Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 8/16/12
By ANDREW GRUMAN FOXSportsWisconsin.com MILWAUKEE At 3:30 in the afternoon when the Milwaukee Brewers have an evening game, Ryan Braun usually starts his pregame routine of stretching and working out before taking the a roundof batting practice later in the evening.But at that same time Thursday, Braun broke his routine and took early batting practice for only the second time since his rookie season. The Brewers left fielder is trying anything to break out of a 6 for 42 slump, even if it means going against his philosophy of quality swings over quantity. "You can only do so much of it," Braun said. "You can only focus on baseball so long and keep up the intensity and focus that makes it worthwhile. You can take a million swings, but if you aren't doing them correctly, you build bad muscle memory."There are few more confident in baseball than Braun. He's still hitting .299 on the season and he still leads the National League in home runs with 29. He knows not to press too hard."You try to keep your sanity when it's going bad and figure out what is going on," Braun said. "I think guys get themselves in trouble when they try to make too many changes. I think when you have a track record and you believe in what you can do, I've proven to myself it works, I don't want to make drastic changes because I don't need to make drastic changes."But in baseball, even the most confident get shaken. It's natural.Brewers manager Ron Roenicke can see it with Braun."No matter who the person is, when you struggle for any period of time, I think there is a confidence issue there," Roenicke said. "That's why you stop seeing the ball well. When you are confident and relaxed, your vision is better, it is proven. When you lose a little bit of that, he hasn't walked in a long time, he's chasing pitches out of the zone, I think that has to do with the whole thing."Braun knows that he's gotten himself out a lot lately by chasing bad pitches. It has nothing to do with injuries; he feels fine physically. "I always feel the biggest challenge for me offensively is plate discipline," Braun said. "It is not something that has ever come easy to me. I feel that if I'm going good I'm swinging at good pitches and when I'm not, I'm getting myself out. Every once in a while you face a pitcher that is locked in and there's not a lot you can do about it, but more often than not, when I'm swinging at good pitches, success is going to come."To Braun, more isn't always better. Just because he took extra swings today doesn't mean that he's found the answer. "BP is not the problem; I am hitting 1.000 in BP," Braun said. "It is a challenging game. Albert Pujols is the greatest hitter of our generation and arguably the greatest right-handed hitter of all-time, and the first five weeks he hit under .200 with one home run. Look at Josh Hamilton, who was as good as anybody ever the first two months and then for two months hit under .200. It is a really challenging game."Baseball can be humbling to even the greatest to play the sport. It tests a player both physically and mentally and it is currently testing the reigning National League MVP. "What's crazy about this game is that you have no control over results," Braun said. "You can take the greatest early BP ever, get an amazing workout and take another amazing batting practice, study for the pitcher and know exactly what he's going to do to me, take great swings and have nothing to show for it. It is a game where you can't force results. There is nothing you can do to guarantee success, and you continue to go about the process."Marcum's return still hazy: Shaun Marcum was back with the Brewers on Thursday following his second rehab start with Single-A Wisconsin.The Brewers aren't ready to bring back the right-hander just yet, however.On the disabled list since June 15 with right elbow tightness, Marcum didn't feel as well as he had hoped following an outing that saw him allow two earned runs in 3 23 innings Wednesday. "He felt good, (but) he said the last inning he didn't throw as well," Roenicke said. "He said his cutters were sliding across too big and was missing location."Marcum will throw a bullpen season Friday, and his next step will then be determined. That could mean his return to the Brewers or another start with Wisconsin."That's where the bullpen comes in, not where his arm feels, but am I really ready to do this at the big league level," Roenicke said. "We are tinkering with both things. Whether to bring him back early and limit him to probably 75 (pitches) maximum or to give him another start." If and when Marcum is able to return, Roenicke hinted that the club may choose to not remove any of its current starters but to instead finish the season with a six-man rotation.
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