MILWAUKEE -- Resuming a practice they first adopted in summer 2010, the Brewers on Saturday used Miller Park's movable roof to help combat the ballpark's notorious shadows, which can be downright dangerous for hitters and defenders during the mid-afternoon.
After a band of storms pushed through, stadium officials opened the roof only partially, leaving two of the moveable panels perched over right field to block most of the sun while maintaining an open-air feel.
Team and stadium officials have considered other remedies for the shadows, including tinting the huge bank of windows above the seats that face west-southwest. But they could not find a material that worked effectively.
"This game time, 3 o'clock, is the worst," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "And it's not just the hitters -- [Mark] Reynolds was playing third base and said he couldn't see a single ball off the bat."
The Brewers consulted the umpires and the Rockies before implementing the plan on Saturday.
"Being a hitter, shadows were your worst nightmare," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Usually the worst situation was the pitcher being in the shade and the sun being on the backdrop. That's when it's very difficult to see. I'm guessing that's what they're talking about, because I've never been here for a 3 o'clock start, I don't believe."
The shadows are the price the Brewers pay for the benefits of Miller Park's 12,000-ton, 10-1/2-acre retractable roof, which allowed the team to conduct business as usual on Saturday despite a line of storms that pushed through just after 12:30 p.m. CT. Without the roof, early batting practice and the relievers' daily throwing session would have been washed out.
"I can't tell you how nice it is when you come to the ballpark and you know we're going to take BP on time, you know everything's going to happen on time," Roenicke said. "Some places you go, every single time you go there, there's a rain delay or a rainout. This is huge."
Gomez keeps balance by taking left-handed BP
MILWAUKEE -- Who was that unfamiliar left-handed hitter taking early batting practice at Miller Park on Saturday afternoon? It was Carlos Gomez, a right-handed hitter who said the opposite swings are part of his daily routine.
"I swing a lot every day, 150-200 swings, and this puts a lot on one side," Gomez said. "If I do only that, then the other side will be weak, and I can get hurt. I try to keep it balanced, like, swing 50-70 times to the left side and do my normal workout from the right side. That's what I do every day."
Usually, only Gomez's teammates and hitting coach Johnny Narron see it because Gomez takes his lefty hacks in the underground batting tunnel. On Saturday, he did his soft toss with Narron on the field.
The left-handed swings are natural for Gomez.
"I was a switch-hitter my whole life, until my second year after I signed with the Mets," he said. "They saw me in instructional league not hitting with power from the left [side], and said, 'No, swing right-handed]."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke thinks there's another benefit.
"He needs to have fun when he's working," Roenicke said. "He actually has a really nice left-handed swing. He's trying to work on some things that he hasn't been doing real well lately. He's trying to smooth that out."
Entering the weekend, Gomez's bat had been relatively quiet on the Brewers' homestand, beginning with an 0-for-4 night Monday that ended at 35 his streak of consecutive games reaching safely. However, in his first at-bat Saturday, Gomez hit a three-run home run, his first homer since June 5.
"I feel fine," Gomez said. "I'm making a little adjustment [to fix] something that I'm not doing, that I noticed in the last couple of games. It's not a big change. It's not my approach, anything like that. It's my hands. Little things make a big difference."
Crew's Davis honored to be All-Star contender
MILWAUKEE -- Chalk it up as another milestone for sophomore Brewers outfielder Khris Davis: Seeing his name on the All-Star ballot.
And he's not just on the ballot. Davis, the Brewers' home run leader with 14 entering Saturday's game against the Rockies, ranked 11th among NL outfielders in the latest round of balloting results, with more than a million votes. He was ahead of Matt Holliday of the Cardinals, a six-time All-Star and a former batting champion.
"It's cool. It's an honor," said Davis, 26. "I really am just honored to be here to be in this situation. Next to a World Series, [the All-Star Game] is probably the next best thing."
Davis' favorite All-Star moment happened at Miller Park, when then-Twins outfielder Torii Hunter robbed Barry Bonds of a home run in the 2002 game, which ended in a tie.
Davis counts making an All-Star team among his goals.
"I think I can if I can get off to a good start and find that consistent ground early," said Davis, who would "definitely" take part in a Home Run Derby if presented the opportunity. "I think it really does mess up someone's swing, but it's fun. It's a different kind of game."
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 10:59 p.m. CT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15, on FOX.