05/22/12 1:57 AM ET
Brewers try putting Hart at first base
By Jordan Schelling and Jeremy Warnemuende / MLB.com
Four days after moving into the leadoff spot in an effort to jump-start the offense, Hart made just his second career start at first base Monday against the Giants at Miller Park.
Hart had started 145 games as Milwaukee's leadoff hitter before manager Ron Roenicke juggled the lineup Friday. He's been atop the order three times since the move, but Monday against the Giants, he became the first Brewers first baseman to bat leadoff since Mark Loretta on Sept. 21, 1999.
"Right now, we're in the trial mode," Hart said. "We need to find a way to get things in a better rhythm. Right now, it's not working, and I think we're going to keep trying things, lineup shuffles, and something's going to work. We have a good enough team that one of these situations, you're going to come up and it will be a positive."
Entering Monday, Hart was a career .282 hitter with a .336 on-base percentage in 693 plate appearances in the one-hole. His .527 slugging percentage from that position is actually the highest for any of the four spots in which Hart has hit extensively -- first, second, fifth and sixth.
He batted leadoff for extended stints in 2007, when Rickie Weeks was out with a right wrist injury, and in 2011, when the Brewers flipped Weeks and Hart in the order to generate more production from the five-hole, where Hart was uncomfortable batting behind Prince Fielder.
As far as first base goes, Hart hadn't started there since 2006 and had only played parts of four games at that position. He did play 179 games at first while in the Minors, more than any other position except for third base (187).
Roenicke said he'd rather move Hart to first permanently as opposed to switching him between there and right field. Hart said first base is "not my favorite spot," but he won't complain as long as he's in the lineup.
"Right now we're trying to do whatever we can to get wins," Hart said. "And if that's going to help, then I'll go over there."
Groin tightness forces Braun to exit
MILWAUKEE -- After grounding out to end the bottom of the 10th inning Monday against the Giants at Miller Park, Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun left the game with tightness in his right groin.Following the 4-3, 14-inning loss, Braun said the injury wasn't bad, but he didn't know if he'd be able to play Tuesday in Game 2 against San Francisco. "We'll see how it feels tomorrow," he said. Nyjer Morgan replaced Braun in left field in the top of the 11th with the game tied at 3. Braun hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to even the score and eventually send it to extra innings before Milwaukee lost on Hector Sanchez's solo shot in the top of the 14th. The reigning National League MVP finished the night 2-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Morgan grounded out with runners at first and second and two outs in the bottom of the 12th in his only at-bat in Braun's place. Braun, who missed one game earlier this month with a sore right Achilles tendon, said he suffered a similar groin injury during Spring Training. "A little different area," he said. "It's not as bad as it was then, so it's not too serious."
Ejection perplexes Brewers reliever Dillard
MILWAUKEE -- Tim Dillard was as surprised as anyone that he was ejected Sunday for throwing a pitch behind Twins infielder Jamey Carroll.
"I didn't really realize it for a second either," said Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who had to inform Dillard that he had, in fact, been ejected. "I guess whenever you miss by that much, guys start wondering what's going on."
Now Dillard is left to wonder what further punishment might come his way in the form of a fine or suspension. Dillard should be fine unless he finds an envelope waiting at his locker.
There was one there Monday afternoon, but it was just a harmless note about the Babe Ruth League.
What caught Dillard most by surprise was that no warnings had been issued prior to his ejection.
"He throws sidearm, man," said fellow reliever Kameron Loe, who finished the ninth following the ejection. "Sometimes he lets one go in the right-handed batter's box."
Adding to the question of Dillard's intent were the postgame comments from Carroll, who said Lucroy mentioned Nyjer Morgan's name before home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt cut their conversation short.
That would seem to imply retaliation on the Brewers' part for Morgan getting hit by a pitch earlier in the game, but Lucroy said that was not the case.
"I said 'Nyjer Morgan,' but it was more on the basis like, 'Yeah, I think they thought that you said they threw at Nyjer Morgan on purpose or something,'" Lucroy said Monday. "I really don't know; that's all I said. And I didn't think it was anything more than that.
"I think it was just a miscommunication. I don't think he heard me because the umpire kind of cut us off."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said he had read the comments from Carroll, but Roenicke did not wish to comment on the situation.
