9/18/2013 9:38 P.M. ET
Brewers coaches, executives meet to evaluate squad
By Adam McCalvy and Kevin Massoth / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' state of the franchise meeting Wednesday turned into an all-day affair. Manager Ron Roenicke said he and his coaches took part from about 9 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. CT, but general manager Doug Melvin and his lieutenants and scouts continued on until the early evening in the Miller Park war room. The Brewers' entire 40-man roster was evaluated.
The biggest issue in 2013 has clearly been injuries for the Brewers, and to Roenicke, a healthy ballclub means more wins next season.
"I think just getting guys back healthy makes a huge difference," Roenicke said. "That's obviously what we need next year, just having our guys on the field. Also, we had some things with our pitching staff, our starting staff. We get rid of that bad May that we had, and our season wasn't so bad."
Without a 6-22 May, the Brewers would have entered Wednesday's meeting with the Cubs with a .500 record. Instead, they were in a battle to remain out of the National League Central basement, and there are several question marks heading into the offseason.
One of those is at first base, where the Brewers have started seven different players.
"There was definitely discussion on first base," Roenicke said. "Some on what we could do in-house, and what we'd have to do if we go outside."
Roenicke said one of the few positives to this season was the opportunity to evaluate some young prospects on the big league stage, including Sean Halton, who has received much of the playing time at first base since Juan Francisco has fallen out of favor.
"It's bad because key guys got hurt, it's bad because some guys may be up here sooner than they're ready; it's good because we get to see these young guys," Roenicke said. "I'm surprised by some of these guys. I'm surprised. We're winning a lot of ballgames, and we're winning against some good teams. When you miss all the guys that have gone down for us, I wasn't sure how we were going to do."
Braun returns to Milwaukee to visit charity
MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun was back in Milwaukee on Wednesday to reconnect with teammates and meet with the staff of at least one of the charities for which he had done work, though it was unclear whether the suspended slugger would have a visible presence at Miller Park during the Brewers' final homestand.
The Brewers have five home contests remaining, including Wednesday night's game against the Cubs. Major League rules allow Braun to visit the ballpark, providing he is off the field before gates open to the public.
"He just came in to visit," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He called me a while ago, and we talked. He wanted to come in, but he didn't want it to be a distraction. I told him it wouldn't be, so he came in. And I'm really glad he did. He looked good; I think all the guys were really happy to see him."
Braun did not formally address the team. "No, he wasn't here to do that," Roenicke said. "He was just in to say hi. He misses the game, and he misses the guys. So he wanted to come in and say hi."
On Wednesday afternoon, Braun delivered lunch and spoke to employees of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin. Last year, he served as the honorary chair of AIDS Walk Wisconsin, an event that raised $361,392 for HIV prevention, care and treatment services.
Braun has stayed mostly out of the public eye since accepting a season-ending suspension from MLB on July 22, but he has spent the past month issuing apologies for his transgressions. On Aug. 22, he issued a statement acknowledging taking banned substances to recover from a leg injury late in the 2011 season and vowing to "share the lessons I learned with others so they don't repeat my mistakes."
"Moving forward," Braun said then, "I want to be part of the solution and no longer part of the problem."
There were no indications Wednesday that Braun would participate in a long-awaited press conference to address some of the questions left unanswered in his written statement.
"For me, he doesn't need to," Roenicke said. "He's made a statement enough for me, and I think we just need to just kind of move on with this. If he decides to [say more], great. That's his decision, but for me, it doesn't need to happen. He's already said what happened, and what he needs to. That's fine with me, and I'm sure it's fine with most of the guys."
Gennett to increase work against lefties
MILWAUKEE -- Scooter Gennett was in the lineup Wednesday against Cubs left-hander Chris Rusin, and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said it was time to start exposing his young second baseman to left-handed pitchers.
"That's why we're doing it," Roenicke said before Wednesday's game. "He hasn't hit lefties real well so far, but he hasn't been out there, so you've got to get him in against these guys. When a guy comes out of the bullpen, he's usually a left-handed specialist, which makes it tougher on him. So I wanted to give him the opportunity to get whatever it's going to be, two, three, four at-bats."
Gennett entered Wednesday hitting .375 against right-handed pitchers and .077 (2-for-26) in limited duty against lefties. He went 0-for-2 Wednesday against Rusin, who lasted four innings. In 79 games at Triple-A Nashville before his promotion, Gennett hit a more balanced .298 against right-handers and .257 against left-handers.
Gennett will need that balance if he is to be the Brewers' everyday second baseman next season. The other option is Rickie Weeks, who has endured two straight subpar seasons and is out for the year after having surgery for a torn hamstring. Weeks will earn $11 million in 2014, the final year of his contract.
Roenicke said he anticipated Gennett playing every day the rest of this season, with the exception of maybe one off-day. He pointed to Gennett's sacrifice bunt in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Cubs as an example of the 23-year-old's youth.
Gennett fouled away two bunt attempts -- looking like he was trying to drag bunt for a hit -- before laying down a successful sacrifice.
"He's played really well," Roenicke said. "We've got to get better at some things, but he's impressed a lot of people. He's impressed me a lot. Like what he does out there on defense. And I knew he was a good hitter, but he really has been good."
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.