8/13/2014 8:28 P.M. ET
Smith slower, but steadier, since adjustment
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- A mechanical adjustment is behind a recent resurgence for Brewers left-hander Will Smith, who was willing to sacrifice a tick of velocity for a bump of command.
Pitching coach Rick Kranitz noticed that Smith was over-rotating during his delivery, which added zip to Smith's fastball, but was altering his release point and creating more pitches up in the strike zone. Smith worked on an adjustment during last week's Brewers-Giants series at Miller Park.
"Now I'm picking my leg up straight up and putting it back down like I was at the beginning of the season," Smith said. "That stuff happens during the course of a season. I don't know why I did it; it felt comfortable to me, but I was getting hit around pretty good. I had to press the reset button."
In his first 28 appearances through the end of May, Smith pitched to a 0.36 ERA and held opponents to a .200 average. In 27 appearances during June and July, his ERA was 7.43 with a .315 opponents' average.
In August, "He looks more aggressive," manager Ron Roenicke said, "and he's commanding the ball a lot better."
Pitchers make adjustments all the time, but Smith is used to having more time to execute such changes because he has primarily been a starter in his Minor League career.
He's learning that in the bullpen, things are different.
"You have to learn on the fly," Smith said. "Sometimes you work on something that day and you're taking it into a game that night. You're not supposed to worry on the mound about mechanics. You're just trying to get guys out. But this one was real simple; nothing too crazy. We knocked it out in one day, and now I feel back to normal."
Gomez takes hands-on approach to protection
MILWAUKEE -- By Carlos Gomez's own count, nine of the Major League-leading 13 times he'd been hit by a pitch entering Wednesday, he was hit on the hands or wrists.
After being struck the night before on the right wrist, near the base of his thumb, Gomez wore a sleeve embedded with a protective plate into Wednesday's game against the Cubs.
"I've gotten lucky so far," Gomez said.
The free-swinging leadoff hitter also wears a protective guard on his left elbow, but his hands and wrists are often exposed because opposing pitchers pound him inside, and Gomez often begins to offer before recognizing the location and trying to get out of the way.
Given Gomez's importance to the Brewers' offense -- he ranks fourth in the National League in wins above replacement by Fangraphs' measure -- manager Ron Roenicke expressed some concern.
"If he stops trying to hit that pitch that far inside," Roenicke said, "they'll stop throwing it. You see [Arizona's Paul] Goldschmidt; you get hit in the right spot, something's going to break."
Goldschmidt is out for the season with a fractured left hand sustained on a hit by pitch against the Pirates on Aug. 1.
Entering Thursday, Brewers hitters had been plunked 53 times, third-most in the Major Leagues. Brewers pitchers had struck 32 batters, tied for fifth-fewest in the Majors.
Bianchi gets second opinion on elbow
CHICAGO -- Injured Brewers infielder Jeff Bianchi remains in rehab mode after a second opinion on his right elbow did not yield a new diagnosis, manager Ron Roenicke said Wednesday.
Bianchi has been sidelined since July 18 with a strained right elbow. He underwent Tommy John surgery on the same elbow in Spring Training in 2010 and missed that entire season, but his current issue is not necessarily related, according to Roenicke.
"He's in Arizona and had a second opinion; they said it was basically what we thought [in] the first opinion," Roenicke said. "He's been taking ground balls there. It still is a little bit ... I don't want to use the word 'sore,' because they said 'achy.'
"I don't know exactly what that means, but it's still there a little bit, and that's why they wanted a second opinion, because it's not coming along like they thought he would. They said they're going to start pushing things for him. The history with the elbow seems to be fine."
Schroeder to remain sidelined during road trip
CHICAGO -- The Brewers have shuffled their broadcast roster for their weekend series in Los Angeles while television analyst Bill Schroeder continues to recover from an infection in his surgically-repaired right index finger.
Special assistant to the GM Craig Counsell, originally scheduled to fill-in for Bob Uecker in the radio booth, will instead provide color commentary for Fox Sports Wisconsin. Assistant GM Gord Ash will team with play-by-play man Joe Block on radio.
Uecker was previously scheduled to skip the series at Dodger Stadium as part of his curtailed schedule this season.
• Smith circled the clubhouse on Wednesday afternoon to shake hands with cohorts Zach Duke, Tom Gorzelanny, Lyle Overbay and Gerardo Parra on International Left-handers Day. The most valuable southpaws in Brewers history, by Baseball-Reference's measure of WAR, are starting pitcher Teddy Higuera (30.6 bWAR) and first baseman Cecil Cooper (30.5 bWAR).