PHOENIX — Aramis Ramirez hit a three-run double in the first inning on the first pitch he saw this spring, and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Kansas City Royals 7-6 on Saturday.
The third baseman made his first start since having surgery in early January to remove a polyp from his colon. Ramirez went 2 for 2 with a walk and scored a run in his spring debut.
“I wanted to get that first hit out of the way, right away,” Ramirez said. “I was hoping for a strike, and he did throw me a strike, and I put a pretty good swing on it.
“It’s been a while since the last time I played in a baseball game, so it was a little weird in the beginning. “But I got the first one out of the way now. I was hoping to get some ground balls and see how I move out there, but we’ve got plenty of time.”
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said the club will be careful with Ramirez, who played just 92 games in 2013 due to knee problems and hit .283 with 12 home runs and knocked in 49 RBIs.
“We’ll see. We’ll go slow with him, make sure we’re not jumping it too fast,” Roenicke said. “We want him to get 100 percent by opening day, and so that’s where we are at.”
Marco Estrada, making his third start of the spring for the Brewers, gave up three runs and seven hits in 3 1-3 innings.
Royals right fielder Norichika Aoki, facing the team that traded him during the offseason, had a two-run single in the third inning. Second baseman Christian Colon was 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Royals: John Lamb lasted only two-thirds of an inning after he gave up four runs on four hits while walking two batters.
“I feel like I left pitches, the majority of pitches that weren’t quality pitches were up. That’s the name of the game right there,” said Lamb, who threw 41 pitches. “You fall behind and you don’t get back into a count to stay ahead or be ahead it’s hard and tough to beat people and I just got beat today.”
Brewers: After cruising through the first two innings, Estrada struggled in the third by giving up three runs and was removed after he got one out in the fourth.
“Estrada, the one inning was so-so, but I think he threw the ball well and I liked that he mixed pitches, so it was a good outing for him,” Roenicke said.
The Cactus League has seen its fair share of replays so far this spring, but at Maryvale Baseball Park, fans were treated to three in one game.
Roenicke challenged that catcher Martin Maldonado was hit by an 0-2 pitch from John Lamb in the first inning that was called a ball by umpire Allen Bailey.
Within a minute it was determined that the replay was inconclusive.
BRAUN’S PROGRESSION IN RIGHT FIELD
Following the fallout from Ryan Braun’s 65-game suspension to end his 2013 season due to the Biogenesis scandal, his transition to right field this season has gone smoothly, according to Roenicke.
“Being a good defender out in left certainly lets you believe he’s going to be a good defender in right because he has the skill sets for right with his arm,” Roenicke said. “He throws well, he’s accurate, and then he has the speed to cover the ground that you need. The typical left fielder may not have that same skill set.”
Braun did not play Saturday.