Cain and the Brewers try to push NL Central's expectations

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PHOENIX (AP) – Thanks to the aggressive acquisitions of the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds, Newfoundland has become much harder on paper this season.

Lorenzo Cain and the Milwaukee brewers think they are up to the task of repeating as champions.

"The competition is through the roof. It will be a complete division, "said Cain. "We won the division last year, but many people are waiting for us to take it. We have to go out and compete, but we will be ready to go. "

Cain was a big part of the Brewers' end-of-season race with 96 wins and the NL championship series, which they lost to the Dodgers in seven games.

Cain and Christian Yelich came on board during the off season a year ago, Cain as a free agent and Yelich in an exchange with Miami. Yelich was the NHL's most valuable player with 36 homeruns and a 1,000 OPS, but Cain also contributed with excellent defense in the central peloton as well as career highs of 30 stolen goals and a base percentage of. 395.

"(David) Stearns did a good job adding things to this team," Cain said of the Milwaukee general manager. "On the one hand, give them a run like last year, this last month of the season has been amazing. We expect more of the same thing. We must bring the same state of mind. "

This season, the rivals from the Milwaukee Division are sourcing. The Cardinals added Paul Goldschmidt, and the Reds took over Yasiel Puig, Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark. Add the Chicago Cubs – who lost the Brewers 163 game for the division title last year – and a competitive Pittsburgh Pirates club. The central division of the NL is becoming the deepest division of baseball.

The Brewers could not compete with Yelich and Cain a year ago, but they signed receiver Yasmani Grandal. They also brought Mike Moustakas, who will play the second goal for the first time in his career with Travis Shaw to return to third place.

Cain remains at the center, where he remains one of the best in the game. He will turn 33 next month, but Cain still feels like he still has a lot to do.

"I always feel good," he said, adding that he "continues to have legs under me."

Cain returned to his organization last year after seven years in Kansas City. The year 2015 was his climax: he scored 16 shots at the career summit, stole 28 bases, formed the All-Star team and helped the Royals win the World Series.

His only personal goal now? "Be healthy all season. I did not really set goals like hitting .300, things like that.

"We want to go back to the playoffs and start from there."

NOTES: Yelich hit his third circuit of spring training. He also doubled to raise his average in the Cactus League to .52 (12 for 24). … Jhoulys Chacin said the starting task of the opening day was "great". The 31-year-old should get the green light for the Brewers game on March 28 against St. Louis, and coach Craig Counsell made it official Thursday. "It's exciting and an honor for me," said Chacin, who began his third appearance after starting for Colorado in 2013 and San Diego in 2017.