08/05/07 8:04 PM ET
Notes: Linebrink grateful for time off
Reliever appreciates club letting him be with wife, baby
By Kelvin Ang / MLB.com
After all, his debut came during the Brewers' comeback from a four-run deficit that tied the largest they've overcome this year. Several Brewers also said afterward they couldn't recall the Miller Park faithful cheering louder than they did Saturday night.
"It was a great game -- it had a little bit of everything and it was great to see us come back like that," Linebrink said. "This is an atmosphere like I've never seen in Milwaukee. To see the fans come out and support us like that, I mean, it was rocking in here."
Linebrink's first appearance at Miller Park went as smoothly as he could have wanted. He faced the meat of the Phillies' order -- Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Aaron Rowand -- but dispatched them 1-2-3 on 11 pitches.
The right-hander topped that performance on Sunday afternoon, when he relieved Carlos Villanueva in the eighth inning with runners on second and third and no outs and struck out all three batters he faced.
Linebrink once again had to face Philadelphia's 3-4-5 hitters -- Pat Burrell, Howard and Rowand -- and he prevailed in the rematch, keeping them off-balance with his mid-90s heater and a low-80s changeup.
"It's never easy -- they've certainly got arguably one of the best lineups in the National League," Linebrink said. "You just come in and try to throw strikes, try to get quick outs."
Linebrink said he felt grateful the Brewers placed him on the bereavement list to let him spend the four days he did with his wife and first-born child. Kelly Linebrink spent hours in labor on Monday before undergoing a Caesarian section surgery to deliver Ellie Jane that night.
It would have been impossible for Linebrink to concentrate on baseball had he been away from his wife at a time like that, he said.
"I was glad to have those four days to spend at home with them," Linebrink said. "It's always going to be a challenge. They'll always be close to my heart every time I go out there, but I know they're waiting at home for me."
Proving Coco wrong: Closer Francisco Cordero said after Saturday's win that he was glad Corey Hart was playing in right field during his ninth-inning stint.
Phillies second baseman Tadahito Iguchi clubbed what appeared to be a no-doubt home run ball that the 6-foot-6 Hart snatched out of the air at the right-field wall, and Cordero joked that if lefty specialist Brian Shouse was in right field, the game would have been tied.
Maybe Cordero hasn't seen Shouse pulling back home run balls during batting practice then, because the southpaw said he has done it several times this season.
"Every once in a while in batting practice, I'll go out there and try to rob one," Shouse said, grinning. "It's just something that's fun. It gives me something to do."
The Brewers media guide lists Shouse as 5-foot-11, although the estimate appears generous by a few inches. Nonetheless, the hurler said he can reach over the right-field fence if he leaps.
Shouse also has experience playing the outfield, both in high school as well as at Bradley University. But Shouse wouldn't go so far as to say he would have robbed Iguchi of the home run.
"I don't know about that," Shouse said.
Routine day off: Manager Ned Yost omitted Bill Hall from the starting lineup Sunday afternoon, calling it a routine day off for the center fielder. Hart took Hall's place in center field.
Hall snapped an 0-for-15 streak with a sixth-inning single Saturday evening, but he still is batting just .205 (9-for-44) since returning from the disabled list.
"His ankle's not hurting," Yost said. "[But] they taped his ankle for support, and he's kind of uncomfortable with that a little bit, and now they're trying some other things, like lace-up ankle supports, to see if that will help. I think that has a little bit to do with [his slump] too, just getting back to a comfort level."
Minor League mashers: Yost said teams sometimes worry about young players struggling to adjust to life back in the Minors after getting demoted from the big leagues.
But a look at Triple-A Nashville's Saturday box score may temporarily soothe Yost's fear of that happening to the Brewers.
Tony Gwynn Jr., Gabe Gross and Rickie Weeks combined to go 6-for-10 with six RBIs in Nashville's 10-9 win over Portland on Saturday. Gross hammered two home runs and drove in four runs, and his batting average now rests at .333.
Weeks' 3-for-4 showing boosted his average to .571 (4-for-7) in his two games at Nashville, proving Yost's initial prediction true that the second baseman would respond well to the demotion.
"Rickie's a real competitor," Yost said. "Nobody wants to go down, but there's certain things that you have to accomplish to get back up here and be productive."
On deck: The Brewers will try to reverse their road struggles when they kick off a seven-day, six-game road trip with a showdown against the Rockies on Monday at 8:05 p.m. CT. The National League Central front-runners will send Claudio Vargas (9-3, 4.78 ERA) to the mound to face Josh Fogg (5-7, 4.87).
Kelvin Ang is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.