Big day for Gamel
Mat Gamel hammered a pair of no-doubt home runs on Saturday that accounted for half of the Brewers’ offense in a 10-7 win over the Padres. He hit a grand slam off Tim Stauffer amid Milwaukee’s six-run third inning, then hit Huston Street’s first pitch in the sixth inning for a solo shot.
Gamel, publicly anointed Prince Fielder’s replacement as far back as November, leads the Brewers with six spring home runs and 14 RBIs.
“It absolutely is important — for him,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “It’s not important for me. It’s important for him. I think the mental side of him going in, he’s trying to take over a position where we were obviously pretty good. I’ve told you guys, I don’t feel that way, but he may. So any time he does something on the plus side, it’s huge for him.”
Gamel has impressed coaches and teammates all spring with his focus. He showed up in shape and avoided the sort of medical setbacks that marked his last three Spring Trainings. His only hiccup was being scratched from Friday’s lineup with a virus.
“He’s a different guy this year,” Roenicke said. “I think he’s decided that he has to bear down to do this job right. He got himself in good shape coming in. I know the average still isn’t good and where he wants it, but I like his at-bats. I like his hands, his set-up. I like everything I see there.”
It was also another good day for Ryan Braun, who was 2-for-3 and made his only out on a deep fly to center field. He’s reached safely in nine straight games and has a hit in six of his last seven.
“You look at his last seven at-bats, and six of them have been bullets,” Roenicke said. “You talk about Ryan turning it on and off, and he’s one of the rare guys that probably can do that.”
Up next, the Brewers play their final Spring Training home game on Sunday at Maryvale Baseball Park, where they’ll “show and go” against the Giants and Tim Lincecum. Roenicke is letting players sleep in for the first time in weeks, a welcome break before another noon game Monday, a busy split-squad Tuesday and one final exhibition against the D-backs at Chase Field on Wednesday wraps-up the spring. Yovani Gallardo will oppose Lincecum on Sunday in both ace’s final tune-up for Opening Day.
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