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Brewers get the hits but not the win

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McClatchy Tribune
February 26, 2009
— Different players had different agendas Wednesday as the Milwaukee Brewers opened their exhibition season with a 3-3, 10-inning tie against Oakland at Maryvale Baseball Park.

Jeff Suppan focused on his fastball command.


Corey Hart wanted to put some good swings on the ball after his September fade.


Trevor Hoffman just wanted to get hitters out, no matter how it happened.


As for Hoffman’s trademark entrance to the AC/DC tune “Hells Bells,” let’s just say we probably won’t hear that heavy-metal classic again until the Brewers get to Miller Park.


“Hopefully, we’ll correct that. Everybody gets a mulligan,” said Hoffman, who was not exactly thrilled that his entrance music was used in the seventh inning of an exhibition game.


Considering the Brewers scored only three runs, several players had nice days at the plate. Hart singled, homered and walked in three at-bats before exiting and catcher Jason Kendall doubled and singled in two trips to the plate.


Infielder Craig Counsell came off the bench to go 3 for 3 and Scott Thorman also was perfect in reserve at first base by going 2-for 2.


“I think I started the wrong guys,” joked Ken Macha, making his managerial debut for the Brewers.


After disappearing at the plate last September (.173, no homers), Hart came to camp on a mission to start strong and finish strong.


“I was excited to get back out there,” Hart said. “I’m trying to put together good at-bats after the way I finished last year. I’ve been working extra hard to come out strong and give everybody confidence I can be the guy they want me to be.”


Suppan went two innings and allowed one run, that coming on a second-inning home run by Bobby Crosby. The veteran right-hander works through a progression in exhibition play and threw only fastballs and changeups in his first outing.


“It’s weird. You work hard all winter and then you realize, ’I’m in a real game out here,”’ said Suppan. “It was good. I was happy with it. My goal is to work on a downhill plane (with his pitches).”


Hoffman surrendered a ground-rule double to the first batter he faced, Jack Hannahan, who went down and got a changeup. He put down the next three hitters in order, benefiting from a charging, diving catch from centerfielder Chris Duffy for the second out.


“It was good to get out and have the competitive juices going other than (throwing) batting practice,” said Hoffman. “I was kind of ramping it up. It’s hard to duplicate the energy that comes with it and the soreness that follows.


“I’m trying to get outs as quickly as possible. You don’t want to stay out there and labor or get into situations where you get knocked around.”


The only Brewers pitcher to have a tough inning was Jorge Julio, who surrendered two hits, including a two-run homer to Travis Buck, in the fifth. The Brewers tied the score in the eighth on RBI singles by Brad Nelson and Duffy but play was stopped after 10 innings when Oakland ran out of pitchers.


“There were a lot of good things out there,” said Macha.


Plan for Hall: Macha said before the game he will give third baseman Bill Hall the opportunity to prove he should be an everyday player again. Hall evolved into a platoon player last season when he stopped hitting right-handers (.174) while batting .306 against lefties.


Rather than assuming Hall won’t hit righties, Macha said the right-handed hitter would get the chance to prove he should play against them. Macha noted that Hall hit 35 homers and drove in 85 runs three years ago before sliding back the next two years.


“Once he gets healthy, we’ll see what he does,” said Macha, who said Hall’s progress from a calf injury has been “terrific.”


“If he gets his leg healthy and handles right-handed pitchers, that would be such a big boost to the lineup because you’d think with the Harts and the Brauns and the Fielders, those guys would put up some numbers.


“Now you get a guy in the lineup hitting like he used to, wow! He said he’s going to be better.”


And if Hall doesn’t hit righties?


“We’ve got options if it’s not working out or if he needs a day off or if Mike Lamb goes out there and he’s hitting .300 and getting on-base at a .400 clip against right-handed pitchers,” said Macha.



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