MLB notes: Braun homers in first at-bat back from drug ban
MLB notes • Ex-MVP who was suspended 65 games to end 2013 homers in first spring AB.
Published: February 27, 2014 08:03PM
Updated: February 27, 2014 08:18PM
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Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun pours sunflower seeds into his mouth after taking outfield fly ball drills during spring training baseball practice, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer Thursday in his first at-bat for the Milwaukee Brewers since completing a season-ending, 65-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s anti-drug agreement.

In the first inning of Milwaukee’s spring opener in Phoenix against Oakland, Braun hit an 0-1 pitch off Tommy Milone high over the wall near the left field corner, 345 feet away. The 2011 NL MVP got a hearty round of cheers, the loudest coming from fans in the dozen rows or so behind the Brewers bench.

Just before the homer, one fan wearing an A’s hat yelled “MVP-E-D.”

It was Braun’s first game in the Brewers’ lineup since July 21, 2013. The five-time All-Star accepted a 65-game penalty the next day for his involvement with Florida clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs.

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Dodgers • Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke left his start against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday in Glendale, Ariz., after throwing just four pitches 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.”

Grienke was making his first spring start after saying he had “zero interest” making the trip for the Dodgers’ two regular-season games in Sydney, Australia, March 22-23 against Arizona.

But now Geinke says he’d like to start a game Sydney Cricket Ground.

“If we’re going to be there, which obviously we are, then, yes, I’d like to pitch over there,” he said. “I’m looking forward to flying over there.

“No one wants me to say it this way, but in my vote, if we could go over there, my vote was not to,” he said. “But more people wanted to go than not. So, now that we are going, I want to be there. I don’t want to not go and have the rest of the team go and have to play and me sit here watching. I also don’t want to go over there and watch. I want to go over there and play, since that’s what we’re doing.”

His initial comments, he said, were based on concerns that the trip would alter his spring training.

“It’s just the routine thing,” he said. “I want to pitch good. I want to win games. When you’re forced to do something you’re not used to doing, it’s harder to be able to do it at the best of your abilities. It’s still possible, but it makes it harder.

“I’ve never been real big on what people’s perceptions are of me,” Grienke added. “The only goal is to try to win as many games as possible.”

Greinke left the mound after throwing two pitches to the Diamondbacks second hitter, Cliff Pennington. He retired Tony Campana on two pitches. Following the second pitch to Pennington, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and Stan Conte, chief of the club’s medical staff, rushed to the mound. Greinke threw a couple of warmup pitches and then headed for the clubhouse.

“I just was walking around the mound a little bit,” Greinke said. “I didn’t think I was going to need to come out this time, but after talking to them, that’s what they decided. I’d like to see how it feels later.”

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

Dunn said Thursday 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.

Ventura encouraged Dunn to attend Sunday’s ceremony in Hollywood. Dunn says he has a tuxedo and that he has to “step it up a little bit.”