MILWAUKEE -- Corey Hart's game-saving scoop in Monday's win over the Astros was only the latest example: For a right fielder, he is a really good first baseman.He's so good that manager Ron Roenicke would like Hart to retire his outfield glove and return to first base next season. "That's Doug's decision," Roenicke said, referring to general manager Doug Melvin. "I've told Doug, though, that [Hart's] a difference-maker at first base for me. "Some [of it is] because of the way he plays, and some just because, physically, he's huge. The other night, [Cody] Ransom throws that ball high, and when it left his hand, I thought, 'Oh, no.' And Corey, his reach is tremendous." Hart is the Brewers' first big first baseman since Richie Sexson. Lyle Overbay was generously listed as 6-foot-2, and Prince Fielder at 5-foot-11. Hart, like Sexson, is 6-foot-6. The Brewers drafted Hart as a first baseman but moved him to third and then the outfield, because Brad Nelson was supposed to be the first baseman of the future. "[Hart] says, 'Nothing's getting by me,'" Roenicke said. "When you have that attitude, he'll go down and block it or whatever it takes. He's been amazing. I just wanted [Melvin] to know that." Keeping Hart at first base would throw back into flux the future of Mat Gamel, who was Fielder's replacement before sustaining a season-ending knee injury in May. The Brewers would either have to trade Gamel or ask him, again, to change positions; he has already been a third baseman, a corner outfielder and a first baseman. With Hart at first, the Brewers could either keep Norichika Aoki in right field, or platoon Aoki and Carlos Gomez in center and seek a hitter during the offseason to play right. "Those [issues] still have to be talked about," Roenicke said. "If it works out better for us all around for [Hart] to go back to right field, then he goes back out. But I know what he's done at first base so far, and it's really impressive." Melvin declined to offer his opinion about the Brewers' plan for next season, saying that he is focused instead on winning the team's remaining games in 2012. Hart is signed with the Brewers through the end of next season, at a $10 million salary for 2013.
K-Rod realistic about struggles, status with Crew
MILWAUKEE -- Francisco Rodriguez checked his ego at the clubhouse door for the start of the series with the Astros, a good thing considering what was to come in the first two games.On Monday, amid a season full of struggles that includes six blown saves, Rodriguez -- an 11-year Major League veteran with 294 saves -- was asked to sit in the eighth inning when the game was on the line. On Tuesday he got to pitch, but with the Brewers blowing out the Astros, 10-1. "I've put myself in those situations," Rodriguez said. "That's the bottom line. To be pointing fingers, I would have to point it right here." He pointed to his chest. "You know the funny thing I've been thinking about the last few days?" he said. "Last year, when [John Axford] or me or anybody else from the bullpen came in, people would say, 'It's over.' The last week, any time we were coming in, people were like, 'Oh, no.'" He leaned back in his chair, turned away and covered his eyes for effect. "We have to get back to where we were," he said. "Hopefully, the people don't give up on us. Stay with us, because we're going to bounce back." Had he really seen fans at Miller Park shielding their eyes as he trotted to the mound? "If you don't notice, you must be real blind," he said. "You have to be realistic, and I'm realistic. I don't live in dreams. When I stink, I will say right away that I stink." On Tuesday, working with a nine-run lead against an Astros team that won all of three games in July, he did not stink. He worked a 1-2-3 inning that included two strikeouts, and declared afterward, "That's me right there." On Monday, Rodriguez began warming up in the bullpen with the Brewers down, 3-0, in the seventh inning. Before the game, manager Ron Roenicke said that he wanted to put Rodriguez in a non-pressure situation after he'd blown two straight saves last week in Philadelphia, and it appeared that Roenicke had found the perfect spot. Then the Brewers put together a four-run inning to take the lead, and Roenicke stuck to his original plan. Rodriguez took a seat on the bench, and Livan Hernandez went in to pitch in the eighth inning. Could Rodriguez, who set the single-season record with 62 saves in 2008, ever remember such an occurrence? "No," Rodriguez said. "But when you have your ERA at mid-five, and you have three blown saves and you have not even recorded a full inning in the last three outings, there's nothing you can say." Although they made it interesting, Rodriguez's bullpen-mates were able to hold on for an 8-7 win, with Axford recording his 17th save. Roenicke said on Tuesday afternoon that he wasn't sure how upset Rodriguez was about that decision. "To be honest with you, I probably want him to be a little mad about it," Roenicke said. "When it's close and on the line, he wants to be out there, so I have no problem with that. But it's a tough decision. And to do that to him, believe me, that wasn't easy to do." If things go according to plan, both Rodriguez and Axford will work their way back to high-leverage innings. Rodriguez is a free agent after the season, and a string of solid performances could conceivably convince a contender to call the Brewers about an August trade. Given that he is earning $8 million, Rodriguez would have a good chance to clear waivers if the Brewers have not already passed him through. "Every single ballplayer alive struggles. It's part of it. But we have a great challenge ahead of us," Rodriguez said. "Two months left in the season to turn it around."
