Jenkins: Position switch should be a breeze for Braun
Geoff Jenkins, who knows all about making a mid-career move from left field to right, believes Ryan Braun will fare quite well in the transition.
Jenkins arrived at Maryvale Baseball Park on Sunday to begin a weeklong stint as a special instructor. It will give him some time to talk about the intricacies of right field with Braun, who has manned left at Miller Park for the last six seasons.
“There’s obviously some different footwork out there, and you use the spin move more when balls carom off the wall down the line, and the throws from right field are a little lengthier,” Jenkins said. “But at the end of the day it’s just about getting to the ball quick, releasing the ball quick and hitting the cutoff man.
“I actually thought right field was easier. Left field is harder.”
Jenkins found, for example, that opposite-field line drives hit by left-handed hitters tended to slice sharply toward the left-field line. In right, similar line drives from right-handed hitters tended to stay more true.
One adjustment Braun will need to make, Jenkins said, involves medium fly balls to right field that get lost in the lights. For some reason, the problem is less an issue in left field.
Braun is poised to pass Jenkins on some of Milwaukee’s all-time leaderboards. Jenkins ranks third in Brewers history with 212 home runs, one ahead of Braun entering the season. Jenkins is also fourth with 704 RBIs as a Brewer (Braun is sixth at 681) and fifth with 661 run scored (Braun is seventh at 644).
Braun is making the switch in part to open playing time for Khris Davis, a promising young hitter who does not have the arm for right field. Like Braun, Jenkins had been the Brewers’ regular left fielder for six seasons before switching to right field for the 2005 season, after the Brewers traded for slugger Carlos Lee.
“I did what was right for the team,” Jenkins said. “With Carlos Lee coming in, it was a big deal for us to get a good hitter in the middle of the lineup. And at the end of the day, it was just, ‘Go catch the ball. Play your position.’
“In a weird way, I thought it was kind of fun to make the switch. Sometimes changing can be scary, but I took it as a positive.”
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