"The goal is always to move forward:" Brewers Ryan Braun hopes to return to All-Star form this season

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Milwaukee Brewers hope for a thumbs up -- or perhaps a right thumb up from outfielder Ryan Braun. Never has one digit meant so much to the fortunes of a Major League baseball team.

Like his Brewers teammates, Ryan Braun had a forgettable 2014. Then again, it's tough to forget their epic collapse from first place for 150 days to watching the post-season. Had Braun been healthy instead of swinging with one hand because of his chronic thumb injury, it might have been a different story.

"The goal is always to move forward -- to talk about something I've dealt with for awhile doesn't do me any good -- doesn't do us any good as a team. But I, at the same time, I respect that you have a job to do, other people have a job to do, and until I can prove that I'm healthy it will continue to be a topic of conversation," Braun said.

Following an off-season procedure on his thumb, Braun hopes to regain his All-Star form. When asked earlier in the month how he was feeling, Braun said:

"Pretty good, pretty good. Like I said, I won't really have a gauge on it until we get closer to the end of Spring Training -- but so far, so good," Braun said.

Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke has brought Braun along slowly. After scuffling at the plate, he came on strong -- banging out two home runs in two games. Braun's issues off the field for PED use are well-chronicled, but he's dealt with his transgressions and as a married man with a young daughter, he's had help along the way.

"It's always nice to go home and know that I have the support of them -- my friends and my family," Braun said.

Through the trials and tribulations, Braun has learned perspective, and there's nothing like the unconditional love of family to make everything right.

"It's incredible. It's obviously life-alerting in every way, as everybody would say who has experienced it. It just changes your perspective in so many ways. It makes you appreciate the minimal amount of sleep that you do get, and it's so much fun. Every day is just new and unique adventure," Braun said.

As he enters his sixth full season, the 31-year-old Braun seems to be in a good place off the field.

"I just enjoy life. I could never imagine myself enjoying life more -- being content or happy or appreciative of the life that I'm able to live. Some days are good and bad at work, but you just move on, always enjoy life and appreciate how fortunate and blessed I am to get to play this game and live the life that I live," Braun said.

The Brewers have 100 million reasons to hope that Braun returns to his All-Star form on the field.

"The challenge in this game is consistency and longevity. You see a lot of guys that are really good for a year, two years, five years, but the true test is doing it over a 10 or 15-year period. Hopefully I have another good six, eight, 10 really good years left in me and it starts this year," Braun said.

Braun and his teammates open the season next Monday afternoon, April 6th against the Colorado Rockies at Miller Park.