Hall unhappy with platoon at third
Versatile infielder doesn't want to become utility man
MILWAUKEE -- Bill Hall barely said a word over the past four seasons as the Brewers pinballed him around the diamond, from third base to shortstop to center field and then back to third base. When it became clear over the weekend that Hall was losing his everyday spot in the lineup, he finally spoke up."I'm not really happy about it," Hall said. "I don't think anybody would be happy about it. Nobody's happy about losing a job." Russell Branyan, a left-handed hitter, started at third for the third straight game when the Brewers faced right-hander Tim Hudson and the Braves on Tuesday night at Miller Park. Hall, a right-handed hitter who entered the day batting .158 this season against right-handed pitchers, will start against left-handed opponents and occasionally against righties when manager Ned Yost deems the matchup favorable. But Hall showed that you can win a game off the bench, too. He led off the bottom of the ninth with a single off right-handed reliever Jeff Bennett and later scored the game-winning run as the Brewers took the series opener with the Braves, 3-2.
Branyan signed a Minor League deal with Milwaukee during Spring Training and hit righties at a .391 clip with 10 home runs in 110 at-bats at Triple-A Nashville. The Brewers promoted Branyan to the big league roster on Saturday night and inserted him immediately into the lineup.With lefty Jo-Jo Reyes set to start Wednesday for Atlanta, Hall should start Game 2 of the series. He was asked if he thought the decision to install a loose platoon was "fair." "Fair? I don't know what's fair any more," Hall said. "I've changed places pretty much four or five years in a row and I've done everything I could. I'm not happy with the way I'm hitting and I'm not making excuses. I'm not saying I should be in there every day, but I do have nine homers, 20-something RBIs . I'm still capable of doing some damage. It is what it is. I'm here, I'm ready to play whenever my number is called." He added: "I'm not at a point in my career to turn back into a utility player." Yost insisted he was not surprised by Hall's frustration. "If Billy Hall was happy about it, I wouldn't want him on this team," Yost said. "He has every right to be unhappy. He can be unhappy because that's what drives players. We have to get back to looking at numbers again, and Billy's numbers against right-handed pitching aren't very good." Hall understands the numbers. He was told at the start of the team's just-completed road trip that he needed to boost his numbers against right-handers, and Hall has spent time looking at video of at-bats to identify mechanical fixes. Hall was armed Tuesday with some numbers of his own, including the fact he had six home runs against right-handed pitching, most of any Brewer besides left fielder Ryan Braun, and 16 RBIs, good for third on the team. Hall went 10-for-28 through the first seven games of the 10-game trip before the Brewers promoted Branyan. "In the offseason, they said they were going to move me to third base, leave me alone, let me play," Hall said. "I was under the impression it wasn't going to be like this any more. "I was told that I wasn't the reason this team wasn't playing up to its capabilities, but we needed a left-handed bat in the lineup with power and Russell plays [my] position. This kind of falls on me. ... I'm not happy with the way I'm hitting off righties, but I'm not the only one that's struggling against right-handed pitching and pitching in general. He's a left-handed bat in Triple-A, he was hot so they called him up to play third base." Now Hall is in a somewhat difficult position. He will see some right-handed relievers late in games, and needs to use those opportunities to hit his way back into everyday duty. "[On Wednesday] I'm starting against a left-hander, so if a right-hander comes in the game, I'd better get a hit," he said. "I've had that pressure on me the last two weeks now. It's tough to go up there and hit when you feel like if you don't get a hit, you're probably not going to play against the next righty. "And it's two months into the season. It seems quick to make such a quick decision. I've still got over 400 at-bats to go to right things. But it is what it is, and we'll see what happens." Reporters did not get a chance to ask Hall to expound on that final thought. A club official broke up the interview because the Brewers had begun their pre-game stretching. "He has the capability of hitting all pitching," Yost said. "He just hasn't to this point. He's killed left-handed pitching and struggled against right-handed pitching. Does that mean that Billy can't hit right-handed pitching? No way. I feel that Billy will fight his way through this and get right back to where he needs to be and where we need him to be."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.