Brewers stick with Kottaras-Wolf battery
MILWAUKEE -- As well as Jonathan Lucroy has been swinging the bat lately, it was not enough to get him the start Monday behind the plate, even with lefty Madison Bumgarner on the mound for the Giants.
Instead, manager Ron Roenicke stuck with the left-handed-hitting George Kottaras, who typically catches Brewers starter Randy Wolf.
"I didn't wrestle with it, but we did talk about it today," Roenicke said. "I like both of our catchers. I can't imagine production-wise if there's any better pair in the Major Leagues."
Lucroy entered Monday leading the Brewers with a .342 average, including four home runs and 27 RBIs. He drove in seven of those runs Sunday, becoming the sixth player in club history to match that franchise record and the first since Corey Hart had seven RBIs on May 23, 2011, against the Nationals.
A first-inning solo homer and his first career grand slam accounted for Lucroy's first career multi-homer game in what also was his first start batting cleanup. Lucroy's .552 average (16-for-29) with runners in scoring position entering Monday was the best in baseball.
But even as well as Lucroy has been hitting, he doesn't mind sitting out every fifth day.
"It's nice for me to have a built-in off-day every five days," Lucroy said. "And it's not like Georgey can't hit. The guy rakes, let's be honest. With Wolfy pitching, him and George work together very well, so why try to fix it if it ain't broke?"
While Roenicke does like the combination of Wolf and Kottaras, he admitted that he might prefer to be able to use Lucroy in a game like Monday's, with a lefty on the mound.
Lucroy has caught Wolf five times in the past -- twice in 2010 and three times last season -- with the veteran left-hander going 2-2 and posting a 3.10 ERA in those games. Wolf entered Monday's start 24-23 with a 4.37 ERA in 60 games with Kottaras behind the plate.
But the preference has more to do with the ability of Kottaras and Wolf to get on the same page a little better than Wolf and Lucroy.
"I like them both out there," Roenicke said. "[But] I think there should be some times when I'd rather put Luc in there catching Randy. Tonight would be one of them. But we need to talk to them more about that if we decide we're going to go that way."
Students get valuable advice from Brewers
MILWAUKEE -- Before Monday's game against the Giants, Brewers players and front-office members went to five Milwaukee public schools to work with students in accordance with the team's S.C.O.R.E. program.
An acronym that stands for school, community, opportunities, role models and excellence, S.C.O.R.E. focuses on helping students with communication and other life skills. The program also gave kids in Milwaukee a chance to interact with some of their favorite Brewers players.
"It was awesome," said relief pitcher Tim Dillard, who was joined by four of his teammates at Lincoln Center of the Arts on Milwaukee's east side. "We didn't know if anybody knew who we were or not, but we get the round of applause when we're getting introduced, and we get to [starting pitcher Zack Greinke] and the whole place goes nuts. It was fun."
Dillard's group worked with sixth graders at Lincoln Center of the Arts, but the Brewers talked to students of all ages, including high schoolers at Milwaukee School of Languages, where players such as Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks were present.
The Klement's Famous Racing Sausages also accompanied the Milwaukee players to add a little fun, but Dillard said the most important thing was that the students listened to the message the Brewers brought with them.
"Mainly for me, I tried to get the point across that we don't get where we are without getting help, and there's help out there," Dillard said. "It's about latching onto the people doing the right things and who want to see them succeed. Just letting them know that there's people out there."
With Loe's pitch count getting high in the ninth inning Sunday, the Brewers were a batter away from bringing in a position player to close out the ballgame. Roenicke said center fielder Carlos Gomez and infielder Edwin Maysonet were his first two options.
"I would have Gomey do it for sure, except I really think that he would be trying to throw 100 [mph] and looking up at the clock," Roenicke said. "If it wasn't for that, I would bring him in."
Gomez batted in the No. 5 hole Monday. Gomez entered the game with 12 plate appearances in that slot over 24 games, but it was his first career start batting fifth.
Pitcher Shaun Marcum threw a bullpen session Sunday, four days after he tweaked a muscle along his rib cage before a game against the Astros. All went well, according to Marcum and Roenicke, and the right-hander said he'll have no problem making his scheduled start Tuesday against the Giants.
Jordan Schelling is a contributor to MLB.com. Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.