Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Juan Francisco made an early statement in the battle for the Opening Day start at first base as he homered in his first two spring training at bats. However, the most impressive element was going deep off left-hander Tommy Milone. Francisco has 32 career home runs, all against right-handed pitchers. In 2013, Francisco was only afforded 32 at-bats against left-handed pitching, and he produced a miserable .154 batting average with two runs batted in.
The Brewers have now seen three days and four games of spring training. All the potential candidates have been given a start at first base — Francisco, Lyle Overbay, Mark Reynolds and Hunter Morris.
So, what can we draw out of this very small sample size?
Francisco has been given a start at both first and third base. He has those two home runs against Oakland and another hit against the Dodgers. He is currently batting .429 (3 for 7) and in starting games at both corners, he has been given an opportunity to show his versatility.
On the other hand, the other three candidates for first base duties have struggled with their opportunities.
Overbay has had five at-bats, including a start at first against the Giants. He is hitting .200 (1 for 5) with just a solitary single and a stolen base. Reynolds has one hit in five at bats with one run batted in. Hunter Morris took over first base duties against the Dodgers, like Halton he is hitless, but did manage to draw a walk.
So, what conclusions can we draw from these opening few days of spring training?
Initially, Francisco will acquire the most game time, with opportunities at both corners of the infield. Secondly, in going deep off Milone, Francisco is trying to demonstrate he can be an everyday first baseman, avoiding a platoon. Finally, with Morris being a minor leaguer, he has the most work to do to force his way onto the Opening Day roster.
It will now be interesting to see how the battle for base develops over the next few weeks.