MILWAUKEE — For the first time in a month, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke had an easy decision as to who to put in the cleanup spot while filling out his lineup card.
Exactly four weeks after spraining his left knee, third baseman Aramis Ramirez is back in his usual spot in the batting order for Friday’s game against St. Louis.
With Ramirez hitting cleanup, Rickie Weeks stays in the fifth spot of the lineup, while Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez and Yuniesky Betancourt fill spot six through eight.
“It’s a good lineup,” Roenicke said. “When you have Luc, Gomey and Betancourt (hitting) six, seven and eight, that’s pretty good.”
What to expect from Ramirez is unknown. He told the Brewers early in the process he wasn’t going to go on a rehab assignment, meaning his first at-bat Friday will be the first live pitching he’s seen in a month.
“I’ve been around for a while and I know what I have to do to be ready,” Ramirez said. “I prepared myself to not (have) to go on a rehab assignment. We’ll see how it goes.
“Nothing is the same as live action. You don’t know how things are going to work out until you step up to the plate.”
While Roenicke has made clear he doesn’t plan on playing Ramirez for the full nine innings right away, Ramirez may fight his manager if the game is close.
“We’ve talked about it but we’ll see how the games go,” Ramirez said. “I don’t really feel comfortable leaving the game if the game is close. In a close game it is going to be tough for me to leave the game, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I want to see how the games go and how my knee feels and I’ll go from there.”
Though he may get pushback, Roenicke is going to do what’s best for the longterm instead of playing to potentially win one game.
“That’s not that tough of a call for me,” Roenicke said of pulling Ramirez early. “If I think it’s time for him to come out, I think he needs to come out.”
Ramirez’s knee isn’t 100 percent, but he feels healthy enough to get back on the field. It’s an injury that’s going to have to be monitored by both player and manager for the rest of the season.
“For me to be 100 percent, I’d have to sit for two or three months and that’s not going to happen,” Ramirez said. “It’s just something I have to deal with for the rest of the season. I’m good enough to be out there.”
Both in spring training and on April 6, Ramirez sprained his knee while sliding into second base. He’s being encouraged to only slide when needed, but that’s easier said than done, especially in the heat of the game.
“You can’t think about it. I’m going to play the game the way I always play the game,” Ramirez said. “If I have to slide, I have to slide. There’s going to come a moment where I have to slide and hopefully everything will work out.”
Burgos bumped: Because of off days Monday and Thursday next week, the Brewers will bump fifth starter Hiram Burgos off of his regular turn in the rotation.
Instead of Burgos starting the opener of the two-game series against Texas on Tuesday, Wily Peralta will pitch on his usual rest, while Kyle Lohse will pitch against the Rangers on Wednesday.
“If we don’t slide somebody back, we have Lohse and Gallardo going on seven days,” Roenicke said. “We don’t want to do that. I don’t mind bumping all of them one day, but if you do it two days it starts affecting the starters.”
Burgos will be available to pitch out of the bullpen against Texas, while his next start will be determined based off when Roenicke feels is the best time to slot him back in.
One-time deal: The Brewers will sport a different hat for Friday’s game against the Cardinals, but don’t get used to it.
Milwaukee will wear its retro batting practice hats with the yellow face that features the old ball and glove logo Friday, as Major League Baseball allows teams to wear the alternate batting practice hats for one game during the season. Friday is one of the dates the Brewers have scheduled to wear the throwback uniforms, making the hat an easy fit.
The Brewers usually wear the yellow-faced hats for batting practice on throwback games, but switch to a solid blue hat with the ball and glove logo for the game.