Brewers manager Ken Macha said Carlos Gomez has been tweaking his swing to produce more ground balls. The key for the speedy center fielder is keeping his lead elbow low, and thus keeping the bat head from dropping down.
“Yesterday’s batting practice, I thought he swung the bat as well as he has this spring,” Macha said. “We want him to get it on the ground, but I don’t want him to conscious about it. … A lot of the balls he hit in batting practice were hard and low.”
Macha asked his statistical gurus to prepare a report of Gomez’s success on fly balls, line drives, ground balls and bunts. It bore out what Macha suspected, that he would be well-served to avoid hitting everything in the air.
Here’s the data, courtesy of Brewers manager of advance scouting and baseball research Karl Mueller:
Career batting average by batted ball type…
Ground Balls – .268 (306 put in play)
Line Drives – .631 (123 put in play)
Fly Balls – .195 (261 put in play)
Bunts – .446 (102 put in play, 10 of which were sacrifices)
It’s no surprise that the line drive average is so high. The Major League average is about .700.
Macha repeated what closer Trevor Hoffman said Tuesday, that there’s no reason to worry about the fact he has yet to appear in a Cactus League game. Hoffman is taking it easy this spring to avoid a situation like the one that emerged last year, when he strained a rib-cage muscle.
Hoffman threw a bullpen session on Monday and said he could debut in a game at some point next week.
“Myself, personally, it’s not a concern for me right now,” Macha said. “He’s got plenty of time to get ready.”
Third baseman Mat Gamel remained a “non-participant,” to borrow Macha’s phrase, on Wednesday as he tries to quiet a sore shoulder. Outfielder Trent Oeltjen (wrist) has been taking swings in the batting cage at 75-80 percent, Macha said, and was to see one of the team’s doctors on Wednesday. So was right-hander Josh Butler, who has a sore right elbow or triceps.
Butler had a cortisone shot several days ago and conceded that unless he gets back to throwing very soon, he might miss out on Cactus League action.
“It’s going to be close,” Butler said. “Hopefully I can [pitch in a game] but the biggest thing right now is getting healthy.”
The Brewers play split-squad games on Thursday and again on Saturday, so third base coach Brad Fischer made a point in the team’s morning meeting of telling players to make sure they know where they are going over the next few days.
This early in camp, the extra games are a good thing, at least from a pitching perspective. The Brewers say they are considering seven men for the starting rotation, and this week lines up such that Chris Narveson can pitch on the road against the Reds on Thursday while Randy Wolf works against the A’s at home, and Dave Bush and Manny Parra can each start a game on Saturday, when the Brewers play at home against Colorado and on the road at the White Sox.
“We’ve got a large number [of pitchers] in camp and we’ve got a big competition in the starting [rotation] so we’ve been able to slot guys,” Macha said.