MILWAUKEE -- When Brewers manager Ron Roenicke gave outfielder Norichika Aoki a day off on June 20 because he thought fatigue might be leading to a mini slump, the 30-year-old rookie decided to cut back on his daily workout regimen.The results on the field since have shown Roenicke might have been correct in assuming Aoki was tired. After going 0-for-4 on June 22 and dropping his average to .269 -- the lowest it had been since mid-May -- Aoki started a 12-game hit streak, which he continued with a base hit in the first inning on Thursday against the Marlins. Before his recent streak, Aoki hadn't hit safely in more than six games in a row. But by cutting down his pregame routine to what he estimated is one-third of what it used to be, Aoki said he's more fresh heading into each game. "I feel like I can be more consistently good, as opposed to having my ups and downs before," Aoki said. "When I went through my good streaks, it didn't really last long. I would just go back down again. That was the result of working out and practicing too hard." Aoki has recorded multiple hits in five games during his streak, and was batting .395 with six RBIs in that span entering Thursday's series finale against the Marlins. Still, midway through the season, he finds himself getting used to the daily grind of Major League Baseball. The biggest changes from Japan, where he was a three-time Central League batting champion, and the Majors are travel and schedule. Aoki said day games only came on the weekend in Japan, and his team didn't play on consecutive days nearly as often, making it easier to take between 1,000 and 2,000 practice swings per day. Although he appreciates the effort, Roenicke said it's important that Aoki realized he needed to make a change. "Those are the little adjustments that players make and figure out what works best," Roenicke said. "I think if he was coming in that hour early, and he was hitting his whatever -- 200-300 balls in the cage every day -- and he was able to maintain strength and performance, then he would stick with it. But you have to adjust to different things you see."
Marcum not sure on timetable for return
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers right-hander Shaun Marcum still doesn't know when he might be back on the mound for a game or even a bullpen session, but he expected to have a better idea by the end of the day on Thursday.Marcum was scheduled to play catch on Thursday for the first time in about five days. He's been out of action since June 19, when he was scratched from his start against the Blue Jays with right elbow tightness. Mike Fiers made his third start in Marcum's spot -- his seventh of the season -- on Thursday against the Marlins. In 13 starts before the injury, Marcum was 5-3 with a 3.39 ERA. Since being scratched, he said he hasn't been able to do much other than work out without throwing. "There's still some tenderness in there," he said of the elbow. "It just depends on the day. A lot of that I think is due to workouts and stuff, working everything and keeping everything strong." Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said on Tuesday "there's a chance" Marcum might not be back immediately after the All-Star break. When asked on Thursday if Marcum would be back in July at all, Roenicke said he didn't know. "It's hard to guess now where he's going to show up," Roenicke said.
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin and manager Ron Roenicke met before Thursday's game against the Marlins. Roenicke didn't get too specific, but he said the conversation involved a "little bit about everything.""Just what we're seeing," Roenicke said. "What we can do to improve, what's going to happen here after the break, what are we going to do with our starting pitching coming back. So, it's a little of everything." Carlos Lee -- a familiar face for Brewers players and fans -- started his first game with the Marlins on Thursday at Miller Park after being traded to the team on Wednesday. Lee played for Milwaukee in 2005 and for much of '06. Since '07, he's been a National League Central foe with the Astros, batting .282 with 18 home runs in 85 career games against the Brewers. "They got him here quick," Roenicke said. "We know him. He's a great RBI guy. He understands what he needs to do in that at-bat. ... He does what it takes to drive in that run."
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.