08/18/12 11:02 PM ET
In backup role, Maldonado able to remain sharp
By Jeremy Warnemuende / MLB.com
Clicking at the plate, Weeks gets rare breather
MILWAUKEE -- Rickie Weeks isn't much for off-days, but Brewers manager Ron Roenicke gave him just that on Saturday against the Phillies.It marked the first time Weeks was out of the starting lineup since June 26, when things were going much differently for the 29-year-old second baseman. At the time, Weeks' average was at .184, and he was batting in the bottom half of the order. Recently, though, Weeks has turned his offensive numbers around. He entered Saturday with a .221 average and hit second or third in each of the last six games. A 4-for-4 performance against the Phillies on July 25 put his average over .200, where it's stayed since, as he's gone 28-for-80 (.350) with 11 RBIs and four home runs in his last 22 games. It's taken months of hard work and time in the cages for Weeks to hit the way he wants to, and Roenicke said he deserved a day to rest. "He's really doing a good job now," Roenicke said. "He's doing what he's always done. I know after the start, I know it was hard. It's nice when you see a guy working the way he did and be able to come back and hit it again." Other than when he played seven games for the Brewers in 2003, Weeks' lowest single-season average came in 2008, when he batted .234 in 129 contests. With roughly 40 more games to surpass that number, Weeks said the work is not done, even though the struggles of the first half of the season are behind him. "The way I am, the guys here -- not just me -- I think we take pride in what we do," Weeks, who struck out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of Saturday's 4-3 loss. "Regardless of what happened in the past or what's going to happen, I think people take pride in working hard and trying to get better and better."
Milwaukee pitching entered Saturday leading the Majors in strikeouts with 1,002. The Brewers are on pace to fan 1,376 batters this year, which would break the previous franchise record of 1,258 set in 2010. The Brewers have a day off on Thursday after a three-game series with the Cubs. They follow that up with 20 straight games, and manager Ron Roenicke said that might mean more breaks, such as the one Rickie Weeks received Saturday, for the players who take the field every day. "I need to think about that a little bit more, try to make sure the guys are good," Roenicke said. "They still feel fine." Roenicke was disappointed to hear that former Brewers infielder Cesar Izturis was designated for assignment by the Nationals on Friday. Washington claimed Izturis off waivers on Aug. 6 after he played in 57 games for Milwaukee this season. Nationals manager Davey Johnson said if Izturis wasn't claimed by a different team in 48 hours, they likely would bring him back to the Major Leagues for September call-ups. "It bums me out because [general manager Doug Melvin's] idea was to let him go because he was going to a contender," Roenicke said. "So that bothers me."
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.