04/21/2013 2:35 PM ET
Brewers bullpen showing signs of promise
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' bullpen entered Sunday on a hot streak, but manager Ron Roenicke said he was still feeling out roles for his various relievers.
"We're just starting the season and I'm trying to figure out our bullpen and how to use them, and they're trying to figure out how I'm going to use them," Roenicke said. "It's still a little early.
"I definitely like the way [Michael] Gonzalez is throwing the ball lately. [Tom] Gorzelanny has been pretty good; originally we were thinking [of a long relief role] for him, maybe against left-handers, and all of a sudden I'm pitching him in the eighth inning. So I'll try to figure that one out. It's still ongoing. [Brandon] Kintzler looked so good [on Saturday], I feel like the next time we have an opportunity and we're tight and late in a game, I have no problem using him. I think it's still too early to figure out where exactly they're all going to fit in."
Recent signs were encouraging. In the eight games prior to Sunday's series finale against the Cubs, including six straight victories, Brewers relievers were 3-0 with a 1.46 ERA, three saves and a .188 opponents' average (18-for-85).
"This is good stuff right now," Roenicke said.
Burke Badenhop, another reliever lauded by Roenicke for recent results, said much of the credit belonged to Jim Henderson, the right-hander installed as closer after John Axford was temporarily removed from the role. Henderson did not give up a run in seven of his first eight outings.
Roenicke has been clear -- he said so again Sunday morning -- that the goal is restoring Axford to the closer's role.
"It's a confidence thing," Badnehop said. "And not only confidence, but you see a pitcher pitching good, and you want to go out there and pitch good as well. … Someone has to take the lead, and I think Jim has kind of done that. You can see guys falling into place.
"'Ax' has looked good in his last couple [outings] too, and we're definitely going to have to have him. We're going to need everybody going forward."
Weeks looks to swing way out of long slump
MILWAUKEE -- Rickie Weeks was called into the manager's office Sunday to talk about taking a day off. After an 8-for-18 start to the season, he had four hits and 22 strikeouts in his last 45 at-bats. Manager Ron Roenicke thought it might be time for a break.
But Weeks made a case to play. When the lineup was posted in the clubhouse, he was back at second base and batting cleanup.
"Rick, he doesn't want it off," Roenicke said. "Sometimes, it comes to [simply telling a player he's sitting out]. But it's not something he wants on his part.
"His thinking is, for him, probably right. Say we give him today off, how do we know today isn't the day that he bounces out of this thing? If he's not in there, he has no chance to get out of it. That's his thinking, and it's good thinking. It depends on the personality, whether that works or not.
"He's going to get out of this. It's a matter of what day it is, and the more I keep him in there, the more I feel like he's going to get out of it."
The cleanup spot has been problematic for the Brewers since Aramis Ramirez went to the disabled list with a sprained left knee. The Brewers entered Sunday ranked 28th of 30 Major League teams with a .531 OPS from their No. 4 hitters, and tied for 25th with five RBIs.
Brewers mulling next step for rookie Burgos
MILWAUKEE -- What's next for rookie starter Hiram Burgos? That question remained unanswered on Sunday morning.
Burgos on Saturday night became the first Brewers pitcher since Yovani Gallardo in 2007 to win his Major League debut, holding the Cubs to five well-placed hits and only one run in five innings. He would have pitched more, but the Brewers went to a pinch-hitter with a chance to go ahead in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The team now has three choices: Keep Burgos in the starting rotation and simply give everyone an extra day of rest when the team encounters off-days, shift Burgos to the bullpen until they require a fifth starter again on April 30 against the Pirates, or option Burgos back to Triple-A Nashville and summon a true reliever until that fifth starter's spot comes up.
"We're going to wait and see what happens with Wily [Peralta, who started Sunday], see if we like the fit of Burgos and Peralta back-to-back, or we'll split those up a little bit," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We're trying to make it fit, but not over think it."
One thing was certain.
"Burgos did his part," Roenicke said.
• Roenicke flipped Alex Gonzalez and Yuniesky Betancourt's positions on Sunday, moving Betancourt to third base and Gonzalez back to first, where he played most of the spring before moving to third when Aramis Ramirez was injured.
"I'm seeing if maybe that gets him swinging the bat a little bit better," Roenicke said of Gonzalez, who entered the day batting .136 with four RBIs. "He's frustrated about it, but we need to get him going."
• Outfielder Logan Schafer delivered the Brewers' first successful squeeze bunt of the season in Saturday's win over the Cubs and predicted he'd have more chances.
"I've bunted quite a bit in the Minor Leagues on my way up," Schafer said. "That's in my arsenal. It does feel great. I've done it enough that I expect it [to be successful]. ... When you see [Ryan] Braun crossing the plate before the ball is even picked up, that's always nice."
• The Brewers open a three-game series in San Diego on Monday. The last time they played a series opener there, Braun belted three home runs and came close to a historic fourth, settling for a two-run triple that bounced just shy of the warning track in right-center field. The Padres brought the fences in at Petco Park over the winter, and that triple may have been another home run with the new dimensions.