Notes: Selig attends Brewers game

Notes: Selig attends Brewers game

PHOENIX -- Commissioner Bud Selig took in the Brewers-Royals game in Phoenix on Saturday. It was a chance for Selig to watch the team he once owned.

During an interlude in the game, Selig spoke proudly of how baseball is prospering -- both in the United States and in its efforts to grow abroad.

"The average team this year will draw 2.7 million people," he said. "The revenues will be at $6.5 billion this year. The sport has never been this popular."

Selig predicted the attendance total might reach 81 million, a total that'll break the record of 79 million baseball set last season. These are good times for baseball, and for the team he once owned.

So as he talked about baseball in the broad sense, did Selig feel a bit nostalgic about watching the Brewers?

"I don't know if nostalgic is the right word," he said. "But, look, I spent a lot of my life with this organization, creating it -- bringing a team here when everybody said it would never happen."

He pointed out that he really left the Brewers in 1992 when he took over as the game's acting commissioner. But he kept his office in old County Stadium; he's kept his home in Milwaukee as well.

"I'll always have a very soft spot in my heart for Milwaukee and the Brewers," he said.

Playing well in left: Ryan Braun hasn't met Brewers manager Ned Yost's expectations in left field.

No, Braun hasn't done that this spring, Yost insisted Saturday. All Braun has done, Yost said, was exceed his expectations.

"Much, much better than I thought he'd be -- at this point," Yost said.

While he knew Braun was new to the outfield, Yost admitted he did expect a lot from Braun when the Brewers decided to move him from third base. Nobody expected Braun to be as good as Geoff Jenkins, a left fielder with pretty good credentials with the leather.

Braun hasn't caught up with Jenkins in that regard -- not yet, anyway. He's still learning the tricks of the outfield trade, and those tricks aren't learned in one Spring Training.

From mastering the throws, the strategies and the nuances of the outfield, Braun will get better the more time he spends in left, Yost said.

But make no mistake, the 24-year-old Braun, NL Rookie of the Year last season, hasn't been a major drop off from Jenkins as a left fielder, Yost said.

"There's gonna be a bit of a dropoff just due to experience, but not from athleticism and not from anything else," Yost said. "That gap's gonna be closed very, very quickly, because this kid's got great baseball instincts."

All hands on deck: The Brewers will play their first split-squad games on Sunday against the Mariners and Athletics, meaning Yost will need to borrow as many as eight pitchers and 16 position players from the Minors.

Yost is a bit short of players this year because the Brewers started camp with 49 players, fewest of any team in the Majors. With pitcher Mark DiFelice and Lou Palmisano sidelined by injury and Scott Cassidy having retired, the number is down to 46.

That means more opportunity for prospects like Robert Hinton and Steve Hammond, two pitchers. Yost's son, Ned IV, also reported early to Minor League camp, and he got the call several times last season.

"It's OK," Yost said. "It's a good chance for them to come over."

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No worries: Don't give a thought to Matt LaPorta and how he's doing because LaPorta, one of the organization's top prospects, is all right now after he fouled a ball off his left shin on Friday.

He iced his shin after that game and then headed to the trainer's room. On Saturday, the report from Yost was that LaPorta is ready to go.

"He was sore [Saturday]," Yost said. "He'll be in there tomorrow. I'll have him DHing."

Mentor in the house: Yost praised Mike Cameron, a Gold Glove center fielder, for his role in helping Braun develop as a left fielder.

"What's even more helpful is that he's willing and wants to help," Yost said of Cameron. "He's had people help him and he knows the benefit of it. He's very eager to help them -- and willing. And he does it all the time."

Yost said Cameron was returning what older players did for him when he was breaking into the Majors.

He said it: "We need to expand everywhere. I mean, I wanna play some games in Europe. The horizons here are really virtually unlimited." -- Selig on his efforts to make baseball a more global game

Up next: The Brewers split-squad takes on the Mariners at Maryville Baseball Park. Right-hander Claudio Vargas will start, and Vargas will face right-hander Miguel Batista in game scheduled to start at 3:05 p.m. CT. The A's will host a Brewers split-squad at 3:05 p.m. CT. Joe Blanton will start for the A's and Chris Narveson will start for the Brewers.

Justice B. Hill is a senior writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.