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Notes: Braun making top rookie case
07/07/2007 8:50 PM ET
WASHINGTON -- Brewers onetime catcher and current TV analyst Bill Schroeder watched what could be his only club record pushed aside Friday night.

The pusher was third baseman Ryan Braun, who with his ninth and 10th home runs in his 38th Major League game became the fastest Brewers player to reach double digits. The previous franchise recordholder was Schroeder, who needed only 61 games to reach 10 homers from 1983-84.

"It's a record I was sorry to see broken," Schroeder cracked. "Especially because I didn't know I had it."

Said manager Ned Yost: "I'd like to see the next kid who's going to break that."

Braun quickly padded his total, homering to the second deck in left field at RFK Stadium on Saturday night. It was his second two-out first-inning solo home run in as many nights.

The 23-year-old entered Saturday's game batting .342 overall with 31 RBIs and eight stolen bases, and was hitting .400 over his last 17 games. Despite not playing his first Major League game until May 25, he ranked third among National League rookies with 17 multi-hit games and fourth in home runs and RBIs. He led NL rookies with a .382 on-base percentage and .645 slugging percentage and ranked second in batting average to Houston's Hunter Pence, who leads Braun in most categories but had a month-long head start.

Which begged the question, has any Brewers rookie ever made such an immediate impact?

"Cal Eldred comes to mind, but that was on the mound," said Schroeder, referring to the right-handed pitcher and fourth-place finisher in 1992 American League Rookie of the Year balloting. But Eldred pitched three games the previous season.

Milwaukee's only Rookie of the Year winner was Pat Listach in 1992, and he batted better than .300 over his first 40 games. In 2001, right-hander Ben Sheets won 10 games in the first half and made the All-Star team.

"But I don't remember seeing anybody else getting off to a start like this kid," Schroeder said of Braun. "And it's the way he's done it. With the [11] home runs, you would think he's either hitting a home run or punching out. He's not like that. He's hitting the ball all over the place.

"There's no reason to say he can't continue. I'm not saying he's going to hit .340, but he's hitting the ball all over the ballpark."

Staying focused: Braun's take on all of the early Rookie of the Year buzz?

"I really don't even worry about it," he said. "I don't feel like I'm competing against every other rookie. I feel like I'm competing with every other good player in the league. So I don't look at it."

He did say that batting third has helped, both because it was his natural spot in the Minor Leagues and because he has been slotted between All-Stars J.J. Hardy and Prince Fielder.

None of the sudden success has seemed to faze Braun.

"I always expect to be successful. I'm confident in my abilities," Braun said. "But I really didn't come up with any statistical goals. I wanted to stay healthy, work hard every day, try to make adjustments as quickly as possible. I know as long as I do that, I'll always have success."

Homer happy: Braun's home run extended the team's streak of games with a home run to 16, its longest since June 1996 when the team homered in 19 straight. The Brewers have homered in 73 of their 87 games this season.

Entering Saturday's schedule, only Cincinnati (125) had hit more home runs this year than Milwaukee (120). And only Cincinnati scored more of its runs via the long ball (194 of 409, 47.4 percent) than Milwaukee (196 of 424, 46.2 percent).

More work? Yost said he expects left-handed reliever Brian Shouse to have a heavier workload after the All-Star break. Shouse had 34 appearances through Friday, and had covered 20 2/3 innings. Yost often uses the sidearming Shouse as a specialist for one or two left-handed hitters.

"In the second half, he's going to have to be a little more than that to balance our 'pen out," Yost said. "We just can't keep using [Carlos] Villanueva every other night, and [Matt] Wise. We're going to have to find ways to balance it out with [Chris] Spurling or Shouse down there."

If that is the plan, it sets up well. Through Friday, Shouse had identical success against left-handed and right-handed hitters (9-for-28, .237 average against).

"He's a guy that's real deceptive," Yost said. "He throws from down under and his ball has real good sink on it. Righties have a hard time hitting him, too."

Gwynn in: As promised, Yost slotted center fielder Tony Gwynn Jr. into the lineup Saturday, a day after Gwynn was recalled from Triple-A Nashville. It was an easy decision to bat him seventh, Yost said.

"I'm not moving the one, two, three or four guys," Yost said. "I don't think [Gwynn] is a candidate to hit fifth or sixth. I like Rickie [Weeks] in that eight-hole a little bit."

Speaking of Weeks, the second baseman entered Saturday hitless in his last 14 at-bats and in larger slumps of 1-for-25 and 2-for-35. Those numbers are deceiving, the manager insisted.

"He's got zero luck right now," Yost said. "He cannot find a hole. I thought Rickie had good at-bats [Friday] night, he's just got nothing to show for it."

Killing time: We already knew that Yost is an avid NASCAR enthusiast and that he spends much of the offseason hunting. Now we can add the space program to his list of off-field interests.

Killing time Saturday afternoon using the new Apple iBook he picked up in Spring Training, Yost scanned the spectacular photo galleries available at the NASA Web site (http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/home/index.html).

"[I'm] just curious," he said after browsing photos from the international space station. "I'm just waiting for NASA to call and ask if I want to go. I want to be ready."

On deck: Left-hander Chris Capuano, who lasted only 3 1/3 innings in Pittsburgh on Monday in his return from the disabled list, will close out the first half for the Brewers on Sunday. The Nationals are scheduled to start right-hander Tim Redding in the 12:35 p.m. CT game at RFK Stadium.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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