While many big name American baseball players decided against the opportunity to represent their country at the World Baseball Classic, Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun didn't have to think twice.
In fact, it was a no-brainer. If he was healthy, Braun was going to don the red, white and blue.
"First and foremost, it's an honor," Braun said. "It's a tremendous honor to have an opportunity to represent your country. You don't know how many opportunities you are going to have to do that. This tournament only happens once every four years and four years from now who knows — for all of us — what our health situation would be, where we'll be in the game and even have an opportunity to be invited."
Like all players participating in the World Baseball Classic, Braun's offseason routine was altered due to the tournament starting in early March. Unlike the relaxed feel of spring training games, the WBC puts players in intense competition a month earlier than usual.
In a normal year, Braun wouldn't start his hitting until sometime in January, but this season he was long tossing in November and hitting full-go in December.
While he wasn't sure the earlier start to baseball activity would give him an advantage on Opening Day, Braun went into the offseason with the mindset of preparing himself to play meaningful innings for Team USA in March.
"I like our chances," Braun said of Team USA. "On paper we certainly have a great team. It's challenging for us in that it is a little earlier than when guys are normally in their best shape. We are obviously not in midseason form at the beginning of the season, but I know everybody is ready to play. I'm really excited about it and looking forward to it."
Unlike last offseason, Braun could focus on adjustments to his baseball routine, rather than off the field issues. This winter, Braun was able to finally relax and have some downtime, something valuable for his mindset.
Braun prepared to hit WBC in full stride
Fox Sports Wisconsin | Jan 28