Weathers still adjusting to Brewers 'pen
Veteran getting used to Macha's late-game strategy
ST. LOUIS -- More than three weeks into his Brewers tenure, David Weathers is still trying to get used to handing the baseball to his manager.In his first 13 games with Milwaukee, Weathers has been lifted in the middle of an inning seven times. For comparison, he was only pulled three times in his 43 appearances for the Reds before an Aug. 9 trade to Milwaukee. Last year with the Reds, Weathers exited in the middle of an inning six times in 72 games. "I just have to adjust," Weathers said. It's proving difficult. "The strange thing," Weathers said, "is that I pitched in one of the best bullpens in the National League the last couple of years and almost always finished the inning. It's a huge adjustment for me." Might he approach manager Ken Macha to talk about it? "If it continues," Weathers said. "I've never pitched well doing that. I don't think any bullpen can pitch well when you're only going one-third or two-thirds. You've constantly got someone warming up, and your bullpen will pay the price for that. "You don't want guys going out there, allowing a baserunner and then looking down for somebody to come in and help them out. You have to get out of your own jams." But, Weathers added, "The bottom line is, he's the manager. It's just an adjustment I'll have to make." Weathers has most often made way for Todd Coffey, who has been excellent this season as the primary setup man to closer Trevor Hoffman. That was the case at Busch Stadium on Tuesday, when Weathers started the seventh inning of a game tied at 4 and surrendered a one-out double to Brendan Ryan. The runner froze when Weathers induced a popout, bringing up Albert Pujols, who was 10-for-19 in his career against Weathers. So Macha made what he considered an easy call: Intentionally walk Pujols and bring in Coffey to face Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday. Macha's logic for the move was sound. Coffey was coming off a pair of off-days and should have been well-rested. He is a ground-ball pitcher, a plus with runners at first and second base. And Macha figured that Holliday, an excellent breaking-ball hitter, would have a tougher time with Coffey's power fastball. Coffey indeed went with a first-pitch fastball, only he grooved it down the middle of the plate and Holliday pounded it for a go-ahead, three-run home run that proved the difference in a 7-6 Brewers loss.
"It's just in certain situations where [Macha] makes the move," Brewers bullpen coach Stan Kyles said. "Skip believes more in matchups and things like that, and guys have to understand that it's nothing personal. I'm pretty sure it frustrates [Weathers] more than it affects his pitching."Weathers took the loss Tuesday and was saddled with two earned runs, boosting his ERA since the trade to 4.38 (six earned runs in 12 1/3 innings). Schumaker's double snapped an 0-for-25 skid by opponents against Weathers. On Thursday, Weathers was called upon again with one out and a runner on base. He surrendered a ground-rule double and a walk to load the bases and this time was replaced by Mitch Stetter. The Brewers escaped with their 4-2 lead intact when Stetter struck out Cardinals pinch-hitter Khalil Greene and Claudio Vargas induced an inning-ending groundout from Pujols. They went on to win, 4-3.
The Brewers own a relatively reasonable $3.7 million club option for Weathers to return in 2010. If they decline, Weathers will get a $400,000 buyout. Weathers, who turns 40 on Sept. 25, has gotten no indication from club officials which way they are leaning.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.