PHOENIX -- Hot-hitting shortstop Alex Gonzalez and center fielder Carlos Gomez were scratched from Brewers split-squad starting lineups on Sunday, Gonzalez with a bruised right heel and Gomez with an illness.Gonzalez was to bat fifth in the Brewers' split-squad game against the Dodgers at Maryvale Baseball Park. He was 2-for-2 with two runs scored on Saturday, and entered Sunday leading the Brewers with 23 total bases this spring. Cesar Izturis, originally slated to start the other split-squad game in Surprise against the Royals, started at shortstop against the Dodgers instead. "We talked about maybe playing [Gonzalez], but decided to give him today," manager Ron Roenicke said. "Hopefully, tomorrow he'll be back in there." Gomez was to play center field at Maryvale, but he started feeling sick Saturday night and was sent home Sunday. He was replaced by journeyman Corey Patterson, who has been playing in the Brewers' Minor League camp.
Aramis finding his groove at the plate
PHOENIX -- Aramis Ramirez figured it was just a matter of time before he got into the swing of things."It's starting to come around," the Brewers' new cleanup hitter said. The suddenness of Ramirez's turnaround -- hitless in his first 12 at-bats in a Brewers uniform, then 8-for-17 entering Sunday's start against the Dodgers, including his first RBI on Friday and his first home run on Saturday -- makes one wonder if Ramirez spent his first few Cactus League games "working on things." Was he tracking pitches, trying to get into certain counts? Nope. "I want to hit," he said. "I don't want to work on something that I don't do. I don't really take a lot of pitches, I'm aggressive up there. That's what I was working on." Ramirez played his third straight day Sunday and will take Monday off. He will then play three of four games, part of ramping up for his debut season with the Brewers. Ramirez signed a three-year, $36 million contract in December. Milwaukee is counting on him to fill the spot in the lineup vacated by longtime Brewer Prince Fielder. Ramirez has batted .300 or better six times, driven in more than 90 runs eight times and hit 25 or more home runs nine times. He's part of a new-look Brewers offense that fans have only seen in glimpses so far. Right fielder Corey Hart is rehabbing from knee surgery. Left fielder Ryan Braun played every other day until late last week. The Brewers have been taking it easy with second baseman Rickie Weeks, who is coming back from last year's ankle injury. "Everybody is on their own schedule," Ramirez said. "We have to wait and see, but I'm pretty sure we're going to be OK."
Roenicke wants to push running game
PHOENIX -- Brewers fans should see more movement on the basepaths beginning Monday, when the team regroups following Sunday's split-squad games and regulars begin getting ready for the regular season.Manager Ron Roenicke prefers an aggressive style, because he believes it produces more runs, puts pressure on the opponent and instills a positive, confident mindset in his own club. Such a style could particularly benefit the Brewers in 2012, Roenicke figures, because he considers the lineup deeper over '11, particularly in the five-hole, and because slugging cleanup hitter Prince Fielder departed via free agency. But aside from a slew of suicide-squeeze plays, the Brewers have not called a particularly high number of hit-and-runs in the first three weeks of Spring Training games. Roenicke said that should change over the final 10 days of camp. "From here on out, yeah, we'll do a little bit more of it," he said. "But early in spring, a guy is working on his swing, working the cages with [hitting coach] Johnny [Narron], and he comes up there and all of a sudden I put a hit-and-run on him? No, I want these guys to get their at-bats, get comfortable, get confident in what they're doing. Now we can start to do more things." After Sunday, the Brewers only have one split-squad day remaining. They play a day game against the Cubs in Mesa on April 3 and a night game against the D-backs at Chase Field. That means the regulars will be together in the lineup more frequently in the waning days of Spring Training. "Everything will hopefully pick up as we get to the last week," Roenicke said.
Asked whether any of his new teammates had particularly impressed him in batting practice, Aramis Ramirez cited three core players: Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun and Corey Hart."Corey looks like he's ready to go," Ramirez said. "I know he's not, but he's looked pretty good. Hopefully, he gets the at-bats he needs and can be ready for Opening Day." That possibility remains slim. Hart has been making cuts in running drills, but said Sunday morning his surgically repaired right knee was still tender and there was no set schedule for him to get into Minor League games. Catcher Mike Rivera was returned to the Minor Leagues on Sunday, leaving 38 players in Milwaukee's big league camp. Rivera has not played in the Cactus League since he strained his right hamstring on March 13. Left-hander Manny Parra has Maryvale Baseball Park's best hairdo, an Elvis-like crop that seems to grow taller by the day. Parra styled it Sunday morning in honor of Vanilla Ice. "It looks like you got electrocuted," clubhouse neighbor Mat Gamel said Sunday.