MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers signed shortstop Alex Gonzalez for his superlative defense, but they are not exactly surprised that he entered Sunday second on the team with three home runs."He's always hit home runs," manager Ron Roenicke said. "he's always driven the ball, had extra-base hits. I knew we were going to get that part of it. What I wanted more, for him, was to have a tougher at-bat, to be able to use all of the field. We saw that in Spring Training. I really believe this guy can hit for a higher average." You don't hear managers say that about 35-year-old players very often, especially those with parts of 14 seasons in the Major Leagues. But Roenicke has said often since the start of Spring Training that Gonzalez has the skills to hit much higher than his .247 career average. Gonzalez's three-run home run in Saturday's win over the Rockies was the 155th homer of his career, 18th all time among Major Leaguers who primarily played shortstop. Robin Yount is third on that list with 251 homers, though he hit many of them as a center fielder. Gonzalez said his focus is simply on producing quality at-bats. "For me, I don't want to try to hit a homer," he said. "This is a great ballpark to hit a homer, but I don't want to get crazy, too excited every time I get to home plate, that it makes it hard for me to [hit] the ball the other way." Still, "I think I'm a pull hitter. Early in the count, I want to be aggressive. ... With two strikes, depending on how they pitch me, you have to make adjustments and then you go to the other way."
Braun receives MVP hardware before finale
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun was a bit sheepish about accepting his 2011 National League MVP Award for the second time.The team hosted a Sunday ceremony to honor Braun, giving fans a chance to celebrate their role in cheering Braun to his finest season. The Brewers even pushed the first pitch back 15 minutes, to 1:25 p.m. CT, so the stadium would be full for the event. Was Braun looking forward to it? "No, honestly," he said Saturday night. "I'm looking forward to the game. I don't know. It's something that's kind of in the past, honestly something I'm really proud of. It's exciting to have an opportunity, I guess, to share that opportunity with the fans a little bit. But other than that, it's definitely more important to come out and try to win the series as a team." Braun helped the Brewers win the middle game of the three-game series on Saturday night, snapping out of an 0-for-16 slump with a tying home run, then hitting an RBI triple amid Milwaukee's six-run seventh inning. That performance lightened the mood on Sunday, when 1982 and '89 American League MVP Robin Yount delivered Braun's NL MVP trophy and Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio presented Braun with his 2011 Silver Slugger Award during a five-minute presentation. Braun was already acquainted with his MVP Award, which was presented at a Baseball Writers Association of America banquet in New York in January. His parents fetched the trophy from Braun's Malibu, Calif., home and brought it to Miller Park, where the Brewers ceremonially gave it back to him. "I know Brauny is trying to play it low," said manager Ron Roenicke, who was at the New York ceremony. "It's still a pretty special award. I think he'd rather be out there playing like he did last night, having great games and not worrying about this stuff."
To bunt or not to bunt? That is Crew's question
MILWAUKEE -- Judging by the Twitter chatter during the Brewers-Rockies game on Saturday night, Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke is going to provide plenty of fodder for a season-long debate about the merits of the sacrifice bunt.Roenicke's much-debated decision to bunt came in the fifth inning, when Rockies starter Drew Pomeranz suddenly struggled to find the strike zone, losing his perfect-game bid by walking the first batter of the inning, Aramis Ramirez, and his no-hit bid when Corey Hart smacked a ground-rule double. A passed ball gave the Brewers their first run, and an Alex Gonzalez double just inside of third base gave Milwaukee the lead at 2-1. When Mat Gamel followed with a walk, Pomeranz had already thrown 17 pitches in the inning, and only five for strikes. But the Brewers had been struggling badly for offense over the past week, and Roenicke decided to play some small ball. Jonathan Lucroy gave up an out with a sacrifice bunt, Colorado got the second out at home when pinch-hitter Norichika Aoki grounded to third with the contact play on. Rickie Weeks worked a walk to load the bases, but Carlos Gomez flew out to deep center field, and the rally was suddenly over. "If we're bashing the ball, I probably don't do that," Roenicke said of Lucroy's bunt. "But any time you're a little stagnant with your offense, I think you need to create things, instead of just sitting back and watching. "Luc is a good hitter, is the thing. That's why it's a tough decision with him. I know he can drive the ball, I feel very confident with him swinging the bat. I really wanted to get [another] run. If we got two, great, but I really wanted to get a run." In the end, the Brewers' offense broke free in a six-run seventh inning, and they won the game, 9-4.