How Thin Can the Brewers Bench Get?

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Joe Inglett

Does your bench not stretch? Can we use you if you catch? Is there anyone for innings when we need you for some winnings? Are we down to just the pitchers if we made some fielding switchers? Does your bench not stretch?

Bases loaded and one down in the tenth.  Joe Inglett (coming off his own ankle problem) and Craig Counsell have been used. Jody Gerut nursing a bruised heel is passed on. Backup catcher Jonathan Lucroy is being saved in case something happens to Kotteras.

So Ken Macha turns to Randy Wolf to pinch hit. Another K is born. Fortunately, Rickie Weeks wins the game with a walk-off walk in the tenth to give the Brewers their first series win at home since the Opening Homestand against Colorado. Does your bench not stretch?

Photos & Article By: Melissa S. Wollering

Rickie Weeks

If you were thinking what I was thinking, which was if Jody Gerut is too hurt to pinch hit he needs to be DL’d, you’re right.

Jody Gerut was placed on the 15-day DL with a bruised left heel.  OF Adam Stern was recalled from AAA Nashville for his third time this season. He might head right back down on Monday as well, the day we anxiously await Jim Edmonds’ return from the DL for more bench depth.

Seriously, what happens if we have a 12-inning game tomorrow?  We call out Todd Coffey? Should I go out and pinch hit? Obviously, deciding upon a 13-man pitching staff puts you down one man on the bench. However, Inglett’s ankle and Gerut’s untimely heel issue didn’t help.

With Gregg Zaun’s torn labrum in his shoulder, Macha’s vulnerability at the catcher position was probably fresh in his head. Unfortunately, Angel Salome, a great catching prospect is also unavailable, currently dealing with a mental health issue. So using Lucroy, who was batting very well in AAA wasn’t his preference even though he probably could have helped.

Funny enough, this is the first time this season the Brewers won when trailing after eight innings. We can’t get it done late in the game and the bench is part of the problem. We’ve just been so focused on our pitching problems that bench player injuries here and there have been making a few less waves than the Brewers’ bullpen.

On a lighter note, a former platoon player is hot again after a dismal Spring Training and April.  Corey Hart has twice the number of long balls in May (six) than he had in April and they are indeed going yard. One of his homers hit the third deck in Target Field this past weekend and that’s a first for Minnesota. He’s tied with Casey McGehee for the team lead in home runs now.

Prior to Thursday’s game against the Astros, Hart was batting .295 with six homers, 11 RBI’s, eight runs scored and his hair is even looking better.  Well, maybe not the hair part.

That’s a stark contrast from his .172, .221 OBP and 18 K’s in Arizona.  Spring Training was tough to swallow when Hart came to the plate.

Joe Inglett’s return is welcome.  Perhaps he can continue hitting the .341 average he enjoyed prior to Thursday. McGehee is still carrying weight with a .315 average, .377 OBP and .534 slugging average.

Fans seem to be pleased with John Axford’s performance as closer so far.  He earned his first win Thursday in that role. He throws in the upper 90’s but has some wild pitch tendencies.  Another option Macha has mentioned is Carlos Villanueva.  And there is of course the likelihood Trevor Hoffman will return once comfortable.

However, should we regain control over our closer(s), the bench still needs to have enough warm bodies to get the job done offensively.

What do you think? Are the Brewers playing the bench too thin?

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