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Brewers notes, 10/10

October 10, 2011

After scare, Axford good to go for Brewers

MILWAUKEE — Brewers closer John Axford said he didn’t worry overnight about his availability for Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, but his manager did.

Axford was struck on the right forearm and hip by a line drive on the final play of Milwaukee’s Game 1 win. An X-ray after the game was negative, but Axford was not cleared for Monday’s Game 2 until he participated in an afternoon throwing session at Miller Park.

“I’m good to go,” Axford said. “There wasn’t any worry on my side. I knew after I got in there with the trainer and we took the precautionary X-ray, it was going to be OK.”

Axford threw a variety of pitches in the bullpen on Monday afternoon and checked out. That came as quite a relief to manager Ron Roenicke.

“I was concerned overnight that thing was going to swell up more and [he wouldn’t] be able to throw,” Roenicke said. “Last night, I was encouraged, though, when I left here by what [head athletic trainer] Roger [Caplinger] had to say about it. And Ax was feeling pretty good, too.

“I knew it was hit hard, and it looked like it hit him somewhere around the arm. I saw it right away; it got him pretty good. Very happy to see that he’s OK today.”

Axford’s save was his second in the postseason, to go with a club record 46 in the regular season, tied with Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel for the most in the NL. Axford had converted 44 consecutive saves, including his first in the postseason, before surrendering the tying run in Game 5 of the NL Division Series against the D-backs.

Prince shows off his defensive skills

MILWAUKEE — Whether they’re towering fly balls or screaming line drives, Prince Fielder is best known for hitting home runs. But he showed Sunday he could play a little defense, too.

With no outs and a runner on second in the top of the fifth, Fielder made an impressive diving stop, robbing Jon Jay of a hit and a likely RBI.

“Anytime I can help on defense, it is good,” Fielder said. “I’m not the greatest defender, by any means, but anytime I can help on both sides of the ball, it’s good. Because sometimes you’re not going to hit, so you’ve got to pick it up on defense.”

Of course, with his go-ahead two-run homer in the bottom half of the inning, Fielder reminded everyone of what he could do with the bat as well.

But considering how much more often Fielder hits big home runs, the diving stop was more impressive. Thanks to his diving stop, the Brewers and starter Zack Greinke managed to escape the fifth inning with just one run scoring, keeping the game within three runs.

“I think sometimes people underestimate his athleticism and his defense,” said left fielder Ryan Braun. “He’s made a lot of good plays for us this year.

“That’s a big play in that situation, especially when you’re headed for [Albert] Pujols, [Lance] Berkman and [Matt] Holliday. The least amount of guys on base possible for them is certainly advantageous for us.”

Nursing hand injury, Hawkins now available

MILWAUKEE — It’s been more than a week since LaTroy Hawkins last pitched, as a result of a hand injury suffered in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.

But with Hawkins being a relief pitcher, the injury went unnoticed by everyone other than the Brewers as he missed four games.

“You guys finally figured it out,” Hawkins said when asked about the injury Monday afternoon. “It’s old news now for me.”

A liner off the bat of D-backs catcher Miguel Montero caught Hawkins on his right hand, and the pain in his fingers prevented him from pitching. He has been available for the last two games, but just has not been used.

Said manager Ron Roenicke: “He’s back on track now where we don’t need to try to stay away from him anymore.”

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