MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke gathers his staff in the coaches' locker room every afternoon to talk baseball. On Friday, the topic was his Cardinals counterpart, Tony La Russa.La Russa, 66, managed his 5,000th Major League game on Friday night. He skippered the White Sox and A's before taking the helm in St. Louis in 1996. "We were talking about it inside, and 5,000 is unbelievable as a manager," Roenicke said. "He's not just hanging around, he's winning, and he has with different organizations. It's pretty incredible." Roenicke is 54 years old and managed his 64th Major League game on Friday, or his 70th if you count the times he filled in for Angels skipper Mike Sciocsia (though they don't count in the official record). If the Brewers are never rained out, Roenicke would have to keep managing until he's 85 to reach 5,000 games. "It's really hard to think about a guy being around that long and managing that many games," Roenicke said.
Betancourt needs to improve to avoid platoon
MILWAUKEE -- If Yuniesky Betancourt doesn't start hitting, there's a chance that shortstop could become the Brewers' next center field.In center, Opening Day starter Carlos Gomez's struggles at the plate have dropped him into a loose platoon with Nyjer Morgan. Gomez is a right-handed hitter and Morgan a lefty. With veteran Craig Counsell available off the bench, the pieces exist to install a similar system at shortstop, where Brewers officials say they are pleasantly surprised with Betancourt's defense but disappointed by his bat. Last season, he tied for the Royals' lead and set career highs in both home runs (16) and RBIs (78) while hitting at spacious Kaufmann Stadium. The Brewers believed a move to Miller Park would translate to even better production in 2011, but Betancourt entered Friday with a woeful .256 on-base percentage (.288 last year), a .595 OPS (.692 last year) and one home run for every 69.7 at-bats (34.8 last year). He was hitting .184 with runners in scoring position. Counsell entered Friday night 13-for-28 lifetime against St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse, so he drew the start over Betancourt. "Whenever the matchups are there, when I can, I like to try to get him in," manager Ron Roenicke said. If Betancourt doesn't get going, Counsell might get in more. "It all comes down to who is playing well," Roenicke said. "We have some spots in the lineup that, if guys are doing well, I'm going to get them in more often. Center field is one. Shortstop may become one. ... "I think Yuni, [based] on what he did last year, deserves his chance to try to see if he can get back that offense, because if he can get it back, this is a very good offensive player. And we really need him in this lineup. That's why we keep putting him out there, because we know that for our offense to have depth, we need him in there hitting."
Seid to check on progress at Dominican facility
MILWAUKEE -- The First-Year Player Draft is in the books, but Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid won't get much of a break. He's set to travel later this month to the Dominican Republic to check on the progress at the team's facility there and to scout players ahead of the July 2 international signing date.The Brewers reestablished an academy in the Dominican two years ago, and their summer league team is off to a terrific start: 9-1 after their doubleheader sweep of the A's on Thursday. "We've been working hard down there to enhance our Dominican program," Seid said. "I think you'll see some of that talent develop into the [stateside Minor League] system, which we need." Players of note at the facility include outfielder Raul Mondesi Jr., the 18-year-old son of the former Major Leaguer who has impressed Brewers officials so far with improved plate discipline. Shortstop Orlando Arcia, just 16, is off to a blistering start, hitting .313 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in his first nine games. Seid added another name to the watch list. "We have an outfielder named Ruben Ozuna that you definitely need to keep an eye on. Definitely," Seid said. "A center fielder, a 19-year-old kid that I think is going to be coming over here [to the U.S.] to play on one of our short season teams. That's a guy that will be very interesting." Rookie-level Helena begins play June 20. Arizona starts on June 21. Ozuna was hitting .333 through his first eight games with a home run and five RBIs. His name used to be Ruben Sanchez, but paperwork associated with Major League Baseball's standard age investigation revealed his last name was actually Ozuna. The player's age was accurate, Seid said.