Notes: Yost focused on his team

Notes: Yost focused on his team

MESA, Ariz. -- Brewers manager Ned Yost did not pay attention to what his closest division rivals did over the winter. He'll worry about the Cubs closer to Opening Day.

"I don't care what they did," Yost said Tuesday morning. "They can do whatever they want to do. I have to have my team ready to play them March 31, and they will be no matter what changes [Chicago] made, no matter what upgrades, no matter what additions or subtractions. It doesn't change or affect anything that I do."

The teams met for the first time on Tuesday at the Cubs' spring home, and they will play again on March 10 and 27. Maybe the final meeting will hold more significance to Yost, because the Brewers will travel to Wrigley Field for the first regular-season series from March 31-April 3.

Tuesday marked Milwaukee's first look at Chicago's major offseason addition, outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, who homered in the third inning off Claudio Vargas. The Cubs' only other notable pickup was veteran right-hander Jon Lieber, who pitched Monday.

The Cubs are the only other National League Central team that trains in Arizona. Does that fact affect Yost's approach to games against the Cubs?

"I thought about it, but not really," he said. "We play them so much, I thought, 'Well, maybe I won't play my best players against them.' But that doesn't do anything, because you play them so much during the season. You're not gaining an edge."

The Brewers' best player by most measures is first baseman Prince Fielder, who was off Tuesday in a game Milwaukee won, 10-6, in 10 innings. Outfielder Corey Hart and catcher Jason Kendall also had a scheduled off-day.

The Brewers and Cubs battled throughout the second half of 2007, with Chicago eventually winning the division by a two-game margin. The Cubs won nine of 15 meetings last season, including two of three games in a crucial series at Wrigley Field on Aug. 28-30.

They are scheduled to play 16 times in 2008, including six times in the Brewers' final 12 games of the season.

Because the Cubs are reigning NL Central champs, are they the team to beat? Yost called the question "shark" fodder, using former Brewers outfielder Kevin Mench's term of endearment for members of the media.

"I don't really care who's the team to be beat," Yost said. "We'll find out who's the team to beat in September. I don't play all that stuff, either. I don't waste my time thinking about who's the team to beat.

"The team you're playing today is the team to beat. So they're the team to beat today."

Spring Training
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Little T, big bat: Tony Gwynn, Jr. did something Tuesday he had never done in at least his last 227 Spring Training and regular-season at-bats in the big leagues: He hit a home run.

Gwynn, who tripled in his first at-bat and hit the ball hard all day, connected on a two-run shot off Chicago's Sean Gallagher in the fourth inning. It was Gwynn's first long ball since he hit four at Triple-A Nashville in 2006. He was with the Brewers earlier that spring and hit a pair of Cactus League home runs, but he had been blanked in the big leagues since.

Gwynn is among the candidates to man center field while Mike Cameron serves a 25-game suspension to start the season, and Yost saw the 25-year-old pressing to impress early in camp.

"But that happens early in the spring when you get that opportunity," Yost said. "What I'm looking for from him is some consistency, and quit worrying about getting hits. I want to see good at-bats."

Focused: Fielder had Tuesday off, but that did not change the approach of the guy who likely will hit behind him this season.

Left fielder Ryan Braun went 1-for-3 with an RBI single and was hit by a pitch. He's hitting .273 in Cactus League games and is focused on seeing pitches this spring.

"I'm going to try real hard to be more selective this year, especially if I line up behind Prince," Braun said. "They'll be pretty careful how they pitch me, and it's up to me to be as selective as possible."

Braun has a .400 on-base percentage so far this spring after batting .324 with a .370 on-base mark last year on the way to winning NL Rookie of the Year honors.

He said it: "That should have been yesterday." -- Yost, on the news of Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre's retirement Tuesday morning. On Monday, the Brewers slogged through a three-plus-hour loss that Yost would have preferred to banish to the back pages of the sports section.

Last call: The March 28-29 exhibitions against the Royals will go no longer than 10 innings, a club spokesperson announced Tuesday. Tickets to those games -- $10 in all areas -- are on sale now. ... Former Brewer Chad Fox surrendered a couple of runs and was on the hook for the loss for the Cubs before they rallied to force extra innings. Fox, who was with the Brewers from 1998-2002, has not pitched in the Majors since 2005 and is attempting another comeback from elbow troubles. ... The Milwaukee County Transit System unveiled its "My Ride for the Generation" bus, which has graphics inside and out that celebrate transit history in Milwaukee. The Brewers and We Energies sponsored the bus, which will operate for one year.

Up next: Right-hander Dave Bush and left-hander Manny Parra are scheduled to be first and second out of the gate when the Brewers travel to Surprise, Ariz., on Wednesday to face the Rangers. Lefty Matt Harrison is scheduled to be the starter for Texas.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.