Roenicke defends Kotsay start

He was asked about a temptation to start Craig Counsell, who has an excellent track record against Cardinals Game 4 starter Kyle Lohse. But Brewers manager Ron Roenicke answered with a strong defense of his decision to start another veteran bench hand, Mark Kotsay, in Game 3.

Kotsay had a mixed night. He was doubled off second base and couldn’t convert a key out in center field in the first inning, but walked twice in the game and homered. The non-catch was a key play in the Brewers’ 4-3 loss, and Roenicke’s decision to play the 35-year-old the key fodder for columnists.

“I know you guys hammered me for Kotsay yesterday,” Roenicke told the roomful of reporters, “but you know, Kotsay is a good outfielder. I didn’t put somebody out there who was a bad outfielder. I just didn’t have Carlos Gomez in there. Carlos is a fabulous outfielder.

“I feel good with Kotsay in the outfield. And I like his offense. Really, what it comes down to is Kotsay versus Nyjer [Morgan]. It wasn’t ‘Gomey,’ because Gomey is great in the outfield but he doesn’t play against right handers. He hasn’t started against a right hander in, I don’t know, four months?

“[Lineup decisions] get tough in the playoffs because you can’t ride things out if a guy is in a little funk. Sometimes you want somebody in there that has a chance to get hot. Kotsay did what he was supposed to do yesterday. He got a home run and two walks in front of our big boys. That’s what he was supposed to do. Okay, he got caught off second base. ‘Kots,’ I know, wasn’t happy about that play, but he did what he was supposed to do.”

Kotsay started again in Game 4, this time in right field. He is 1-for-13 against Cards starter Kyle Lohse, but Hart is 2-for-17 lifetime against Lohse and 1-for-12 in the NLCS.

“Corey’s scuffling lately, and he scuffled against Lohse,” Roenicke said. “So I talked to him last night after the game, and it sounded like putting Kotsay out there was a good way to go about it.”

Here’s the full lineup:

Nyjer Morgan CF
Mark Kotsay RF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Rickie Weeks 2B
Jerry Hairston Jr. 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
George Kottaras C
Randy Wolf LHP

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