The faces said it all.
Two young boys, buckled in to the backseat of a mid-sized sport utility victory, couldn't pick their jaws up, or narrow their eyes. They sat silently with frozen smiles after speaking and shaking hands with Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun following their donation to the Hunger Task Force Wednesday morning near Helfaer Field outside Miller Park.
Speaking of shaking hands, Braun said it's a simple act he can now do pain-free following a cryotherapy procedure in the offseason to fix a nerve issue in his thumb.
"It feels great. I feel really good," the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player said. "I'm excited, encouraged by how it feels but at the same time I think I have to kind of be cautiously optimistic, get into spring training, start playing every day and kind of see how it responds. But, it hasn't felt this good in a really long time."
He is able to train with zero restrictions, but he's not hitting yet. He did swing a bat immediately after the procedure to see how it went, but then he'll resume his normal routine, which begins in early December.
Braun said his thumb feels amazingly good, but understands that until his hand is put under the day-to-day duress of the game he won't really know how it will hold up -- especially because after an extended offseason last year that began with a suspension in July, he felt good for a few weeks before the injury acted up again.
"It definitely worked," he said of the surgery. "It made a huge difference."
Braun had the procedure after the thumb contributed to his worst full season as a professional. He hit a career low .266 with 19 home runs with 81 runs batted in as the Brewers tumbled from first place in the National League Central all the way out of the playoff picture.
"I said it last year a few times, I really believe if I was anywhere near healthy that the season ends up differently," Braun said. "Hopefully this thing continues to feel good like it does right now and I can ge…Read more...