Hawkins wants increased role in ‘pen
Brewers reliever LaTroy Hawkins expressed in a pre-game sit-down Wednesday with manager Ron Roenicke that he was ready for a more prominent role in the bullpen.
Roenicke has shied away from using Hawkins in high-leverage situations since the 38-year-old right-hander returned from a season-opening stint on the disabled list to build strength in his surgically-repaired right shoulder. With Kameron Loe unavailable to work the eighth inning Tuesday night with a 4-1 Brewers lead, Roenicke turned to another right-hander, Marco Estrada, who surrendered three runs.
Hawkins ended up pitching a scoreless ninth inning with the game tied at 4, his first appearance in a week, but the Brewers lost in the bottom of the 10th. On Wednesday afternoon, Hawkins went to the manager for a closed-door chat.
“That was a positive conversation,” Roenicke said. “I figured I would have that conversation with ‘Hawk.’ Whether he was in here or me going to talk to him out on the field somewhere, it was going to happen.
“He hadn’t pitched, and I’m really not putting him in that spot that he thinks he could be put into. I’m glad he came in. I don’t think I’d feel real comfortable if he didn’t feel the way that he does, because hen he wouldn’t have confidence in himself and what he’s doing.”
After meeting with Hawkins, Roenicke called pitching coach Rick Kranitz and bench coach Jerry Narron into the office.
Hawkins declined to speak to a reported early in the afternoon, saying he’d rather talk directly with his manager.
Hawkins’ fastball velocity has not returned to its pre-surgery levels, but he told Roenicke on Wednesday that it’s partly because he has been throwing many more two-seam sinkers. Tuesday marked his 16th consecutive scoreless outing since he allowed a run in his season debut.
While Loe continues to fill-in for injured Takashi Saito as Milwaukee’s eight-inning man, Roenicke has been mixing and matching in the seventh. He’d like to find some stability there, and Hawkins could be the pick if he continues to get such positive results.
“We’re trying to find who’s going to be that guy,” Roenicke said. “I thought it was going to be Estrada for a while. He’s struggled lately. [Tim] Dillard has probably thrown good enough to slip in there. Then ‘Hawk,’ with his numbers and how he’s been doing, he’s a guy that I think I should put in there also.”
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