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Gonzalez leaves Brewers short

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Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
April 18, 2012
— The Milwaukee Brewers opened their nine-game home stand Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers a man short.

Shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who missed the Brewers’ previous two games in Atlanta in order to fly back to Florida for the birth of his third child, had his return to Milwaukee unexpectedly pushed back an extra day.


Gonzalez’s son, Axel David, was born Sunday, but manager Ron Roenicke said doctors wanted to monitor both the baby and Gonzalez’s wife, Johanna, an additional day. The birth was induced a few days early for medical reasons.


“He was going to come back this morning, take his wife back this morning and then fly back here,” Roenicke said. “Not anything big, but a little setback with his wife. They wanted her to stay in the hospital one more day. So he’s going to take her home tomorrow, and he’ll fly out and join us.”


The Brewers had called up infielder Eric Farris from Class AAA Nashville to take Gonzalez’s place on the roster for the final two games in Atlanta. But with Gonzalez being on paternity leave, Farris could only be kept up for a maximum of three days.


With the Brewers being off Monday, they had no other way to fill the void Tuesday.


“We can’t do it anyway—we’ve got three days on that,” Roenicke said, referring to bringing Farris back. “Paternity leave, you’ve got one to three days. If we go beyond this, we have to figure out how else we’re going to do it. But it can no longer be a paternity (leave).”


With Gonzalez gone, Cesar Izturis got his third consecutive start at shortstop, against the same Dodgers team with which he won a Gold Glove in 2004. He picked up his first RBI as a Brewer with a single up the middle in the second inning to give Milwaukee a 2-0 lead.


Searching for answers


Roenicke is a big believer in keeping the lines of communication open with his players. On Tuesday, third baseman Aramis Ramirez came in to talk about his tough start at the plate.


Going into Tuesday, Ramirez was hitting just .114 with five runs batted in. He was 3 for 24 on the Brewers’ just-completed seven-game trip and is in the midst of his longest homerless streak to start a season since 2003.


“It’s a slow start for him,” Roenicke said. “He’s not happy where he is. He came in and talked to me today. He wants to do something to help contribute to this team winning, and he feels that he isn’t doing that right now.”


Roenicke was asked if it was unusual for a proven veteran like Ramirez—who signed a three-year, $36 million deal in the off-season to replace Prince Fielder in the cleanup spot—to approach a manager and discuss his struggles.


“It happens,” he said. “I’ve seen it happen with guys before. It tells me a lot about a guy when he comes in and tells me what’s on his mind and how he feels he’s not helping us win.”


Ramirez hit .306 with 26 home runs and 93 RBI last season for the Cubs and is a career .284 hitter. With his next homer he’ll take over sole possession of eighth place on the all-time home run list for third basemen with 313.


Welcome back


The Brewers wanted Jerry Hairston Jr. back this season. Hairston wanted to return to Milwaukee.


But with the Brewers offering only a one-year deal and the Dodgers willing to go two, Hairston said the decision was essentially made for him.


“(Two years) was what I was seeking,” said Hairston. “I understood (the Brewers’) position. The great thing about Milwaukee was they were always honest with us. They were up front, and we wish we could have worked it out, but we just couldn’t. Obviously no hard feelings. This game—it’s business.”


Hairston is playing a utility role with the Dodgers much like he would have with the Brewers, who acquired him in a trade late last July. Hairston proved to be a huge addition, filling in for both Carlos Gomez in center and Rickie Weeks at second base.


Hairston saved his best for the postseason, though, eventually replacing Casey McGehee as the starting third baseman. He became a fan favorite thanks in large part to his .362 average and some slick glove work.


“I had so much fun being a Brewer, and I really loved it here,” said Hairston, who’s hitting .308 in six games.



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