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MIL@ATL: Greinke fans six in his Brewers debut

ST. LOUIS -- It won't reach the level of the 2008 "CC Surge," but the Brewers are expecting at least 10,000 extra fans in the seats for Zack Greinke's Miller Park debut on Monday night.

Greinke made his Brewers debut on Wednesday in Atlanta, the same day the club ran a full-page ad in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel hyping his home debut five days later. The first 30,000 fans will get white rally towels commemorating Greinke's first Miller Park start.

"I think at the end of the day, we'll be at about 30,000 [in attendance]," Brewers chief operating officer Rick Schlesinger said. "I'm still looking to get higher than that, but I think given the recent play, 30,000 is a number I would be pleased with if we get to it."

In his home debut, Greinke will face Mat Latos and the Padres.

After breaking a nine-game losing streak, dating back to last season, with a no-decision against the Pirates his last time out, Latos is looking to take the next step -- into the win column.

Latos (0-4, 4.55 ERA) allowed two earned runs over six innings in that start against Pittsburgh in what was just his second quality start of the season.

The recent play has not been very good for the Padres and Brewers, who are each 14-20 on the season. The Brewers are coming off a tough three-city road trip that included a seven-game losing streak and a deep offensive funk.

It was a different situation in July 2008, when the Brewers were 49-39, had won five of their last six games and swung a trade with the Indians for CC Sabathia, the sensational left-hander who would carry Milwaukee to its first postseason appearance in 26 years. News of that blockbuster broke Sunday night, and Sabathia made his Brewers debut on Tuesday in front of a sellout crowd. The team sold more than 10,000 tickets within 36 hours of announcing the trade.

Greinke, on the other hand, was acquired in an offseason trade with the Royals. He inspired a bump in winter sales, but his Milwaukee debut was delayed until last week by a rib-cage injury he suffered playing pickup basketball in February.

"The difference with CC was it was an immediate impact game," Schlesinger said. "There was a huge amount of buzz immediately, and people forget that we were playing pretty well. There was an energy.

"Zack's was obviously an offseason trade, he's already made his start on the road and we're not playing well. That makes a difference in ticket sales. There's still some energy, but it's a little hard to expect that we would see a CC type of impact, given the timing and other factors."

Schlesinger has been pleased with the Brewers' overall sales. The team announced during its last homestand it had already reached the two-million mark, two days ahead of its pace the previous season.

Greinke should help sales going forward, Schlesinger believes.

"Most people say the starting pitcher generally doesn't impact ticket sales unless it's a Fernando Valenzuela or like a CC coming in," Schlesinger said. "I think Greinke has the ability to generate that type of excitement. If we get playing better and he starts becoming Zack Greinke, I do think we'll market it and promote his starts, and I think we'll see the ticket sales go up."

Greinke did not exactly look like the 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner in his Milwaukee debut on Wednesday in Atlanta. He was hurt by a pair of first-inning defensive miscues and gave up five runs (four earned) on five hits in four innings. He threw 85 pitches and should be clear to top the 100-pitch mark on Monday night.

"It's in the long haul that Greinke is going to help us," manager Ron Roenicke said. "Right when he came back, I would have been surprised if he had been just locked in. He's got good stuff, he's a great competitor, but he needs to build up arm strength and command. That may take three to four outings or maybe it's the next one. I hope it is, but it may take awhile."

The rally-towel promotion had been in the works for weeks, Schlesinger said, though many of Greinke's teammates did not know about it.

When told that the team was planning some extra activities to mark his debut, fellow starter Randy Wolf wondered about a different idea.

"Is the whole crowd going to shave their heads?" Wolf asked.

Greinke buzzed his long hair last week before his Brewers start. With the long locks gone, Greinke will look more like the pitcher Padres utility man Eric Patterson faced as a member of the A's and Red Sox. Patterson is 1-for-6 lifetime against Greinke with one double, one walk and four strikeouts.

"First off, he's got a great arm, but it's more than that," Patterson said. "He's able to attack you with his fastball and is able to throw to all parts of the plate, up and down, side to side. This isn't just a guy with a good arm."

Brewers fans are about to get their first look.

Padres: Home not-so-sweet home
The Padres have a reason to look forward to their nine-day, eight-game road trip that begins with Monday's series opener against the Brewers.

San Diego has struggled at home this season, sporting a 7-14 record at PETCO Park, but the Padres are 7-6 on the road.

Brewers: Braun, Fielder trying to break slumps
After red-hot Aprils, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder have slumped in May.

Each player went 4-for-32 in their first eight games of the month, a key factor in the Brewers' 1-7 mark during that stretch.

Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said that he has witnessed good at-bats by both players in recent days, leaving him to believe their respective slumps will be short-lived.

Worth noting
Saturday's 6-0 loss to the D-backs marked the eighth time this season the Padres have been shut out. ... Fielder's next home run will be the 200th of his career. Comments