Reynolds' slick glove a nice surprise for Crew
Known for powerful bat, first baseman has been sharp on defense
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers knew they were getting a big bat when they signed Mark Reynolds to play first base, but it turns out they also made a significant upgrade in the field.
"It doesn't really surprise me after seeing him last year," said Lyle Overbay, a New York Yankees teammate in 2014 who followed Reynolds to Milwaukee over the winter.
But it is surprising some other observers less familiar with Reynolds' work because he played the past three seasons in the American League. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is among those who call Reynolds' defense better than expected.
"But I did hear through the grapevine when we first got him that he was pretty good," Roenicke said. "That he had good hands. He doesn't have great foot speed, but range-wise, he does a nice job.
"Our first basemen [Reynolds and Overbay] had been fabulous defensively so far. I can probably name you eight plays that we've made that we probably don't make last year."
Last year, after Corey Hart, Mat Gamel and Taylor Green all went down with season-ending injuries, Roenicke employed seven different first basemen, none of whom had ever before started a Major League game at that position. Four of them had never before played a professional inning there.
Reynolds came up as a third baseman, but he at least brought some experience at first. He's not surprised by his solid play there.
"This is pretty much how I've always played. It's just third base minus the throwing," Reynolds said. "You don't have to catch it cleanly and make a perfect throw. Sometimes you can just knock it down and get it to the pitcher or step on the bag. You have a bigger glove. There's a little more margin for error.
"And I've been working on it. In the past, I would take ground balls every day at third and at first. I was splitting my playing time a lot more. Now, being able to focus on first base had helped."
Brewers still waiting for Weeks to bust out
MILWAUKEE -- Rickie Weeks' Spring Training began with such promise after the longtime Brewers second baseman made what he called a "minute" adjustment to the position of his hands. He was aiming for a quicker, smoother swing, along with more consistency should the team return to a right/left platoon between Weeks and Scooter Gennett.
More than two weeks into the regular season, that platoon is in place, the mechanical change is still in place, but Weeks is still waiting for some hits to fall. Gennett went 1-for-3 in Wednesday's 5-1 win over the Cardinals and owns a .278/.333/.333 slash line, while Weeks is hitting .143/.143/.190. Pinch-hitting on Tuesday night against Cardinals left-hander Kevin Siegrest, Weeks struck out looking at a fastball down the middle. Pinch-hitting Wednesday against right-hander Pat Neshek, Weeks struck out on a foul tip with the bases loaded.
"I see him in [batting practice], he still looks good," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "But somewhere along the line, you need to have that feeling and get some hits and feel confident, and then hopefully that carries you for a long spell.
"There's a lot of platoon systems that work really well. The guy who's the right-handed hitter, he's the one who's got the games where you might not play for two weeks."
So the challenge for the manager is figuring out how to get Weeks going.
"It may be difficult," Roenicke said. "We're trying to win as many games as we can win, and I have to figure out who are the best guys to put out there that day. It's difficult on some of them. It's no different than a guy who is playing every single day [in the Minor Leagues], he comes to the big leagues and now he's a bench player. It's the same thing."
Weeks typically does not like to discuss tough times. When a reporter approached him last week to ask how the platoon was going, he said, "It's just one of those things you have to do."
Has Roenicke had more in-depth conversations?
"We talk about what I have planned, what I'm thinking," Roenicke said. "But I don't know past that too much."
Gorzelanny back on course with rehab
MILWAUKEE -- After taking a week-long break from throwing to rest his surgically repaired left shoulder, Brewers reliever Tom Gorzelanny is back on track in his rehabilitation, manager Ron Roenicke said Wednesday.
Gorzelanny, who had surgery in December to repair fraying of his rotator cuff and labrum, had hoped to be active for the Brewers by the end of April, but he hit a wall earlier this month in his throwing program.
"We backed him off for about a week, and then yesterday or the day before, he came back and threw a bullpen and was really happy, really threw the ball well, far better than he was throwing," Roenicke said. "So he called [head athletic trainer] Dan Wright [and] told him he had a really good bullpen. He's pretty excited about it."
Because of the day-to-day nature of Gorelanny's comeback, the Brewers cannot predict when he will be ready to pitch in a game. In the meantime, the Brewers have three lefties in the Major League bullpen: Zach Duke, Will Smith and Wei-Chung Wang.
"We're still so far off, I don't really ask that much," Roenicke said.
• Asked whether Ryan Braun's day off Wednesday was scheduled or a response to pain in his troublesome right hand, Roenicke said it was "just the same thing," an indication Braun's hand was flaring up again. He was 1-for-8 in the Cardinals series and 5-for-20 on the homestand with no home runs and no RBIs entering Wednesday.
"We'll try to do what we can to get him better for the next day," Roenicke said.
• Reliever Brandon Kintzler played catch Wednesday and expects to return to action immediately when his 15-day disabled list stint expires next week. The Brewers don't believe he will need a Minor League rehabilitation assignment.
• Logan Schafer's batting average rose Wednesday while he was sitting on the Brewers' bench. Major League Baseball changed Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard's run-scoring error in Milwaukee's 9-4 win last Wednesday to an RBI double for Schafer. The switch came as welcome news to Roenicke, who called the official scorer's initial ruling "ridiculous."