CHICAGO -- Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun talked his way back into the starting lineup for Thursday's series finale against the Cubs, a day after he tweaked his groin in an 8-2 win. An early version of manager Ned Yost's lineup had shortstop J.J. Hardy hitting in the cleanup hole and Gabe Gross playing left field. After Braun arrived at Wrigley Field on Thursday morning, he worked on changing that. "It was just tight, and [Yost] didn't think I would be ready to go," Braun said. "But I told him I was all right. 'Put me back in there.' I was ready to play."
Braun went 0-for-4 in the Brewers' first loss of the season. In the first and second games of the series, both Brewers wins, he was 4-for-10. Braun said he "irritated" his groin muscle while legging out a double in the fourth inning Wednesday, when he couldn't see whether diving Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez had come up with the baseball. When Braun saw it squirt away, he had to take a somewhat awkward route to get to second base and felt something pull. He played on and collected two more hits, including an RBI single, then was removed from the game as part of an eighth-inning double-switch. Braun was replaced defensively in all three games. But Yost argued throughout the week that the decision to remove Braun in the late innings had everything to do with setting up relief pitchers to work multiple innings without having to bat and nothing to do with Braun's defense. In all three games, Braun, who worked this spring on the move from third base to left field, made the next-to-last or last out immediately before the double-switch. "I'm trying to keep a balanced bullpen," said Yost, who hopes to use all of his setup men for multiple innings this season to keep others fresh. Braun said Thursday morning that he has received an explanation of the decisions and was fine with them. Last year, when Braun played third base and led the National League with 26 errors, he was often replaced in the late innings for defensive purposes. He understood those moves at the time but was not exactly happy with them. This was totally different. "It's not a defensive issue," Braun said. "It makes sense, because I made the last out. It's all good."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.