Quiet day for Brewers as Trade Deadline passes
MILWAUKEE -- Miller Park's war room was quiet as baseball's non-waiver Trade Deadline came and went on Tuesday afternoon, but that does not mean the Brewers have made their last trade of 2012."There wasn't anything there that was desirable for us," general manager Doug Melvin said. "I didn't have any phone calls at all with a general manager all day." Things might have been different had the bullpen not collapsed so thoroughly beginning last week in Philadelphia. Had free-agent-to-be Francisco Rodriguez converted both of his save opportunities in that series rather than blowing them, "He would be gone, no question," one front-office official said on Tuesday. Other relievers drew interest earlier in the month, Melvin said, but requests tailed off as the struggles mounted. But, as Melvin pointed out, trading season is not over yet. Teams can still swap players if they pass them through waivers first, and the Brewers have three pending free agents who could draw interest -- Rodriguez and starters Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf, whose salaries could help them clear the waiver wire. Marcum would have to get healthy, and Rodriguez and Wolf would need some better results to entice buyers, who must acquire a player by Aug. 31 in order for him to be eligible for postseason play. Marcum looks like the Brewers' most attractive chip, assuming he can recover from the stiff elbow that has sidelined him since mid-June. Before that injury, Marcum had a 3.39 ERA in 13 starts and a .227 average against. Marcum is scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Wednesday, then a simulated game over the weekend in St. Louis before heading out for a rehab assignment. He is eligible to return from the 60-day disabled list on Aug. 14. Moving a starting pitcher or two before the end of the season would make sense for the Brewers, because they want a look at some of the young arms who will figure into the 2013 rotation.
Roenicke, Narron ejected in ninth inning on Tuesday
MILWAUKEE -- So much for enjoying a rare blowout win. Manager Ron Roenicke and bench coach Jerry Narron were ejected on Tuesday night with three outs to go in a 10-1 game.The trouble began when reliever Francisco Rodriguez, getting work in a rout because of his recent struggles, appeared to strike out Astros outfielder Justin Maxwell with a curveball. At least Maxwell believed he'd been struck out; he turned toward the dugout. But wait -- plate umpire Brian Knight's call was ball two. Narron voiced his displeasure from the bench and was ejected. Roenicke went toward home plate to hear Knight's explanation and was ejected, too. "He told me it was high," Roenicke said. "It wasn't even close to being high." Rodriguez did get a called strike three on the next pitch, a fastball that even he admitted might have been a bit low, and he went on to close the game with a 1-2-3 inning. Roenicke, whose only other ejection this season came on July 7 at Houston -- after Sam Holbrook tossed Zack Greinke for spiking the ball in frustration after a play at first base -- was uncharacteristically upset. "[Knight] says, 'You're yelling at me in a 10-1 ballgame?'" he said. "I said, 'I don't care what the score is. I've got a pitcher out there that's working as hard as he can. You blow a call and you throw my guy out?' "And he throws me out for that. That's a poor job by him."
Left fielder Ryan Braun returned to the lineup on Tuesday after missing Monday's game to receive treatment for multiple deep blisters on his left hand, a problem that has been dogging Braun for some time. Left-handed reliever Manny Parra said that the discomfort in his throwing shoulder is a familiar problem, caused by weakness in the joint, which leads to impingement and pain in his rotator cuff. He predicted he would only be sidelined a couple of days. "I've had it before, so we kind of know what we have to do to deal with it," Parra said.
The Brewers' favorite Trade Deadline deal didn't even involve them. It was the Cubs sending Ryan Dempster, who has long given the Brewers trouble, to the Rangers."That was a good move for us, not having to face him," Roenicke said.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.