7/25/2013 2:27 P.M. ET
Roenicke mulling ways to keep lineup fresh, productive
By Adam McCalvy and Kevin Massoth / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Jean Segura batted in the Brewers' No. 3 spot for the fifth straight game Thursday, including all four games since Ryan Braun was suspended for the remainder of the season, but manager Ron Roenicke is mulling a change.
Segura was 2-for-17 with one extra-base hit and two RBIs in his prior four starts hitting third, and Roenicke says a lineup change could happen, depending on performance and conversations with his All-Star shortstop.
"Now that we know that Ryan won't be here for the year, that third spot, I want to try to figure out how to do that right," Roenicke said. "I don't know if that's a place that [Segura is] comfortable staying. I want him to be comfortable. He's done such a good job for us, I hate to put him in a spot where he's not comfortable in the lineup."
Segura, who entered Thursday second on the Brewers with 31 extra-base hits, had not hit a home run in 119 plate appearances entering the team's series finale with the Padres. He had five doubles and no triples in that span.
Roenicke does not attribute Segura's recent struggles to hitting third, though, noting he has been playing through nagging injuries.
"I don't think it's that spot," Roenicke said. "Since he hurt his thumb, I don't think he's swung the bat as well. And that's been quite a while now. Early on, we saw him just hit what seemed like line drives all over the field, and I'm not really seeing that too much anymore. He'll still hit some hard balls, but I think that has to do with being banged up."
Filling out the lineup every day has been a challenge for Roenicke, as he is missing his Nos. 3-5 hitters with the absence of Braun to suspension and Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart to injuries.
He said giving his top five hitters -- Rickie Weeks, Norichika Aoki, Segura, Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez -- any off-days is difficult, given Milwaukee's current lack of star power.
"I would certainly like to play them most days," Roenicke said. "I guess where it comes in is when production goes down and I feel like they have a day off, if the production has a chance to go up, then I'll give them a day off."
He added: "And I know some of the production has come down already. Some of it we're talking about has to do with some guys with some injuries. I think Gomez, I really believe that part of that, whatever it was -- two weeks -- where he didn't swing the bat well was because of some injuries. And I think Segura, the reason he's not swinging the bat better is because he's banged up some. So if I thought one day would help them to recover and be better, once in a while I'll give Nori [Aoki] a day off, and it helps him, then I'll do that."
Is that harder to do now without Braun and Ramirez in the lineup?
"Yes, it is harder," Roenicke said. "No question."
Lohse: Free agents will judge Brewers openly
MILWAUKEE -- A prominent baseball writer raised a new question on Day 4 of the Ryan Braun suspension: Given the unprecedented, on-the-record venom toward Braun from fellow Major Leaguers, will the Brewers face an even greater challenge luring free-agent players?
Conceding that most players follow the money, FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote, "Many players are angry at Braun for claiming he had done nothing wrong. Some free agents, though, also might question whether Braun will be the same hitter now that he will face more rigorous testing, and whether the Brewers' offense will be diminished as a result."
The Brewers' biggest recent free-agent acquisition, right-hander Kyle Lohse, was not ready to make that leap.
"We're in the first week of this," said Lohse, who has purposely kept a low profile in the wake of Braun's suspension. "There's a lot more that's going to happen in terms of how Ryan handles his part. I know everybody wants to make headlines and say all kinds of things, but I think we should wait a little bit before making bold statements."
Lohse predicted that free agents would continue to judge Milwaukee on whether they fit for the Brewers and whether they see the organization heading in the right direction. He added of Braun: "To be honest with you, I know as much about this as you do, probably less, because I haven't been reading stuff."
No one in a Brewers uniform is more disappointed by the team's dismal season than Lohse, who signed a three-year, $33 million contract at the end of Spring Training because, beyond the fact Milwaukee made the best offer, he viewed the club as a contender. Instead, the Brewers have the second-worst record in the National League.
Another newcomer, reliever Burke Badenhop, who came to the team in a December 2012 trade, was not buying the idea that the Braun mess will hurt the Brewers' chances with free agents.
"I really wouldn't see how that would factor in," Badenhop said. "It's a thing that did happen, but when you're looking at a place to play and an ownership group and the ballclub and the manager -- I'm pretty sure those people should not be held accountable [for a player getting suspended]. It's not really connected to the club. Is nobody going to play for the Yankees now [because of Alex Rodriguez's alleged involvement with Biogenesis]?
"I think it comes down to each player individually. Some are obviously more fed up with it than others. But that would not have been in the top 10 things for me if I was thinking about a team. I don't think the Brewers are going to suffer -- this is a great ballpark, a great place to play."
Crew reliever Gonzalez aware of trade possibility
MILWAUKEE -- When the Brewers traded closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Orioles on Tuesday, did it raise left-hander Michael Gonzalez's eyebrows? Like Rodriguez, Gonzalez is a veteran free agent who has been heavily scouted in advance of Wednesday's 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"You always have your eyebrows raised when you're a [pending] free agent," Gonzalez said. "Especially when you're a left-hander."
But Gonzalez, who entered Thursday with a 2.88 ERA overall and a 0.87 ERA in his last 13 outings, insisted he pays no attention to trade rumors and rarely checks in with agent Dan Lozano about what Lozano is hearing.
"I'm a guy that's been traded twice already," Gonzalez said. "I've always been a guy who would rather not talk about it. If it happens, it happens. But [the rumors] have never been right on point, and then all of a sudden, it happens."
Gonzalez was traded from the Pirates to the Braves in January 2007, and from the Orioles to the Rangers in August 2011. The Braves are in the market for left-handed relief again, and had a scout at Miller Park this week.
• Roenicke plans to give Juan Francisco the bulk of the playing time at first base, but that could change if he continues to struggle at the plate. Francisco entered Thursday in a 2-for-28 slump and had a rough game Wednesday, stranding seven runners in an 0-for-4 effort.
"His at-bats are to the point where I would put somebody else out there," Roenicke said. "If Sean [Halton] had been swinging the bat better, Sean would have some more games out there."
• Brewers first-base coach Garth Iorg said he was eager to work with new Brewers prospect Nicky Delmonico, a third baseman acquired from Baltimore in the K-Rod trade. Iorg saw Delmonico play in high school, and Iorg's middle son played at the University of Tennessee for Delmonico's father, Rod.
"I'm excited to get him," Iorg said. "He's got a nice swing."
• Outfielder and 2013 10th-round Draft pick Michael Ratterree is red hot for Rookie-level Helena. With two more hits Wednesday, he was batting .414 (25-for-60) during a 14-game hitting streak, with seven doubles, four triples, three homers and a whopping 24 RBIs in that span.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.