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Adding lefties provides new look to Brewers lineup

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Mike Johnson
April 6, 2010
— Emulating the lineup of the two-time defending National League champions just might not be a bad idea.

Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin suggested that before Monday’s 5-3 Opening Day loss to the Colorado Rockies at Miller Park when discussing the team’s change from a lineup that was right-hand dominant last season to one that features an ample supply of left-handed batters, like the Philadelphia Phillies, in 2010.


“I think that’s part of the Phillies’ success is Ryan Howard and (Chase) Utley being left-handed and (Jimmy) Rollins and (Shane) Victorino being switch hitters,” Melvin said. “Being able to run four of your eight hitters up there left-handed against the number of right-handed pitchers you face, I think our left-handers will get a lot of playing time.”


Left-handers Jim Edmonds and Jody Gerut, a holdover from last season, give depth to the Milwaukee outfield, as does Craig Counsell to the infield. The Brewers also have a new catching duo, with switch-hitting Greg Zaun and left-handed George Kottaras replacing the right-handed duo of Jason Kendall and Mike Rivera.


“On a given day, (we) could have almost all left-handed hitters out there,” said Melvin, noting a marked difference from last season when Prince Fielder was often the only left-handed batter in the lineup.


Particularly interesting is the duo of Edmonds and former incumbent Corey Hart in right field. A horrible spring by Hart and a solid one by Edmonds opened the door for Edmonds to get starts versus right-handed pitchers like he did on Opening Day against Rockies’ right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.


Manager Ken Macha said before Monday’s game that Hart will start tonight, and he projected about 250 at-bats for Edmonds this season. Macha stopped short, however, of characterizing the right-field situation as a straight platoon.


Don’t forget about Ubaldo


When you name the list of the top pitchers in the National League, Ubaldo Jimenez probably doesn’t immediately come to mind.


Well, he certainly does for the Brewers, who were on the losing end of the hard-throwing right-hander’s eight-hit, one-run, six-inning performance for Colorado on Monday.


“He’s the hardest thrower in the National League, for sure,” Brewer utility man Craig Counsell said. “Everybody saw it, 97 (miles per hour), 97 (again). That from a starting pitcher through six innings … he’s good.”


Milwaukee second baseman Rickie Weeks agrees.


“The biggest thing (is) he works both sides of the plate,” Weeks said. “I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not, but honestly I really don’t know if he knows where the ball is going half the time.


“He’s one of those guys where he’ll throw two balls and come back and paint three more (on the corner).”


Edmonds back in NL Central


After eight seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and part of one with the Chicago Cubs, Jim Edmonds is no stranger to Miller Park.


But after sitting out all of the 2009 season, the 39-year-old was certainly impressed with Milwaukee’s Opening Day atmosphere.


“Awesome,” Edmonds said. “I haven’t been here in a while. It was great. That’s the kind of support you want when you’re playing in the home stadium. You can’t ask for anything more than what we got today.”


One-liners


Yovani Gallardo and Ubaldo Jimenez made their first career Opening Day starts. … Carlos Gomez registered his fifth career four-hit game with two singles, a double and a homer. … The 45,808 fans at Miller Park on Monday represented the second-largest crowd in stadium history. The Miller Park attendance record remains 46,218 against the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 6, 2003.




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