Slumping Braun, Fielder swap spots

Slumping Braun, Fielder swap spots

NEW YORK -- Being manager of a Major League Baseball team means you reserve the right to change your mind.

That's what Brewers skipper Ned Yost did Sunday, when he agreed to a request from his two best hitters and flipped their spots in the batting order. Left fielder Ryan Braun moved up to the No. 3 hole for the series finale against the Mets, and first baseman Prince Fielder dropped back to No. 4 in the order.

Both have yet to find a groove. Braun entered Sunday hitting .229, and Fielder had yet to hit a home run.

"It's just time," Yost said. "It doesn't really matter where you hit, you just go up there and hit. But sometimes there's a comfort level in a spot."

Braun and Fielder returned to the spots where they hit most of last season, when Braun won the National League Rookie of the Year Award and Fielder finished third in the NL MVP race. Yost decided over the winter to flip them in the order, and the manager said before Saturday's game that he was not inclined to make a lineup change this early in the season. He said such a move would be "a placebo."

That changed either Saturday evening, when Braun talked it over with Fielder and then went to hitting coach Jim Skaalen to request the change, or Sunday morning, after Yost had looked at the numbers and had a discussion with both players.

Braun said he was excited about the move and called it, "Mentally, a fresh start for both of us."

"I don't think it had anything to do with us being uncomfortable where we were at," Braun said. "I think it was more of us being more comfortable with me being three and him being four. We understood the logic behind [the other configuration], but it gets to the point where neither one of us is having too much success, and it feels like it is in our best interests and the best interests of the team to at least try it.

"We're certainly not swinging the bats the way we were last year. So why not? We're both definitely excited about the change."

Added Fielder: "Whatever works. This game is all mental, anyway. It's never physical."

Yost downplayed the significance of his decision.

"It's not a major deal in the context of what we're trying to do," he told reporters. "'Failed experiments,' all the stuff you're trying to push, I don't buy it. It's just a switch. They're staying in the premier hitting spots."

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