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Baseball: ThunderBolts’ Andrew Brauer finding comfort zone

The Windy City Thunderbolts' Andrew Brauer (4). | JCunningham~For Sun-Times Media

The Windy City Thunderbolts' Andrew Brauer (4). | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 8, 2014 9:53PM



Forget the sophomore slump. Andrew Brauer seems poised for a breakout season in his second year with the Windy City ThunderBolts.

The outfielder from Mokena has had a strong spring, which continued Thursday as he reached base three times — via two walks and a hit by pitch — against the Schaumburg Boomers at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood.

The T-Bolts fell to 2-1 in exhibition play with a 9-2 loss to the defending Frontier League champions.

“I feel a lot more comfortable and I’ve learned to be a lot more patient,” Brauer said. “This is my second year with this coaching staff, and they’ve proven that they know what they’re doing, not that I doubted them before. I’ve been talking with (hitting coach Pete Pirman) after every at-bat, whether it went well or didn’t go well. I feel more comfortable, knowing the staff, knowing teammates and just knowing what to expect. It makes it easier to work out the kinks.”

Brauer, a Lewis product who prepped at Montini, also went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI in Tuesday’s win over Joliet and had a double in Monday’s victory over the Slammers.

“He’s been working on his swing with Pete, and so far, so good,” T-Bolts manager Ron Biga said. “He’s a good athlete. He plays aggressive and he’s going to need to be that kind of guy for us.”

Brauer, who stole 15 bases last season, stole four Thursday.

“Last year, I was new to the league so I didn’t necessarily have a green light and was still trying to figure some things out,” he said. “I worked a lot on (baserunning) over the offseason and this is what spring training is for, to feel it out, see what you can do and maybe it’s a tool that I can use and we can use throughout the season.”

Brauer hit .271 with three home runs and 37 RBI in 93 games in 2013 and also showed off one of the league’s top arms, recording 14 outfield assists. Nonetheless, he went into the offseason feeling like he had plenty to work on defensively.

“I’ve always been confident in my arm and I hope and expect maybe it’ll come into play a couple of times this year to help the team,” he said. “I know that I needed to get better on my first-step reads and everything in the outfield. This is my second year in the league playing outfield, but it was just two years before that I started playing outfield, so I’m still learning every day.”

While Brauer continues to improve as a player, he’s happy to be doing it in Crestwood.

“I love it,” he said. “I get the best of both worlds. I stay at home and have my family life. It gives me that comfort element to come out and play baseball every day and then go home and be with my family. Having family and friends come out to your games is great. They’re different from other fans. They’ll always support you whether you play well or not.”



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