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Ex-Whitecap Braun added to NL All-Star roster

Ryan Braun (Brewster, 2004) / photo courtesy of Major League Baseball

     Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun (Brewster, 2004) is going to the All-Star game.

     MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reported Sunday that Braun was named a National League reserve as a replacement for injured St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday.

     Braun learned that National League manager Bruce Bochy had added him to the squad barely an hour before the first pitch of Sunday’s game at Dodger Stadium, and quickly altered plans for a quiet week at home in neighboring Malibu, where he and wife Larisa were planning to host a family gathering during the break.

     “It’s a good problem to have,” Braun said. "I think logistically, it makes things a little more challenging with a 10-month-old baby, but a good problem to have. It’s a tremendous honor to go to the All-Star game again. It’s something I’m really proud of, something that’s extremely difficult to do, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

     Braun is the 15th former Cape League player in this year’s All-Star game. There are nine CCBL grads on the National League roster, plus six American Leaguers. And three Cape League alumni also have been selected to participate in Monday night’s Home Run Derby – Todd Frazier (Chatham, 2004-06) of the host Cincinnati Reds, Josh Donaldson (Chatham, 2005-06) of the Toronto Blue Jays and Kris Bryant (Chatham, 2011) of the Chicago Cubs.

     “It’s late notice, but any time you’re an All-Star, you earned it,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “I’m thrilled for (Ryan). Six All-Star games is pretty incredible, and I know it means a lot to him.”

     Braun celebrated by smacking a first-inning solo home run Sunday against Dodgers left-hander Brett Anderson. Braun’s 16th homer this season and his 35th extra-base hit came in a 4-3 loss.

     It’s been a return to form for a player who won the NL Most Valuable Player Award in 2011 and was runner-up to San Francisco’s Buster Posey (Y-D, 2006-07) in 2012, but was dogged in 2013 and ’14 by persistent pain in his right thumb.

     Braun and the Brewers found a solution to that problem this past October, when he underwent a cryotherapy procedure to freeze a troublesome nerve. Braun repeated that procedure in early June.

     “It’s been a little challenging, getting back to a consistent place mechanically,” Braun said. “Obviously, I’ve dealt with the thumb a lot over the last year and a half, so just trying to consistently get my swing and bat path back to where I expect them to be. But over the past couple of months I feel I’ve been a lot better, a lot more consistent. There’s certainly a lot of room for growth, a lot of room for improvement, and I expect to be better moving forward.”

     Of Braun’s six All-Star nods, this is his first since he was suspended in 2013 for violations of Major League Baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

     “I recognize how difficult it is to get an opportunity to go to the All-Star game ever,” Braun said, “and the fact I get to go to another one is definitely special. But … I just found out a little while ago, and I haven’t had too much time to reflect on it yet.”