08/15/12 3:00 PM ET
Brewers planning for Marcum's return to rotation
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
Manager Ron Roenicke and pitching coach Rick Kranitz have a Plan A and Plan B, and will pick based on the results of Marcum's outing in Beloit, Wis., on Wednesday night. In one scenario, the Brewers would bump right-hander Mark Rogers' next start by a day to keep Marcum on his fifth day -- Monday against the Cubs at Miller Park -- and could at least temporarily employ a six-man rotation.
An off-day later that week would prompt some further shuffling, Roenicke said.
"I can't really say exactly what's going on," Roenicke said. "We have it planned out, but we're still going to wait and see what happens, for one, with Marcum today, to see if he's OK and if he needs another start in the Minor Leagues."
More changes could be ahead for the Brewers' rotation, with some young pitchers (Mike Fiers, Rogers) potentially reaching innings limits and others (Wily Peralta, Tyler Thornburg) in line for September call-ups. Roenicke said he expects left-hander Randy Wolf to remain in the rotation through the end of the season.
Slumping Braun gets rare off-day
DENVER -- This was a first for Brewers manager Ron Roenicke: Leaving Ryan Braun out of the starting lineup not due to an injury, not because of a need for rest, but due to production.
Braun was on the bench for Wednesday's series finale at Coors Field after going 6-for-42 (.143) over his previous 10 games, including an 0-for-5 on Tuesday night that included a strikeout with the bases loaded in the eighth inning and a game-ending flyout in the ninth with the tying run on base.
The reigning National League Most Valuable Player still leads the league with 29 home runs, but has not hit one since winning a 14-pitch battle with Astros reliever Fernando Rodriguez at Miller Park on Aug. 1.
"Talking to him, trying to figure out how to get him back, sometimes we talk about guys needing to go out there and play and they'll get it back, and sometimes taking a day off helps," Roenicke said. "Whatever we're doing, it's not working lately. I've never seen him struggle this long."
Roenicke raised the idea with Braun on Tuesday night of taking a day off. The slugger thought about it for some time before agreeing.
"He's frustrated," Roenicke said. "I don't want to say it's the worst that I've seen him, because when he's doing well, he gets frustrated if he goes 0-for two days in a row. I think he's just more baffled as to why it's lasting this long, because it usually doesn't. We talked yesterday about how really consistent he's been this year -- more than I saw him last year."
Last year, on the way to winning the Brewers' first league MVP award since Robin Yount in 1989, Braun was more streaky. This season he has mostly avoided the ups and downs and been a steady contributor, even without Prince Fielder's presence in the on-deck circle affecting pitchers' approaches to Braun.
Despite his current funk, Braun remains one of baseball's most dangerous hitters. Entering Wednesday, only five players, all in the American League, had more home runs than Braun. He was tied for second in the NL with 237 total bases, third with a .567 slugging percentage and tied for fourth with 77 RBIs.
Speaking about his slump on Tuesday afternoon, Braun said: "It just lets me know that the longer I don't go good, the higher the likelihood is that I will have a good game and get locked back in. I feel good. As long as I feel good, physically, I'm fine. I have no doubt that I'm going to finish the season strong."
Roenicke said Braun would return to the lineup for Thursday's series opener against the Phillies at Miller Park.
• The Brewers announced their plans to unveil a statue of Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker at Miller Park's Home Plate Plaza on Aug. 31. A formal program will begin at 1:30 p.m. CT, with what the team described as a "very limited" amount of standing room seating available at no charge for the general public. Space will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Fans who attend will need to exit the parking areas after the event and re-enter if they choose to attend that night's game.
Uecker's statue will join those of Hank Aaron, Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig and Robin Yount.
• Manager Ron Roenicke has been impressed with left-hander Manny Parra's return from a 17-day hiatus, due to an impingement in his throwing shoulder. In two appearances since he was sidelined, Parra has worked a pair of scoreless innings with no walks, one hit and two strikeouts.
"The first one, I was really trying to feel it out," Parra said. "But [Tuesday against the Rockies], I let it go a little bit better. It's getting better. ... I feel like I've made some steps as far as my focus. Hopefully, it does translate into [success]."
As the only lefty in the bullpen, Parra could be called upon often during the Brewers' four-game series against Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and the Phillies, which begins Thursday.