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06/06/08 9:20 PM ET
Kapler stays in for Yost, Brewers
Hot-hitting outfielder starts in center over Cameron
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
DENVER -- A four-hit Wednesday earned the Brewers' Gabe Kapler a second straight start in center field on Friday night and meant Mike Cameron remained on the bench. It also gave manager Ned Yost a chance to concede a point many of his detractors have charged for years. "I think, at times, I might stick with guys a little bit longer than I probably should," Yost said. "But that's just who I am and the way that I do things." Rather, the way he did things. In choosing Kapler, who went 6-for-10 on the Brewers' just-completed homestand, over Cameron, who went 2-for-26 (.115) during that span, Yost was riding the hot hand. He essentially did the same thing about two weeks ago, installing Russell Branyan alongside Bill Hall in a third-base platoon, as Hall struggled to hit right-handed pitching. "Common sense dictates it right now," Yost said of the Kapler-Cameron switch, which he billed as a part-time solution that could last "a day or two."
"I don't know how it plays out. We'll just have to wait and see," Yost said.Kapler, 32 and one year removed from a brief Minor League managerial stint, entered Friday's game hitting .330 this season with four home runs and 19 RBIs in 91 at-bats. Cameron, meanwhile, was hitting .220 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs in 127 at-bats and has struck out once every 2.8 at-bats. He signed a one-year free-agent contract with the Brewers over the offseason and has been given a long leash by Yost partly because of his history of production and partly because he plays a well above-average center field. As recently as Wednesday morning, before Kapler matched his career high with four hits and the Brewers capped an 8-1 homestand, Yost said he planned to stick with Cameron, "because when he gets hot, he can carry a team." "That's how I was made, I think," Yost said. "When I played in my career, I always felt that if I struggled a little bit and the manager gave me a chance to work through it, I'd always find a way to get through it. In times that they didn't, I never got through it." The Brewers' high expectations and sluggish start has softened that stance. "I still believe in every player that we have in that clubhouse," Yost said. "But when a guy is as hot as Gabe is, you'd better take full advantage of it. And, you know, there is some accountability that plays into it. We have to hold everybody to that standard. Not just one guy or two guys." Yost is conscious of the fact he is on a slippery slope. If he sits certain slumping players, must he do the same with others? Catcher Jason Kendall, for example, has drawn raves from pitchers for his game-calling skills and he leads the Majors throwing out 44.7 percent of would-be basestealers, but Kendall had one hit in 24 at-bats (.042) on the homestand. "I've been thinking about this the whole time," Yost said. "Cameron brings his defense, too, every day. But yes, [Kendall's] defense has been very, very good."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.