6/25/2014 3:05 A.M. ET
Amid slump, Braun swinging away
By Adam McCalvy and Caitlin Swieca / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- At some point he may not be given a choice, but for now slumping Brewers slugger Ryan Braun prefers to play his way out of a slump.
Braun went 2-for-6 with a pair of singles and two RBIs Tuesday in a 4-2, 16-inning loss to the Nationals. He continued to decline offers to take a day off amid a funk that saw him start the day with a .193/.250./.307 slash line in his last 20 games. It did not surprise Brewers manager Ron Roenicke to hear that Braun is not only swinging at more pitches outside the strike zone (a career-high 39.5 percent entering the night, according to Pitch F/X data -- more than five percentage points higher than his career rate, and more than nine points higher than his National League MVP season in 2011) but was swinging at more pitches, period.
His overall swing rate of 52.6 percent is headed for a career high, and marks the first time since Braun's first full season in 2008 that he is over 50 percent. In 2011, with Prince Fielder looming in the on-deck circle, Braun swung at 44 percent of pitches.
At the same time, opponents are challenging Braun with strikes at about the same rate. Entering Tuesday, 46.2 percent of pitches thrown Braun's way were strikes, about one percentage point below his career average.
"I think whenever you're in a little funk, you want to swing more, because you know you have to swing to get out of it," Roenicke said. "If you just go up there and take pitches, yes, it helps to track balls and to see balls, but until you start squaring up a lot of balls swinging, you can't get out of it. So I think the thought in general is, when you're struggling, most guys probably do swing more."
A small sample of at-bats against Tuesday night Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann (1-for-6, three strikeouts) might have given Braun a reason to take a night off, but he made a case to play.
Roenicke is seeking more consistency from a player he usually doesn't have to worry about.
"The consistent part of it is something you usually can count on, and it hasn't been there," Roenicke said. "You see one game and you think, 'OK,' and then the next day he'll be bad. So, somehow we've got to get him locked in more. Some of it's just trying to do too much because of what he's usually capable of doing.
"I actually think the new position, going to right field, I actually thought it was going to help him, just because when you change like that, your mind can be on that more often. Hopefully, we'll get him going."
Gomez greets fans during All-Star push
MILWAUKEE -- Carlos Gomez says he isn't focused on All-Star Game balloting, but he took a few moments this week to do a little campaigning on the Miller Park concourse.
Gomez greeted fans and posed for pictures before the start of the team's current homestand, including a stop on the main concourse where the Brewers have set up tablets for fans to cast All-Star Game ballots via MLB.com.
Shortly thereafter, Major League Baseball released an updated round of balloting results with Gomez ranked third among National League outfielders. The top three vote-getters form the starting outfield.
"I just continue to do my job, and if I'm going to start or make it to the All-Star [Game], my job is going to take me there," Gomez said. "It's not like I've been thinking or expect. Just keep doing my job, and if I do the right job, I'm going to be there."
Gomez was a first-time All-Star last season. This year's game is in Minneapolis, where Gomez played two seasons with the Twins.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15.
Fans may submit up to 25 online ballots, but they can also earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, register on the site in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.
Lopez to represent Crew in Futures Game
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers prospect Jorge Lopez on Tuesday was named to the World roster for the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. On July 13, he'll get a taste of the Major Leagues, and Milwaukee fans will get a glimpse of the future.
Lopez, a 21-year-old right-hander from Puerto Rico, has a 7-3 record and 3.00 ERA in 13 starts this season for the Class A Advanced Brevard County Manatees, and he's the lone Milwaukee representative in this year's game, which will be held at Target Field in Minneapolis. The Brewers selected Lopez with the 70th overall pick of the 2011 Draft, making him the second-highest-drafted pitcher from Puerto Rico at the time.
He was rated as the No. 19 prospect in the Brewers' system by MLB.com before the season started, and though he took a step back when he began his pro career, the team's front office is happy with what it's seen this year.
"Lopez has made a lot of progress," Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash said. "He's got a good fastball, very good command. He's a very good competitor, and the last year he's really come on."
In terms of fastball velocity, the closest comparable on the Brewers' staff may be Yovani Gallardo, who pitched a scoreless inning in the 2006 Futures Game.
Other current Brewers who have participated in the event include Ryan Braun, Matt Garza, Scooter Gennett, Tom Gorzelanny, Lyle Overbay, Francisco Rodriguez, Jean Segura, Tyler Thornburg and Rickie Weeks.
"It's certainly a privilege to play in it," Ash said. "It's a good idea that they brought it to fruition  years ago. A lot of scouts attend. That's where we saw Segura and [Ariel] Pena for instance [before the Brewers acquired those players from the Angels in the Zack Greinke trade in 2012]. It's a good reward, and it probably heightens a player's profile."
One player who can attest to that is Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who played in the inaugural Futures Game in Boston in 1999. Ramirez said he went 0-for-1 with a walk but had a great experience playing at Fenway Park.
"Its fun. You're out there with all the best prospects in the game," Ramirez said. "It's fun any time you have the opportunity to do that."
The 16th annual SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game will take place at 4 p.m. CT on Sunday, July 13, at Target Field in Minneapolis, and it can be seen live on MLB.com and MLB Network, and followed live on MLB.com's Gameday. In addition, XM Radio will broadcast play-by-play coverage of the event live on MLB Network Radio XM 89 and Sirius channel 209. MLB.com will also provide complete coverage before, during and after the game.
Fans can stay updated by following @MLBFutures on Twitter and can send and receive tweets to and from the U.S. and World Team dugouts during the game by tagging tweets with the hashtags #USDugout and #WorldDugout.
Major League Baseball, in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, MLB.com, Baseball America and the 30 Major League clubs, selected the 25 players currently on each team.
Each Major League organization is represented, and players from all full-season Minor Leagues were eligible to participate. Complete Futures Game rosters, prospect analysis and rankings can be found at mlb.com/pipeline.
• Players held a brief clubhouse meeting Thursday afternoon to confirm reliever Rob Wooten as the Brewers' representative to the Major League Baseball Players Association. Fellow reliever Will Smith and center fielder Gomez were elected alternates, with Gomez acting as a liaison with Latin American players.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Caitlin Swieca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.