Gindl more comfortable this year bouncing between Brewers, Triple-A
Caleb Gindl would love to stay on the major league roster all season, but he knows his current role is as an outfield call-up to fill in for the Milwaukee Brewers when he's needed.
Last season, outfielder Caleb Gindl played in 57 games for the Brewers and hit .242 with five home runs and 14 RBI.
Jeff Hanisch / USA TODAY Sports
By Andrew Gruman
MILWAUKEE -- Caleb Gindl saw the writing on the wall during spring training.
With four outfielders ahead of him on the depth chart, Gindl knew his season was most likely going to begin in Triple-A.
"I don't think out of spring I was upset by not making the team," Gindl said. "I kind of had an idea of what was going to happen. I just went to Triple-A and told myself, 'When the time for them to call on me comes, I need to be ready.'
"I happened to get hot at the right time, started swinging the bat and was ready when they needed me."
Gindl's opportunity came last Friday when he was called up to aid the Brewers' shorthanded outfield with Ryan Braun out with an oblique injury. While waiting for his chance to return to the big leagues, Gindl had gotten off to a bit of a slow start at Triple-A and was hitting just .191 on April 18.
He eventually rebounded to raise his batting average to .284, but the Brewers may have considered bringing up Gindl earlier if he wasn't scuffling.
"I got off to a slow start and for a minute when things were kind of happening I was like, 'Man, I'm off to such a slow start. It's going to be hard for them to call me up if they need me,'" Gindl said. "Then it started to turn around.
"I think our first eight games were against left-handed starters. As a lefty, I hit lefties fine, but early in the season sometimes my swing is not quite where I want it. In spring you see lefties, but you don't see the breaking balls. When you face eight of them in a row it kind of puts you in a hole if your swing is not perfect. It kind of did that for me."
A similar situation brought Gindl to the big leagues for the first time in 2013, as injuries and Braun's suspension opened the door for the 25-year-old to play 57 games with the Brewers. He hit .242 with five home runs and 14 RBI, making 30 starts in left field and four starts in right field.
With all of the "firsts" out of the way, Gindl is much more comfortable as far as knowing what to expect when playing at the highest level.
"It's a little different," Gindl said of his second year in the big leagues. "I remember last year having that nervous feeling, not knowing what to expect. Those kind of go away a little bit.
"There's some pressure. You want to keep winning, you want to keep doing good and piling on the wins. As far as being different, I'd just say the nervousness and the butterflies all go away."
Gindl has started Milwaukee's last four games in right field, collecting just one hit in his first 13 at-bats. With Braun on the disabled list, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is hoping either Gindl or Logan Schafer gets hot and earns the majority of the at-bats while the other becomes the fourth outfielder.
Both are left-handed hitters, meaning the pitching matchup is unlikely to favor one over the other. Schafer is the better defensive option, but he's hitting just .182 in 36 plate appearances this season.
"The perfect situation is one of them gets hot and stays out there," Roenicke said. "Then you can spell the other guys when you need to. If 'Gomey' needs a day somewhere, when Khris (Davis) needs a day, it would be nice to get somebody out there for him. It allows you to move guys around a little bit and give guys days off when they need him."
With Braun eligible to come off the disabled list Monday, Gindl's time with the big-league club will likely end soon. Being called up and sent down is nothing new to him, as he was optioned back to Triple-A twice and recalled three times in 2013.
"I think last year helped the mental side of it," Gindl said. "When you get sent down from here and just going back down and looking at it as a positive. Just keep your swing, stay in your routine and be ready. I think last year helped with that, being sent down and brought back up, sent down and brought back up."