Why is Weeks hitting second? Roenicke explains
Rickie Weeks returned to the Brewers’ lineup as promised on Tuesday, two hours after manager Ron Roenicke explained why his slumping second baseman continues to bat near the top of the lineup.
“The thing is, we need Rickie to swing the bat,” Roenicke said. “That’s the biggest thing. I mean, for our offense to really go, we need Rickie to swing the bat well. So, how to we get Rickie to swing the bat the best?
“Is it to leave him second? Is it to put him eighth? Those are the discussions I had with Rick. Where he is, is where he thinks he has a chance more quickly to be where he needs to be.”
Weeks’ input in the matter, Roencike said, is important.
“It is important, because it’s mental,” Roenicke said. “The hitting part, unless you have an injury, is not physical. It’s mental. … If, mentally, he is better at a certain spot [in the lineup], then we try to do that.”
Whatever the cause, Weeks has not hit this season. He entered Tuesday, Weeks’ first start since he was struck on the left hand by a wayward pitch Friday night, hitless in his last 18 at-bats. Weeks was batting .157 for the season and had the third-most strikeouts (41) among National League hitters.
You don’t need to be a hitting coach to see that Weeks has been diving out over the plate after swings. But the causes of those unbalanced swings, Roenicke said, are mental.
“Mentally, there’s something going on that makes you do that,” Roenicke said. “He probably swings 50-100 times a day [in the batting cage] the right way. So why, when you get in a game, do you do have a swing that’s completely different than what you do in practice? Something changes up here [in the player’s head]. You’re thinking, ‘Hey, this guy is going to pitch me away, I’ve got to go out and hit this ball.’ The next thing you know, you’re diving out over the plate.”
Weeks gets some say about his spot in the batting order because he started the All-Star Game last season, and has been a productive hitter over the healthy portions of his eight-plus seasons with the Brewers. But Roenicke reserved the right to drop Weeks in the order should his slump persist.
“It’s not as easy as everybody things — ‘Well, just move him down,’” Roenicke said. “That’s easy to say, but it’s not that easy to do.”
Asked whether Weeks viewed batting low in the batting order as a personal affront, Roenicke said, “The discussions I have with him, a lot of those are between us. This is what we came up with.”
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