Braun cites challenges for Team USA

BraunBrewers left fielder Ryan Braun will mostly play for national pride in the World Baseball Classic as a leading member of Team USA.

But there’s an added bonus.

“It’s so much more fun than Spring Training,” he joked.

Braun, never shy about calling for a much shorter spring, will gladly trade a few sleepy days at Maryvale Baseball Park for the drama of the Classic, which returns for a third installment this spring.

Braun and Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy were formally named to Team USA’s provisional roster on Thursday morning. Rosters for the tournament’s other teams were scheduled to be announced at 3 p.m. CT in an MLB Network special.

Both Braun and Lucroy confirmed their participation via Twitter last week.

Neither will have to travel very far to join Team USA. The Americans are part of Pool D with Canada, Mexico and Italy and will play a round robin at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz. and at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix.

Italy and Mexico kick-off Pool D play on March 7. Italy then takes on Canada and Mexico draws the U.S. on March 8.

Meanwhile, back at Maryvale, the rest of the Brewers will be in their second week of relatively sleepy Spring Training games.

“It’s definitely a different challenge,” said Braun, who also played in the ’09 Classic. “I think it’s advantageous to me to know what I’m getting myself into and have a better idea of how I need to prepare myself to play nine innings right away and to play some very meaningful baseball games. It’s a lot different than it would be preparing for a regular Spring Training. I’ve already done it once.”

Does he worry at all about extending the season so dramatically?

“No, I don’t think so,” Braun said. “With the format, you don’t play that many games. You do play more innings than usual for that time of year, and they’re far more intense. But at least last time I played, it was spread out enough that there was some downtime.

“If anything, I think it could be an advantage to help prepare for the season. A lot of times, Spring Training can be boring and monotonous. Playing [in the Classic] can give you a head start on the season.”

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Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy

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