Notes: Fielder's drives draw raves
Teammates awed by first baseman's long home runs
LOS ANGELES -- When Prince Fielder blasts home runs like the pair he hit Monday night, even his teammates are impressed.
"You look down for a second, and when you look up the ball is 500 feet down the line," second baseman Rickie Weeks said. "You just try to get on base for him."
Five hundred feet was an exaggeration, but not by much. Fielder hit a second-inning homer Monday that measured 462 feet, and a ninth-inning blast that went higher but measured "only" 438 feet from home plate. That's 900 feet -- three football fields -- of home run distance.
It was Fielder's sixth career multi-homer game and his third this season. With Nos. 13 and 14 of the year, he tied teammate J.J. Hardy for the National League lead.
"I'll say it's been fun while it lasted, because I feel like he's going to take off now," Hardy said.
"It's like you can tell when Prince is going to hit one," Hardy added. "You'll see him get mad during an at-bat and you go, 'Oh boy, don't throw him a strike.' And he bombs it. He's just good."
While impressive, Fielder's 462-footer did not crack the top five long balls in Dodger Stadium history. Willie Stargell holds the fifth spot with a 470-footer, and Stargell also holds the top spot with a 506-foot, six-inch blast off Alan Foster on Aug. 5, 1969.
As usual, Fielder was nonchalant about his own big blast.
"They all feel good," he said.
Oh, so close: Hardy missed No. 15 by inches in the first inning Monday, when his long fly ball hooked just foul. He grounded into a double play to end that at-bat and finished 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.
"I don't know if they pitched me differently because of that fly ball or what," Hardy said. "That was a 2-and-0 fastball away in a fastball count, and I didn't see another fastball in a fastball count the rest of the night. It was all 3-and-1 sliders.
"I was real jumpy last night. I wasn't seeing the ball like I had been seeing it, so I got all antsy. I'm trying to stick to the same approach where I don't do too much. I think last night I was trying to do too much."
Healthy Crew: Knock on wood, but the Brewers have used fewer players this season (26) than any of the other 29 Major League teams, and are among just three that have used only five starting pitchers.
The only addition to the Opening Day roster has been right-handed reliever Chris Spurling, who was called up from Triple-A Nashville on April 21. He replaced reliever Greg Aquino, who originally was optioned to Nashville after a string of poor games, but later was placed on the disabled list with a sore forearm.
In charge of the Brewers' health is head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger, assistant athletic trainer Dan Wright and strength and conditioning specialist Chris Joyner. Caplinger and Wright were honored by Baseball Prospectus as baseball's top medical staff in 2005, and Joyner joined the organization from Toronto this season.
"They do as much work with us in terms of maintenance and prevention as with treating injuries," infielder Craig Counsell said. "There is a lot of focus now on preventing injuries. Luck can play into it, too. So can the age of the team."
Line them up: Credit bench coach Dale Sveum with an unofficial save from Monday night. He was the guy responsible for placing second baseman Weeks directly behind the pitcher's mound in the seventh inning, precisely where Nomar Garciaparra hit his inning-ending groundout.
Had Garciaparra's grounder reached center field, the Brewers' one-time 8-0 lead would have been whittled to 8-6. Instead, it remained 8-4 and the Brewers went on to a 9-5 win.
Sveum, a former Brewers infielder, positions players based primarily on spray charts churned out by the team's B.A.T.S. computer system, which sorts every pitch and every outcome of every Major League game. An small army of baseball operations employees enters the data. But positioning also depends as much on the game situation and the pitcher on the mound as the batter at the plate.
"Sometimes maybe you want to keep it simple," Sveum said. "Sometimes you don't have data on a guy and you have to go naked. Sometimes you do it and it just doesn't work. But the charts don't lie, either."
Sveum was playing in the Majors as recently as 1999, but never had the kind of data available today.
"We rarely shifted," he said. "The only guy I ever shifted on was Darrell Evans. You didn't have the computer information that we have now."
On deck: Lefty Chris Capuano is scheduled to start for Milwaukee in Wednesday's series finale against the Dodgers and righty Brad Penny at 9:10 p.m. CT. Capuano has a 2.93 ERA in eight games, seven starts, against the Dodgers.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.