CINCINNATI -- At this point in the season, every game is magnified, as is every quote. While the timing of the comments couldn't have been worse, the Brewers on Friday downplayed recent statements by Prince Fielder and Francisco Rodriguez and said the ensuing public outcry has not been a distraction.
Fielder, who is a free agent following this season, said in an interview scheduled to air Sunday as part of TBS' Major League Baseball coverage that this is "probably [his] last year" in Milwaukee.
"That was a question that was going to be asked," said Brewers pitcher Chris Narveson. "The media wants the answers because the fan base wants the answers. It happens on any team. The same thing happened with the Phillies last year with Jayson Werth. It's a product of the game. As a player, you try not to think about it."
Manager Ron Roenicke said Fielder did nothing wrong and that it was the product of the Brewers participating in a pennant race with more intensive media coverage.
"The Prince thing, for me, there's nothing there," Roenicke said. "He didn't mean anything by what he said. It got blown up. He was just answering a question you guys are going to ask. He's been here a long time. He loves the city. I hope people never think he wants to leave. He likes where he is."
Rodriguez told CBSSports.com on Tuesday that he was not satisfied with his role in the Brewers' bullpen, which has netted him fewer save opportunities with John Axford as the closer. Roenicke said Rodriguez's comments came as no surprise to him.
"Frankie was just being honest about what he and I have talked about," Roenicke said. "I know where his heart is. He wants to be a closer. He's said from the get-go what he wants to do. I'm not going to disagree with him -- he's a closer. Great for us, we have two closers."
In the end, the Brewers say none of this will distract them from their goal of winning the National League Central title.
"It's not an issue for us," said Craig Counsell. "It has nothing to do with me going out and getting a hit tonight. It's not really on our radar. It's something people enjoy talking about. But as players ... especially this time of year, guys go to bed worried about winning the next game."
Brewers remain relaxed despite struggles
CINCINNATI -- The Milwaukee clubhouse was relaxed and at times jovial prior to Friday night's series opener against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Despite losing six of the past eight games and seeing their lead in the National League Central reduced to 5 1/2 games over the Cardinals, the Brewers say they're not lacking in confidence.
"It's all in our hands," Craig Counsell said. "Everybody feels really good about that. That is the way you want it to be. We played a whole season to get to this spot. This is the fun time. One of the [goals] you've been chasing is within reach. It's a great time to be on the field."
Entering Friday night's game, Milwaukee's magic number was eight.
Catcher George Kottaras likened the six-month regular-season grind to a roller coaster. There are ups and downs, but in the end, it's all about the destination. He bristled at the proclamations of doom, which have permeated social media.
"Who's panicking?" Kottaras asked. "You look at how our season has unfolded -- there are highs and lows. The high was when we won [26 of 31]. The past is the past. We can't look at the future. We just have to have fun and be relaxed. That's when we're at our best. Your emotions can't go along with the roller-coaster ride."
Narveson tabbed to start Monday vs. Cubs
CINCINNATI -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke had a myriad of options to consider before setting his starting rotation for the upcoming week. The decision has now been made.
Left-hander Chris Narveson, who was skipped in the rotation due to a couple of off-days this past week, is expected to start Monday's series opener at Wrigley Field.
"We planned roughly for Monday, and that's the way it worked out," Narveson said. "It's a huge time of year to be on the mound. To win games now is icing on the cake, hopefully to get our team that much closer to clinching."
Narveson will be followed in the series against the Cubs by Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf.
"We had to slip Narveson in somewhere," Roenicke said. "We thought Marcum needed an extra day. Especially this time of year, if you can give guys a little bit of a break, it's important. If we think it'll help, it's a good time to do it."
Zack Greinke will start Sunday afternoon in the series finale in Cincinnati.
Michael Guerrero is the second Minor League manager this season to join the Brewers' coaching staff. Guerrero, the skipper of Double-A Huntsville, joined the club in Cincinnati and will remain with them for the remainder of the season.
"He'll just try to observe and get to know some of the guys," Roenicke said.
Triple-A Nashville manager Don Money had a prior stint with the Brewers.
Jeff Wallner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.