02/18/10 8:00 AM EST
Macha more comfortable in second year
Brewers manager focusing on baserunning, defense
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
2. Casey McGehee, 3B
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Corey Hart, RF
6. Gregg Zaun, C
7. Carlos Gomez, CF
9. Alcides Escobar, SS That's subject to change over the next six weeks, of course, especially the idea of batting the pitcher in the eight-hole. The Brewers have tried that alignment a number of times over the past two seasons with varying results, and Macha remains intrigued by either Gomez or Escobar in the nine-spot. The idea is to get another man on base in front of the Brewers' fabulous No. 3 and 4 hitters. "We'll have to see," Macha said. "I tried Escobar there last year, and the key is you've got to get on base. If you get somebody who gets on at a .360 [on-base percentage] rate, then it has some advantages. It may be something to look at a bit further." As for the starting rotation, Macha said that all six primary competitors for the rotation -- Dave Bush, Doug Davis, Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra, Jeff Suppan and Randy Wolf -- would be on an even playing field. Barring injury, though, it seems extremely likely that Gallardo, Wolf and Davis will lead the group into the season. Macha wasn't ready to officially name Gallardo his Opening Day starter, but it comes as no surprise that he's the leading competitor. "It would be nice to put it out there for him this year," Macha said. While options for the lineup and rotation bounce around his head, Macha plans to focus on a couple of areas in Spring Training workouts: Baserunning "It's not necessarily the amount of stolen bases that you get, it's when you steal these bases," Macha said. "And it's also going from first to third, scoring from first base on a double or from second on a base hit. Moving up a base on a ball in the dirt. I think we can improve on those areas, and I have an idea about some things to implement." Defense "We didn't have many outfield assists last season," Macha said. "It's also about hitting the cutoff man, keeping the other guys from taking extra bases." Controlling opponents' running game
"Controlling baserunners doesn't come from the catcher," Macha said. "It comes from the pitchers, and that's got to improve."Macha will have a strong ally in that final endeavor in new pitching coach Rick Peterson, who also worked with and then for Macha in Oakland. The arrival of a veteran pitching coach should allow Macha to be more hands-off in that area than he was in 2009, when longtime bullpen coach Bill Castro was promoted but then dismissed in August. Peterson is the only new addition to a staff that otherwise returns intact. That fact puts Macha more at ease than at this time last year. "And it's not just me knowing them, it's them knowing me. That's going to be key," Macha said. "That should go for the players, too." Maybe he will get fewer blank stares when he distributes that handout this time. "Now that they've been through it for a year, maybe they'll look at that chart and say, 'OK, this makes some sense," Macha said. "There's some familiarity there, and that's going to help."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.