ST. LOUIS -- Felipe Lopez has enjoyed quite a turnaround over the past two weeks.Lopez, who was with Tampa Bay's Triple-A affiliate just weeks ago, is shaping up to be the Brewers' main replacement at second base for the injured All-Star Rickie Weeks. Weeks has been out since spraining his left ankle on July 27. Lopez has seen the most time at second base since the injury, with Jerry Hairston Jr., Josh Wilson and Craig Counsell also filling in. Though Lopez has been starting of late, manager Ron Roenicke says he's been pleased with the overall production at the position in Weeks' absence.
"None of them are going to replace what Rickie does, but they're very good defensively," Roenicke said. "I like their at-bats -- they're getting hits. They're filling in for that spot in an area where we lost a lot."Lopez was buried in a Rays organization that had no plans for him, and now he finds himself in a heated rivalry and in the middle of a pennant race. "You just never know where you're going to end up," Lopez said. "It's crazy. Baseball is crazy like that." The switch-hitter made his ninth start in 10 games on Tuesday in the series opener against the Cardinals, and he knows what it's like to be on the other side of the National League Central rivalry. He played 109 games for St. Louis in 2010, including 12 starts against Milwaukee. The last time he played at Busch Stadium, he was on the home team. "It's a little off, because I was over there last year," he said. "But it's just a part of the game." Lopez was acquired from Tampa Bay on July 28 and has fit in well with Milwaukee, partly because he's familiar with the club from his days as a Brewer during the 2009 season. "It's comfortable," he said. "I'm glad I'm here."
Hand feeling better, Hart returns to lineup
ST. LOUIS -- Corey Hart was back in the Brewers' lineup on Tuesday after convincing manager Ron Roenicke that his bruised left hand was healed enough to play.Roenicke did not have Hart on his initial lineup card, but the outfielder took batting practice without any setbacks and was cleared to return to action after missing Sunday's win at Houston. "It is good news. I didn't know how long he would be [out] with the hand," Roenicke said. "It's nothing he can hurt [further]." Hart was struck in the hand by a pitch during Saturday's game against Houston. X-rays were negative, and he received treatment at the team's Spring Training complex in Arizona on Monday. "It's good enough to get in there," Hart said. "It's not going to be 100 percent today, but I can get out there and go." Hart's return was a welcome sign for the Brewers. He entered Tuesday's series opener against the Cardinals riding an eight-game hit streak. During last week's series against the Cards at Miller Park, he went 6-for-15 with four RBIs and three runs scored in three games. Hart said that it would take more than a deeply bruised hand to keep him sidelined for a critical series against the second-place Cardinals. "I knew coming in that something was really going to be hurting for me not to play," he said. "In these kinds of series, it takes a lot to keep me out of the lineup."
Manager Ron Roenicke said that second baseman Rickie Weeks is walking without pain and strengthening his sprained left ankle with resistance training.Weeks is not with the Brewers on their road trip and is receiving daily treatment on the ankle at Miller Park. The timetable calls for the All-Star to miss two to six weeks. He will pass the two-week mark on Wednesday. "They're very happy with his recovery so far," Roenicke said. "He's a very tough guy who can play with pain, but sometimes, with an ankle injury like he had, it's not a matter of how a tough a guys is. "Those ligaments have to be right before he's able to go out there and do the things he wants, not just running straight, but cutting and stopping." Third baseman Casey McGehee was back in the lineup on Tuesday after missing Sunday's game. McGehee hit three home runs off Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson the last time he faced the right-hander, on Aug. 3 at Miller Park.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.