MILWAUKEE — With 31 games and 114 at-bats under his belt, Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks is still trying to get going.
And while the Brewers are going to continue to stay patient with the former All-Star, manager Ron Roenicke dropped Weeks from fifth to seventh in the lineup for Wednesday’s game against Texas.
“It wasn’t really a conversation,” Roenicke said. “I just told him what I was going to do and that was it.”
Hitting .193 with two home runs and nine RBI, Weeks is scuffling early for the second straight season. There comes a point when a player’s struggles is more than just a slow start, but Roenicke isn’t sure if Weeks is at that point just yet.
“I think it depends on who the player is,” Roenicke said. “Aramis (Ramirez) got off to a slow start last year and I don’t remember how long that was. I think where you are in the lineup, what your history is, we knew Aramis was going to hit, so I think you stick with a guy longer who you know has the history of doing well. I think you stick with those guys a little longer.
“The young guys you don’t stick with as long just because you don’t have a track record on them. Are they going to come out of it or is this what we are going to get out of him?”
Where does Weeks fit into that line of reasoning? He certainly isn’t young and does have a track record in the big leagues, meaning the Brewers aren’t going to pull the plug on him. Their goal remains to find a way to get him going.
“Rick has always hit and I think Rick will hit,” Roenicke said. “I started him at second, moved him to fourth and then to fifth. Somewhere in there, there has to be production for the team and more importantly in the long run, how do we get him swinging?
“He’s going to hit. He shows that he hits every year. I know last year he had a tough first half and a good second half, but his history is that he’s going to hit. It’s just how to get him started in that direction as soon as we can.”
Some players react well to a day off to clear their head and come back fresh, while others view an off day as more time to let frustrations take over. Weeks certainly fits into the latter.
“When he’s sitting on the bench, he’s not a guy that’s like ‘Man, I’m glad to have a night off’. That’s not him,” Roenicke said. “He’s thinking ‘If I was in there right now maybe I would get it going’. That’s where you have to know the personalities. Not that I’m always going to be right in what I do, thinking of him and his personality, that’s what I’m thinking right now. That may change in a couple of days. I may see something else and decide to give him a day.”
Change isn’t always better: Maybe it will just take some time to get used to, but the early returns on the new format of Interleague play haven’t been positive.
With the Houston Astros now in the American League, the balance of 15 teams in each league allows Interleague games to be played on a daily basis rather than set times throughout the season.
The Brewers are currently discovering a few of the oddities of the new schedule as they are playing the first leg of a split four-game season series with Texas. The Brewers will visit the Rangers for another two-game series in August.
Maybe the strangest part of Milwaukee’s schedule comes in late-May when the Brewers play a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins with the first two games played at Miller Park before heading north to finish the series at Target Field.
“It was nice to have a three or four week time when you prepared for Interleague,” Roenicke said. “If you were going to be playing at American League teams you may bring a guy up to be your DH for those games. You really prepared differently. Now you really can’t because you have two here and it’s not going to be for awhile. It’s really weird trying to figure out how to do something when there’s really no pattern.”
The lack of a DH is obviously not an issue when the Brewers are playing at home, but they are at a disadvantage when they travel to Minnesota and Texas. With the old format, the Brewers often used to bring up players just to DH for the series.
On the other side of things, American League teams like the Rangers often have to sit one of their better bats in a National League park because their DH’s are often times players like Lance Berkman – a liability in the field at this point in his career.
There has been some discussion around allowing teams to carry a 26th player for Interleague games, but American League teams wouldn’t have much use for an extra player.
“The National League is where you need more players,” Roenicke said. “You can have a four-man bench and be fine. In the National League, you need people.”
Many had to do a double-take on Opening Day when they saw the Reds and Angels squaring off, just because it’s different. The notion of an American League team facing a National League team to open the season – there also will be an Interleague series to conclude the season – is something everyone will have to get used to.
It’s widely believed a switch to one set of rules will eventually come, as some feel it’s only a matter of time before the National League will have a DH. Roenicke didn’t want to express his true opinion on the matter, but appreciates the strategy involved with the National League game.
“If they go to just one or the other it sounds like they would lean toward the DH,” Roenicke said. “Being in the National League when you enjoy the strategies of it, it makes me not want to go that way. I understand if you get a DH in there there’s more homers and the union likes it because you get one more big basher in the lineup. I enjoy the National League game.”