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Thursday's Frosty Mug: Starting hot

We're talking about Ryan Braun's early power and more in today's roundup of all things Brewers.

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Some things to read while making good choices.

Day 20 of spring training 2014 opens with Ryan Braun as the top story, as he homered for the second time this spring in a 7-2 win over the A's on Wednesday. We've got the recap, if you missed it.

Braun has now been to the plate eight times in his first four spring training games, has reached base safely in seven of those appearances and leads the team with four runs scored. After the game he downplayed the significance of his hot start, though.

To be honest, I glanced over all that stuff about Braun and didn't think much of it until @akschaaf directed my attention back to this note in our Tweet of the Day:

That, certainly, is something to keep an eye on.

It's worth noting that Braun's transition from left to right field has happened pretty quietly and with minimal growing pains to this point. Justin Schultz of Reviewing the Brew says Braun deserves some credit for the way he's handled the move.

Yesterday also featured Yovani Gallardo's second start of the spring, and he allowed a long home run but also recorded four strikeouts in his 49 pitches and 2.2 innings of work. After the start he told reporters he was featuring his curveball.

Other notes from camp:

The Brewers are back in Maryvale today and will host the Rockies at 2:05 Central time. Kyle Lohse is scheduled to start, and he's the subject of the latest edition of "Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers" at The Brewer Nation. @AdamMcCalvy reports that Michael Blazek, Will Smith and Wei-Chung Wang are also scheduled to pitch today.

Smith just pitched an inning on Monday, so it's unlikely the Brewers will stretch him out too far today. Tyler Dunne of the JS talked to Smith about his first spring with the Brewers and possibilities regarding his long term role.

Today the Brewers will also get a second look at MLB's new replay procedures (h/t @jstein1981). Neither team challenged a play in the first game.

Scooter Gennett started at second base yesterday, so there's a good chance we'll see Rickie Weeks today. Jonathan Judge of Disciples of Uecker has a look at the competition for playing time at second base and cautions Brewers fans to maintain reasonable expectations for whoever wins.

Whoever plays second base will certainly get the opportunity to move around the infield a bit as part of the Brewers' defensive shifting. Chris Teeter of Beyond the Box Score studied the shift and noted that the Brewers used an altered defensive alignment 426 times in 2013, but only prevented about five hits by doing so.

Khris Davis also got the day off yesterday, so he'll probably be back in action today. Andrew Gruman of FS Wisconsin says now is the time for Davis to prove he belongs in an every day role. Tyler Drenon of MLB Daily Dish listed Davis as one of four outfielders to watch this season.

Jeff Bianchi and Juan Francisco each had hits yesterday and are among the Brewers leaders with a combined 25 at bats this spring. The organization probably wants to get a good look at them, as MLB Trade Rumors notes they're both out of options and will need to either make the roster or be exposed to waivers.

In the minors: As of this writing Ariel Pena leads by just two votes in the balloting to determine the #15 spot in our BCB Community Prospect Rankings. You have until noon today to cast your vote, and the poll for #16 will open at or around 12:59.

Today in predictions, projections and whatnot: As of this writing 79% of voters in this JS poll think the Brewers will win 80 or more games in 2014.

If you'd like more Brewers coverage today but you're sick of reading, our own Nathan Petrashek released the first edition of his new Cream City Cables podcast on Thursday.

Around baseball:

Rangers: Designated outfielder Alex Castellanos for assignment.
Royals: Pitcher Luke Hochevar will open the season on the DL with a sprained UCL.

Today in former Brewers:

With the first cuts of spring looming, now is as good a time as any to refresh yourself on roster rules and procedures. Bluebird Banter has a pretty useful primer on options and outrights.

Finally, with help from the B-Ref Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy birthday today to:

Plunk Everyone notes that Husting's 25 career hit batsmen are the fourth most ever for a pitcher born on March 6.

Today is also the 34th anniversary of Brewers manager George Bamberger's heart attack in the team's Sun City clubhouse in 1980. We covered that event in Today In Brewer History two years ago.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find my umbrella.

Drink up.