Up-the-middle defenders hot at plate
Kendall, Hardy, Cameron, Weeks getting it done with bats
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' up-the-middle defenders all entered Saturday's game in the midst of offensive hot streaks.
Catcher Jason Kendall was 7-for-11 in three games on the current homestand. Shortstop J.J. Hardy was hitting .353 with three home runs and 10 RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak. Center fielder Mike Cameron was hitting .350 with six home runs and 12 RBIs over his past 17 games. And second baseman Rickie Weeks was hitting .281 with a .381 on-base percentage over his past 32 games.
All four players have endured their share of hot and cold streaks this season -- particularly Hardy, who has had droughts of 0-for-28 and 0-for-20 since the All-Star break.
"I wish I knew the why, because then I could fix it when I'm cold," Hardy said. "I have no idea. It's just a matter of seeing the ball, and right now I'm seeing it."
Hardy hit his 20th home run on Friday night, making him the third shortstop in Brewers history to post a pair of 20-homer seasons. Robin Yount and Jose Hernandez are the others.
Cameron, who came to the Brewers with a reputation as a streaky hitter, batted .173 in the 13 games before his current 17-game run of success. Part of Cameron's challenge was adjusting to new surroundings at Miller Park after missing the first 25 games of the season on a suspension.
He was punished by Major League Baseball after testing positive last season for a banned stimulant and did not play his first regular season game for the Brewers until April 29.
"The only difference for me now is that I'm a little more comfortable," Cameron said. "I've always been able to play. ... The only thing I do is take it easy a little bit, back off a little bit, and take a better swing on the ball. There's still going to be good days and bad days, no matter how good you feel."
Cameron has had to acclimate to hitting at Miller Park, where the shadows play a role in afternoon games and even in the early innings of some night games. On Saturday, much of the outfield was bathed in sunlight at the 6 p.m. CT first pitch, but the infield and right field were in the shadows.
"I'm not going to make an excuse, but it took me a while to get comfortable seeing the ball," Cameron said. "When you go home, you want to be comfortable."
You also want to impress the fans after jumping to a new organization.
"People expect certain things out of you," Cameron said. "Your teammates know what you're capable of doing, but the fans, as much as they are fans, they are results-driven. We understand that, but you have to continue to keep in mind what is really important and find a way to execute your talents."
Brewers' manager Ned Yost said he's not bothered by Cameron's streaky nature. On Saturday, Yost bumped Cameron up to the No. 6 hole and moved third baseman Bill Hall down to seventh.
Yost hoped the move would help spark Hall, who entered play Saturday hitless in his last 12 at-bats and in an 8-for-57 (.140) slump. Yost also hoped to get the most from Cameron's hot bat.
"You go back and look at Cammy's stats, and he's a guy that when he's hot, he's hot. We saw him hot in Spring Training," Yost said. "And then when he's cool, he's a bit cool. But the thing about Cammy that's so important is he brings his defense to the park every single day. He saves runs in the outfield when he's not swinging the bat well."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.