CHICAGO -- John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez had approximately the same reaction in the Wrigley Field clubhouse Monday after Yankees closer Mariano Rivera logged his 602nd save, breaking Trevor Hoffman's year-old Major League record.
Axford, the Brewers' second-year closer who was mentored last season by Hoffman, called it "huge." Rodriguez, the single-season record-holder with 62 saves, called it "ridiculous."
"I remember specifically trying to think about how big a number 600 was and how you get to that number," Axford said. "That's 40 saves every year for 15 years. It's mind-boggling when you think about it, and both of those guys have done it."
Rodriguez is fourth among active pitchers with 291 saves, though he has been pitching exclusively as a setup man to Axford since a July trade from New York.
He found 602 saves hard to fathom.
"It seems ridiculous," Rodriguez said. "It's hard to imagine. It's a lot of work, a lot of sacrifice and a lot of years -- consistency. It's not easy. ... It's something that's hard to think about."
Weeks plays full game for first time since injury
CHICAGO -- Second baseman Rickie Weeks supplied the silver lining to the Brewers' 5-2 loss to the Cubs on Monday. He played all nine innings of a game for the first time in nearly two months, clearing a final hurdle in his return from a severely sprained left ankle.It marked Weeks' sixth start since returning from the disabled list, and he went 0-for-3 with a walk. Before Monday, he had played only partial games since being reinstated. "He said he felt good after the game, so I think that's a good sign," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He didn't run around a lot during the ballgame, and I think that's one of the reasons I didn't really think about taking him out of there." Weeks found his way onto the highlight reel in the fourth inning, when he ranged into the outfield for an over-the-shoulder catch of Starlin Castro's popup with two runners on base, two outs and the Cubs bidding to build on their 3-1 lead. Weeks ended the inning with a sliding catch and earned high-fives from right fielder Corey Hart and center fielder Nyjer Morgan. At the plate, Weeks is 3-for-13 since returning to action. Roenicke will continue to work in conjunction with head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger to determine how much Weeks plays on a day-to-day basis. Weeks will be playing at less than full strength for the remainder of the year. "The running, it looks like it's getting better all the time," Roenicke said before Monday's game. "It's still not there, but it's getting better. I see him taking better swings at the plate. That's still not there yet. It may take a while. For being out as long as he was, and coming back and really not having any live at-bats, he's doing really well."
Hairston homers in rare start at shortstop
CHICAGO -- Consider this an opportunity rather than an audition for Jerry Hairston Jr.
With Yuniesky Betancourt struggling to find consistency, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke gave Hairston the nod at shortstop for the opener of a three-game set against the Cubs. Hairston responded with a solo blast in the third inning, but the Brewers' bats scuffled in a 5-2 loss.
"I don't want to say that he couldn't [eclipse Betancourt at shortstop,] because if he got real hot and was playing good defense, then yeah, that could happen," Roenicke said prior to the game. "[But] that's not why I put him there, to say, 'I hope he gets hot so I can play him there.'"
This was Hairston's first start at short this season, although he made one appearance there for the Nationals before being traded after he pinch-hit on July 29. Shortstop is nothing new for the 14-year veteran, who has played in 139 games at short over his career, batting .293 with nine homers and 52 RBIs.
Even though this is his first time at shortstop wearing a Brewers uniform, Hairston doesn't feel the need to prove he can play.
"I don't think of it that way," Hairston said. "I played short last year on a pretty good team. I played quite a bit of short in Cincinnati [in 2008 and 2009] as well. So I just go out and play, and hopefully play well."
Hairston has struggled offensively lately, and his blast snapped an 0-for-18 slump. The slump may have been the result of neck and left shoulder stiffness he's been experiencing for the past two weeks. Hairston underwent an epidural injection on Thursday to treat the stiffness.
"Trust me, it was not a pleasant experience," he said. "It's definitely something I do not want to have again. [The stiffness] kept getting worse and worse, and my whole side basically locked up from the nerve being really inflamed. The body wants to protect itself, and it starts shutting down. Hopefully, I've turned the corner."
Milwaukee acquired Hairston from Washington just before the Trade Deadline for minor league outfielder Erik Komatsu. Over 38 games with the Brewers, including 26 starts, he is batting .248 with six doubles, the Monday's homer and five RBIs.
Though he's stuck in a slump now, Hairston remained optimistic prior to the game.
"That means I'm due," he said.
The Brewers are staying series to series with their pitching until they clinch the National League Central, at which point they can more precisely align their starters for a postseason series. Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke are currently aligned to pitch their final regular season games on Friday and Saturday against the Marlins, but they would then have to wait more than a week before starting a Division Series game."Until we clinch this thing, we're going with what we have and as good as we can do," manager Ron Roenicke said. Class A Wisconsin's Jeff Paxson was named Midwest League athletic trainer of the year by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society, a familiar honor. In 18 seasons with the Brewers organization, Paxson has been honored with the award five times in various leagues, including each of the past two seasons with Wisconsin. Paxson is now in the running for the Minor League Athletic Trainer of the Year Award, which will be announced at the Winter Meetings in December. John Axford leads the Brewers in saves and rookie dress-up days. Veteran teammates dressed him as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 2009 (Axford is from Ontario) and as a pirate in 2010 (Axford has a sweet mustache). On Sunday, as the Brewers traveled from Cincinnati to Chicago, they dressed Axford as a biker chick.
Axford narrowly missed the cut. He entered the year with 170 days of Major League service, two days shy of one full year.
"You just have to embrace what you're wearing and strut your stuff out there," Axford said.
His favorite outfit on Sunday belonged to infielder Taylor Green, who was dressed as one of the "green man" characters most recently popularized by two especially avid Vancouver Canucks fans. It was not simply name association; the Brewers' Green man is actually from Vancouver Island.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Samuel Zuba is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.