MILWAUKEE — With the Milwaukee Brewers struggling to get much production out of left field, manager Ron Roenicke said the team recently approached second baseman Rickie Weeks about the possibility of giving the outfield a try.
Weeks, who has strictly been starting against left-handed pitchers, declined and isn’t open to a change in position.
"I’m a second baseman," Weeks said Saturday when asked why he shot down the possibility. "I just feel like right now I should be playing second base."
Weeks has been Milwaukee’s starting second baseman for the majority of the last nine years but lost his job when Scooter Gennett broke out after Weeks suffered a season-ending hamstring injury in August.
Gennett has started each time the Brewers have faced a right-handed pitcher, meaning Weeks has rarely found himself in the starting lineup. The 31-year-old will be making his seventh start of the season Saturday when left-hander C.C. Sabathia starts for the New York Yankees.
Weeks started 3-for-25 at the plate but has been swinging the bat better of late, hitting .600 (6-for-10) in his last 13 plate appearances. With Khris Davis in a 3-for-29 slump at the plate entering Saturday and hitting just .216 on the season, the Brewers are in search of more offense in left field.
"It’s not that easy to just put somebody in the outfield," Roenicke said. "We did it so much last year, trying to switch guys all around in spring training, that we had a discussion with (general manager) Doug (Melvin) and we tried to not do that as much as we did the year before. We tried to keep guys in their position more so really we could get a better defensive job out of him at one position.
"It’s hard when you are moving guys everywhere and you expect them to be really good defensively. I think that’s what we ran into last year. We tried to stay away from it this year."
Knowing they had a problem on their hands with two second baseman on the roster, Brewers officials discussed trying Weeks in left field or at first base during spring training.
"We didn’t discuss it with him at that time," Roenicke said. "We have since then, and he does not want to do it."
Making $11 million in the final year of his contract, Weeks will likely continue to play sporadically if Gennett stays healthy and continues to produce. When asked if he would reconsider his decision down the road if it meant playing more he said, "Right now, I’m a second baseman."
The lack of offensive production out of left field has been one of the reasons why the Brewers have struggled to score runs. Davis hit .279 with 11 home runs and 27 RBI in 56 games last season, leading to Milwaukee trading Norichika Aoki and moving Ryan Braun to right field to clear a lineup spot.
Davis has four home runs in 32 games, but he’s struck out 38 times and has drawn just one walk. Reserve outfielders Logan Schafer (.214 batting average) and Caleb Gindl (2-for-16) have also struggled at the plate.
"We’ll have to figure out something," Roenicke said about left field. "We’ll have to do something.
"We’ve already had discussions on it. But there will be a point where we’ll need to make a move if things continue."
Braun update: In addition to taking batting practice on the field for the third time in four days, Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun was out doing defensive work prior to Saturday night’s game.
Braun is eligible to come off the disabled list for Tuesday’s series opener with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but Roenicke is hesitant to say his No. 3 hitter’s strained oblique will be ready to go early next week.
"He feels good," Roenicke said. "He swung a lot better today in BP. He’s still not probably there. We’re still hopeful for Tuesday, but I’m not sure.
"There’s a difference in feeling it and whether it is bothering him. That’s what we have to make sure. Maybe there’s a little bit of tightness but it is not really bothering him."