Ryan Braun looking for answers

Even Ryan Braun couldn't remember the last time he participated in early batting practice.

"It's been a long time," said Braun, who could remember only one other time he took early BP since his rookie year in 2007.

Yet, there Braun was Thursday, taking swings with a group of teammates at Miller Park as he looks for answers to break out of a prolonged slump that prompted manager Ron Roenicke to sit him out Wednesday in Colorado.

"I'm big on my routine. I've always said you don't have control over results, focus on process that whole thing," said Braun, who is batting .143 with no homers since Aug. 1. "So, I don't like to break my routine too often. But, every once in a while, if things aren't going too well, it makes sense to come out and take a little extra BP.

"I normally hit off a tee and take soft-toss stuff every day before a game, so thats the equivalent of extra work. So, I don't normally do it. So, we'll see if it will help." 

Braun normally does stretching and workout routines before regular batting practice, a process of which he is a devout follower.

"The only time I'll do baseball stuff is right before the game," he says. "I'll do soft-toss, tee work before the game. I haven't taken extra BP on the field for years. I'm always quality over quantity. I don't like doing too much. You can only do so much of it.

"Plus, you can only really focus on baseball for so long and keep up the intensity and focus that makes it worthwhile. At some point, you can take a million swings but if you're not doing them correctly, you're building bad muscle memory. I've just never been a fan of quantity over quality." 

Braun said when you come up as a rookie, you almost have to participate in early BP as part of your transition to the majors. Since then, he could remember doing it just one other time but couldn't recall the exact situation.

"I took early BP pretty often in '07, not because I wanted to or felt like I was accomplishing anything but because I felt obligated," said Braun. "So much of baseball, the coaches want you to do things because they justify the fact that the players are working as hard as they can."

As for what's going on now," Braun said, "I feel good. BP is not the problem. I'm hitting 1.000 in BP. I'm dominating batting practice every day.

"It's a challenging game. You look at Albert Pujols, the greatest hitter of our generation and arguably the greatest right-handed hitter of all time, and for the first five weeks he hit under .200 with no home runs. You look at Josh Hamilton. He was as good as anybody ever for the first two months of the season and then for two months he hit under .200. It's a really challenging game.

"You try to keep your sanity when you're going bad; you try to figure out what's going on. But I think a lot of times guys get themselves in trouble when they start trying to make too many changes. When you have a track record, you believe in what you do. I've proven to myself that what I do works. When I'm not going good, I don't want to make drastic changes; I don't need to make drastic changes.

"There's always subtle changes. I've always said the biggest challenge for me is plate discipline. It's not something that's ever come easy for me. When I'm going good, I'm swinging at good pitches. When I'm not, I'm getting myself out. Every once in a while you face a pitcher who's locked in and makes good pitches, and there's not a lot you can do about it. But, more often at not, I've felt like when I'm going good and swinging at good pitches, success is inevitable."

Braun did say that he feels healthy now. He has had nagging problems in the past and they often play a role when he's not going good at the plate.

"I feel good physically," he said. "As long as that happens, it's only a matter of time."

Braun said his initial reaction was not to sit out Wednesday but then realized it might be best.

"At some point, you can only continue to do the same thing for so long and not contribute, and not help the team have success before it makes sense to do something like that," he said. "I always want to play. You want to be in there every single day. It's not an issue of being tired or being hurt or being sore or anything like that. A lot of time it makes more sense to play through it but (Roenicke) thought it was a good idea and eventually I agreed."

Though Braun remains a confident player -- always -- Roenicke said it's only natural for any player to suffer some loss of confidence during a long period of struggle.

"This has been a long stretch for him," said Roenicke. "I don't know if he's had a couple of weeks like this I didn't see him early in his career. I know he didn't have any (long droughts) last year. He might have had two or three games, and that was it.

"I think no matter who the person is, when you fail for any period of time, there's a confidence issue there. That's why you stop seeing the ball so well. When you're confident and relaxed, your vision is better. It's proven that your vision is better.

"When you lose a little bit of that, he hasn't walked in a long time, he's been chasing pitches out of the zone. I think that has to do with the whole thing -- vision, confidence, everything."

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