NEW YORK -- Will Monday's clean inning prove to be a turning point for Brewers seventh-inning specialist Jose Veras? His manager sure hopes so."He needs results," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "I think yesterday's game certainly should help him. If he has a couple more good ones in a row, I think his confidence should be real good again." Veras retired all three Mets hitters he faced with the Brewers trailing, 2-0, in an eventual 3-1 loss. It was his first clean inning in 12 outings since April 21, and his third outing without a hit or a walk in 17 appearances this season. Roenicke suggested that bad luck has continued to Veras' uneven start. "If you look at the pitches he's thrown lately, he's really throwing the ball OK," Roenicke said. "He's not lights-out, but he's throwing the ball OK. But if he makes four good pitches and one mistake, they don't miss the mistake. That's what's going on with him. He's not getting any breaks." Veras' curveball has not been as sharp since it was in Spring Training, Roenicke said, but it was effective on Monday. The seventh is a key inning for the Brewers, who count on Veras as a bridge between the starting rotation and usually reliable relievers Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford.
Weeks hopes homer can get him going
NEW YORK -- Rickie Weeks returned to the Brewers' lineup as promised on Tuesday and went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts. Manager Ron Roenicke is hoping desperately that the one hit was a big one.Weeks' seventh-inning home run in an 8-0 win over the Mets snapped a funk that had grown to 0-for-21. It came a few hours after Roenicke had explained why he thinks his second baseman is slumping and why Weeks continues to bat near the top of the lineup. "The thing is, we need Rickie to swing the bat," Roenicke said. "That's the biggest thing. I mean, for our offense to really go, we need Rickie to swing the bat well. So how do we get Rickie to swing the bat the best? "Is it to leave him second? Is it to put him eighth? Those are the discussions I had with Rick. Where he is, is where he thinks he has a chance more quickly to be where he needs to be." Weeks' input in the matter, Roenicke said, is important. "It is important, because it's mental," Roenicke said. "The hitting part, unless you have an injury, is not physical. It's mental. ... If mentally he is better at a certain spot [in the lineup], then we try to do that." Whatever the cause, Weeks has not hit this season. After striking out twice and grounding out in his first three at-bats Tuesday, Weeks' first start since he was struck on the left hand by a wayward pitch Friday night, he sent a pitch from Mets reliever D.J. Carrasco to the left-field seats. Weeks is hitting .159 and is tied for the National League lead for strikeouts (44). "Even before the homer, it was nice to see good swings from him," Roenicke said. "He's healthy." Before Tuesday, his swings had been less encouraging. You don't need to be a hitting coach to see that Weeks has been diving out over the plate after swings. But the causes of those unbalanced swings, Roenicke said, are mental. "Mentally, there's something going on that makes you do that," Roenicke said. "He probably swings 50-100 times a day [in the batting cage] the right way. So why, when you get in a game, do you have a swing that's completely different than what you do in practice? Something changes up here [in the player's head]. You're thinking, 'Hey, this guy is going to pitch me away, I've got to go out and hit this ball.' The next thing you know, you're diving out over the plate." Weeks gets some say about his spot in the batting order, because he started the All-Star Game last season and has been a productive hitter over the healthy portions of his eight-plus seasons with the Brewers. But Roenicke reserved the right to drop Weeks in the order should his slump persist. "It's not as easy as everybody things -- 'Well, just move him down,'" Roenicke said. "That's easy to say, but it's not that easy to do." Asked whether Weeks viewed batting low in the order as a personal affront, Roenicke said, "The discussions I have with him, a lot of those are between us. This is what we came up with."
Conrad seeking first hit since callup
NEW YORK -- A game on Brooks Conrad's iPad was giving the Brewers' utility man a tough time Tuesday afternoon. Nothing has come easy of late.An 0-for-4 Monday night against the Mets dropped Conrad to 0-for-15 since his promotion from Triple-A Nashville, and he finally reached base Tuesday with a pinch-hit walk. The cold spell comes after he batted .400 with five home runs in 13 RBIs in 15 games with the Sounds. "Obviously, there's a few at-bats where I could have put some better swings on the ball, but overall, I feel I've had some good at-bats," Conrad said. "I hit some balls hard on the last homestand. It's nothing to be worried about. You can't dwell on anything. "It would be nice to get that first [hit] out of the way." The 32-year-old had two big chances on Monday. Conrad struck out with a runner at third and nobody out in the second inning and struck out again in the ninth with two runners on base and the Brewers trailing by two. Conrad started at second base on Monday when Rickie Weeks rested a bruised left hand for the third consecutive game. Weeks was back in the lineup Tuesday night, so Conrad was back on the bench.
The Brewers' top Minor League club has become a comeback specialist. Triple-A Nashville scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning Tuesday for a 9-7 win over Reno. Seven of the Sounds' 14 wins have come courtesy of scoring rallies in their final turn at the plate. And 23 of the Sounds' 38 games have been decided by one or two runs, tied with Memphis for most in the Pacific Coast League.