Crew's hurlers try to help themselves at plate
Pitchers embrace chances to step in and take hacks
PHOENIX -- The pitchers who likely will comprise Milwaukee's regular-season starting rotation are on quite a roll on the mound, having allowed just four runs in 36 1/3 innings of work this spring. But around the clubhouse, they'd much rather talk about their time at the plate.
Take Zack Greinke, who was firing away when he stepped in this week against Seattle's Hector Noesi. Or Chris Narveson, who took his hacks against San Diego's Dustin Moseley on Thursday. But it's doubtful any have been talking about it more than Randy Wolf, who had two knocks on Wednesday against the Cubs.
"He was tooting his horn pretty good," Narveson said of his teammate. "But he had a right. He was 2-for-2 and had a great game."
The Brewers' hurlers enjoy hitting partly because it allows them to help their own cause, but also because when they get to face live pitching in Spring Training, it means Opening Day is near.
"It's another step for a starting pitcher," Yovani Gallardo said. "Once you start getting at-bats in games, you're almost there."
It's also another responsibility for a National League pitcher, who almost always takes his swings from the bottom of the order. But to manager Ron Roenicke, who said he wants each pitcher to have four games in which they get at-bats this spring, those plate appearances can make a huge difference.
"Their role offensively is big," Roenicke said. "You see ballgames all the time -- guys are in scoring position or you have a chance to bunt and get them up another base -- and all that stuff leads to a win. If they can help themselves offensively, it's gonna win more ballgames for them."
It was also on display Thursday, when pitcher Wily Peralta connected for a three-run double in an eventual 6-4 win over the Padres. To see a hurler with a line like that may have come as a surprise to some, but not to those who've seen Peralta in batting practice.
"He can hit," Roenicke said. "He's got huge power. I mean, like Braunie [Ryan Braun] and Rickie [Weeks] power."
The Brewers' pitchers make a point of not focusing on their Spring Training numbers, and that goes for their hitting, too. But if the spring is any indication, Wolf knows he's in for a better offensive year than last season.
"After [Wednesday's] game, I have more RBIs than I did all year last year," Wolf said. "I got shut out last year, even though I did have the highest batting average with runners in scoring position of all the pitchers."