MILWAUKEE — Whether it was a coincidence or not, Rickie Weeks hit better when Scooter Gennett was up in the big leagues breathing down his neck.
The notion Gennett was putting pressure on Weeks may be overblown, but Brewers manager Ron Roenicke starting the veteran second baseman when the match-up favored him certainly helped.
With Weeks back in a slump and his batting average down to .211, Roenicke is going back to splitting playing time at second base based on favorable match-ups while Gennett is with the team.
“We’re going to do that for a while,” Roenicke said. “We’ll see what happens when ‘Yo’ gets back and when Estrada gets back to see if we stay with a five-man bench or go back to a four man. It’s nice to have five guys, hopefully we pitch well enough to continue to do that.”
While Gennett was up from June 1 until June 26, Weeks hit .435 with five home runs and nine RBI. He’s hit just .170 with two home runs and five RBI since.
Ramirez on the mend: Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez took batting practice again Friday, but there’s still no timetable in his return from the left knee injury that has him on the disabled list.
“It’s still hard to predict when he’ll be back but he’s getting closer to it,” Roenicke said. “He’s feeling better all the time. He’s anxious to get back into the lineup.”
Ramirez has yet to test the knee by running at full speed and that’s a hurdle he must clear before a potential return.
“It’s really about the pain,” Roenicke said. “The patella tendon is really what’s bothering him. The first step is trying to stop when he’s running. Any time you put a load on that tendon it’s sore, but that’s getting better all the time.”
Estrada moving forward: Brewers right-hander Marco Estrada had his rehab assignment shifted to Triple-A Nashville where he will make his second rehab start Friday.
On the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Estrada will throw around 50 pitches against Las Vegas after working 2 2/3 innings for Milwaukee’s rookie team in his first rehab start.
He’ll take the mound again for Nashville next Wednesday, and the Brewers will then decide if he’s ready to rejoin the big league club or if he needs another start in the minor leagues.
“We need to get him pitching well,” Roenicke said. “I don’t want to just bring him back here. We’ve filled in OK with the starters we have. We know Yo is going to be out for the the DL (stint), but I want (Marco) to pitch well before he comes back.
“I don’t want to put him out there if he’s not stretched out or he’s not throwing the ball well. He knows it’s important for him to finish out this season well.”
Minor league honors: Triple-A right-hander Johnny Hellweg and Double-A first baseman Jason Rogers were named Milwaukee’s minor league pitcher and player of the month for July.
Hellweg didn’t allow an earned run over 18 innings and three starts for Nashville in July, lowering his season ERA to 2.28.
The 25-year-old Rogers hit .338 with seven home runs and 20 RBI in 21 games for Double-A Huntsville in July.