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MLB notebook: Brewers’ Braun returns from ban, homers in first at-bat

Beacon Journal wire services

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If Ryan Braun took any special sense of satisfaction in homering on the second pitch he saw in the Milwaukee Brewers’ Cactus League opener Thursday, he certainly didn’t let on.

“It’s still the first day of spring training [games],” Braun said after an 11-3 victory over the Oakland A’s. “I’d rather hit the ball hard than strike out. The goal is just to have a gradual progression and prepare myself for the season.”

In his first game appearance since his 65-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s anti-drug agreement, Braun was welcomed by a mixture of cheers and boos by a smallish crowd of 3,649 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium as he strode to the plate for his first at-bat. The game was fairly well-attended by Brewers fans.

“I was encouraged by the amount of support I got,” Braun said when asked about the reaction. “I obviously appreciate that. Again, my only focus is on preparing for the season. I try not to think about or concern myself with things that are out of my control.”

One particularly vocal spectator chanted “M-V-P-E-D!” but didn’t get much reaction from those around him.

Sizemore back

Outfielder Grady Sizemore returned to the field for the first time since 2011 as the World Series champion Boston Red Sox started off their spring schedule in Fort Myers, Fla., beating Northeastern 5-2 and then defeating Boston College 5-2. Both games were seven innings.

Sizemore, 31, who joined the Red Sox in January as a free agent, was once one of baseball’s most dynamic players, an All-Star with the Indians from 2006-08 with two Gold Gloves, before being sidelined by injuries. Since 2009, he has undergone seven surgeries, including procedures on his left elbow, both knees and a herniated disk in his lower back in 2012.

Sizemore went 0-for-2, playing three innings in left field in the first game of the doubleheader against Boston-based college teams.

Dodgers’ Greinke exits

Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke left his start against the Arizona Diamondbacks after throwing just four pitches in Glendale, Ariz., because of a mild right calf strain.

“I think it’s minor, but we’ll see,” Greinke said. “I don’t know exactly what it was, but it felt kind of like a cramp.”

Applause for Jeter

Derek Jeter got a partial standing ovation before going hitless in two at-bats in the first spring training game of his final season, a New York Yankees 8-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in Tampa, Fla.

The Yankees captain, who turns 40 in June, hit a double-play grounder to second off Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton in the first and grounded out to third during the fourth against left-hander Jeff Locke.

Heading to the Oscars

Chicago White Sox slugger Adam Dunn says he will attend this year’s Academy Awards.

Dunn said that he met with manager Robin Ventura and General Manager Rick Hahn. The schedule has been worked out and Dunn says he’ll be attending the Oscars with the contingent from the Matthew McConaughey film Dallas Buyers Club.

Dunn has a small role as a bartender in the film, which is nominated for best picture. The player invested in the film as a friend of the producer, former minor-league baseball player Joe Newcomb.


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