5/31/2014 8:22 P.M. ET
If bats cool, Brewers may slot pitcher eighth
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- With Ryan Braun having success since a move up to the two-hole, Brewers coaches have been debating batting the pitcher eighth, and manager Ron Roenicke left open the possibility of giving it a try if the offense cools from its current red-hot state.
"It has been discussed for the past four or five days, [and] there is merit to it," Roenicke said. "It depends on your personnel, really on who is hitting first and second for you and who is going to hit ninth, and it's important who is hitting seventh.
"If you have all the right pieces, it makes a ton of sense. If you have an on-base guy [seventh] so you can get through the pitcher eighth, and you have a ninth hitter who is an on-base guy to get on base for what would have to be strong 1-2-3 hitters, it makes a ton of sense. That's kind of what we have."
Or rather, it's what the Brewers will have when third baseman Aramis Ramirez returns from the disabled list, which could happen as early as Tuesday.
Ramirez's return could allow Roenicke to re-install Carlos Gomez to the leadoff spot, with Braun second and catcher Jonathan Lucroy third. First basemen Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay would be the likely candidates for the seven-hole, and second basemen Scooter Gennett and Rickie Weeks could hit ninth, theoretically getting on base to give Gomez and Braun more opportunities to drive in runs.
Roenicke was clear that he would not disrupt the Brewers' current hot streak. The team entered Saturday with at least 10 hits in nine consecutive games, matching a franchise record.
"The personnel dictates what happens," Roenicke said. "I was telling them in Anaheim in 2000, when [Darin] Erstad … drove in 100 runs from the leadoff spot, we had Orlando Palmeiro, who was a really good on-base guy. And we hit him ninth. He probably should have hit up farther than that, but we hit him ninth, trying to get guys on for Erstad."
Former Brewers manager Ned Yost batted his pitchers eighth for part of 2008, when catcher Jason Kendall hit ninth. Yost eventually dropped the idea.
Asked to guess the odds he would try it when Ramirez returns, Roenicke said: "I don't know. We have to discuss it more and figure out what we're doing with Gomez, figure out what we're doing with [Jean] Segura. And not just while we're hot here, because while we're hot I'll [continue] doing it this way [with Segura leading off and Gomez hitting cleanup]. We're talking about where we see it in a month from now. If it makes sense, we'll try it."
Braun, for his part, has adjusted nicely to batting second.
"I like it. It's good," Braun said. "I don't think you change anything now; we're swinging the bats so well. Since we've gone with this alignment in the lineup, we've been really successful, and there's no reason to change anything.
"It's the same thing. Obviously, I have a few less RBI opportunities unless we eventually go to the pitcher eight and somebody else ninth, which we've discussed, too. We'll see. The more at-bats you get for your best hitters, the better off you'll be over the course of a season. For me, it's just about creating runs, whether I'm on base to score the runs or able to drive guys in."
Wang has rare chances to build confidence
MILWAUKEE -- Seldom-used Brewers reliever Wei-Chung Wang knows he has the support of his teammates. On Friday night, he could hear it from the dugout.
With some help from translator Jay Hsu, Brewers starters Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza were calling out "Let's go!" in Chinese as Wang took the mound to work a scoreless eighth inning.
"They yelled very loud. I heard everything," Wang said Saturday morning. "It had been so long since I pitched, I felt their support."
Wang, a Rule 5 pick whom the Brewers hope to get through the season so they can add him to the organization's stable of starting pitching prospects next year, worked around a leadoff double in a scoreless inning against the Cubs on Friday, then pitched two more innings Saturday for the first back-to-back outings of his Major League career.
He was an out away from consecutive scoreless appearances when Cubs pinch-hitter Justin Ruggiano tripled past a diving Ryan Braun in the ninth inning and scored on an Emilio Bonifacio single. Wang recovered to finish the inning with no more damage.
"First inning, really good, efficient with his pitches, throwing strikes," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Mixed up some breaking balls in there, so I thought that was good. Next inning, Ruggiano got one ball down the line, but besides that, I thought he threw the ball really well."
The Brewers hope the work provides a confidence boost.
"Like we talked about, we need this guy to pick up innings for us, and we need him confident to where he can pick up innings," Roenicke said.
The Brewers staged a simulated game for Wang on Wednesday to help him cover his latest layoff from pitching. Rehabbing third baseman Aramis Ramirez served as the hitter.
"In the simulated game, for 'Rami' to stand in there was totally different from just a bullpen," Wang said, with Hsu translating. "I felt better, more like a real game. It's helpful. I could really use my changeup and curveball."
Rehabbing Gorzelanny still seeking old velocity
MILWAUKEE -- More than halfway through his month-long Minor League rehabilitation assignment, Brewers left-hander Tom Gorzelanny is still working to rediscover his usual velocity, manager Ron Roenicke said Saturday.
Gorzelanny began a 30-day rehab on May 14 and is pitching at Triple-A Nashville. In 10 Minor League innings, Gorzelanny has surrendered only two earned runs, but Roenicke said: "With him, I heard velocities again yesterday, and he's still not where he needs to be. It's velocity, command. They kind of go hand in hand. He's not where he needs to be."
Gorzelanny had surgery in early December to repair tears to his labrum and rotator cuff. He had originally hoped to be ready shortly after Opening Day.
What if his velocity does not return before June 12, the final day of his rehab assignment?
"Those are tough decisions," Roenicke said. "That's why I want to make sure he's ready when he comes here."