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Brewers notes, 10/16

October 16, 2011

Selectivity the reason for Prince’s mini slump

MILWAUKEE — Prince Fielder went 3-for-6 with two home runs, three RBIs and no strikeouts in Games 1 and 2 of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park. He went 1-for-10 with no RBIs and four strikeouts in three games after the series shifted to Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

It’s not because the Cardinals pitched him dramatically different, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.

“No, I don’t think they’ve changed the approach, I think Prince is getting a little bit big on his strike zone,” Roenicke said. “Prince is a guy that can carry a team. Prince feels like he needs to carry this team. He can. But what happens sometimes with that is you start to expand, and when you expand your zone, usually things don’t go well when you do that.”

Fielder’s worst night in the series came in the Brewers’ Game 5 loss on Friday night, when he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and did not walk for the first time in the NLCS.

“He’s been a guy — he walked [107 times] this year. That’s when Prince is good,” Roenicke said. “When Prince is up there and he’s taking a pitch that’s an inch off the plate, that’s when he’s really good. And I expect him to be doing that again. He may have a game or two that’s off, but I expect him to be right back on it again, and like I said, he can carry us.”

Roenicke: Starting Marcum the right decision

MILWAUKEE — Whatever the outcome of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was confident he had made “the right decision” in choosing Shaun Marcum to start.

Marcum, 0-2 with a 12.46 ERA in his first two postseason starts, got the nod in an elimination game over alternatives like right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who would have had to pitch on three days’ rest, and left-hander Chris Narveson, who has not started a game in the postseason.

“Believe me, you guys aren’t the only ones that are wondering about Marcum starting,” Roenicke said in a media briefing about three hours before game time. I’ve had questions from everybody, it seems like.

“I feel really good about this decision. Whether he pitches well tonight or whether he gets hit a little bit, this is the right decision. For this ballclub, it’s the right decision. And I’ve had many conversations with a lot of people in this organization that have been with us all year. This is definitely the right decision.

“It doesn’t mean that he’s going to go out and have a great game. I expect him to. I think he’s definitely capable of doing it. He has not liked the way he’s pitched the last couple of games, and I think he’s going to have a good game today.”

Marcum was one of the Brewers’ best pitchers during the regular season, going 13-7 with a 3.54 ERA. He delivered 20 quality starts, and his .232 opponents’ batting average was eighth best in the NL.

Marcum allowed four runs in the first inning and was replaced by left-hander Chris Narveson to start the second.

Morgan keeping quiet during NLCS struggles

MILWAUKEE — Tony Hush is back.

Despite delivering one of the biggest hits in Brewers history in Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the D-backs, center fielder Nyjer Morgan has been struggling throughout the postseason. Along with the struggles has come Morgan’s quiet, reserved alter ego, Hush.

Over four days and three games in St. Louis, the usually extroverted Morgan declined interviews with reporters on several occasions. Even upon returning to Milwaukee on Saturday, he was not willing to talk during the Brewers’ workout day.

The question Sunday was whether Morgan made the decision to stay quiet during the NL Championship Series, or if his manager talked to him about it.

“I didn’t tell him that,” said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. “We talked about it after we got into the series just a little bit. He needs to stay focused on what he is doing and not worry about all the outside stuff that goes on once in a while with him. But no, I didn’t have to have that conversation.”

Morgan’s struggles forced Roenicke’s hand in St. Louis, as he started veteran Mark Kotsay in center field in Game 3 and Carlos Gomez there in Game 5.

Roenicke also had a talk with Morgan, who is batting just .192 (5-for-26) with two runs scored and three RBIs in the postseason entering Sunday.

“He’s been pressing a little bit. He’s trying to do too much,” Roenicke said. “And I try to remind him that what he’s done for us all year is what we need. We don’t need him to be more than what he’s been. We need him to be what he’s done for us.”

NLCS has been all about play on the field

MILWAUKEE — Heading into the National League Championship Series, a lot of talk centered around the apparent dislike between the Brewers and Cardinals. Despite the high stakes, the potential for that dislike to overshadow the play on the field was there.

Add in comments from Zack Greinke about how the Brewers “don’t like” Chris Carpenter, and warnings issued to the benches in the first inning of Game 1, tensions seemed to be high.

But as the series reaches its final games, the NLCS has been all about the play on the field, as it should be, considering a trip to the World Series is on the line.

“I think there are some fans, or media, that are going to be disappointed if there isn’t some crap flying this series, and that’s a shame,” said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said after Game 1. “I don’t want our players and their players to be egged on, and I don’t think they will [react]. We’re going to play as hard and good against each other as we can.”

Until he was asked about it Sunday afternoon, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke had not even thought about the lack of extracurricular issues.

But the lack of them has certainly made his job better and more enjoyable.

“That’s been great,” Roenicke said. “And I haven’t thought about it, and that’s because it hasn’t been going on.

“I enjoy playing baseball, I don’t enjoy all the little stuff that goes on outside. For me to have to address those things, it takes away from what I enjoy doing.”

Last call

• Manager Ron Roenicke said he was never tempted to move third baseman Jerry Hairston into the five-hole in place of second baseman Rickie Weeks, who batted .135 in the Brewers’ first 10 postseason games, including .211 in the first five games of the NLCS. Hairston entered Game 6 on Sunday hitting .371 this postseason.

“He’s not obviously a typical fifth hitter, but he’s done such a great job, I feel like I could put him anywhere in this lineup and he would hit,” Roenicke said. “But I also know that the way it’s structured, if everybody is swinging right, the way it’s structured is really good. I know I’m counting on guys to swing it.”

• Carlos Gomez made a change to turn the club’s fortunes after the Brewers’ Game 5 loss on Friday. He arrived at Miller Park for a workout on Saturday with a clean-shaven head.

• Both general manager Doug Melvin and Roenicke offered congratulations to the Rangers, who routed their way to the World Series with an American League Championship Series win over Detroit. Melvin was the Texas GM from 1994-2001 and drafted pitchers C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis (though Lewis bounced around in subsequent years, including a stint in Japan). Melvin also traded with then-Blue Jays GM Gord Ash for Michael Young, who has developed into one of the best players in Rangers history. Ash, of course, is now Melvin’s top assistant in Milwaukee.

The Rangers are in the World Series for the second straight year thanks to a 15-5 win over the Tigers on Saturday that swung in a nine-run third inning.

“I watched when they had that big one inning, and that’s all I probably needed to see,” Roenicke said. “Amazing.”

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at@AdamMcCalvyJordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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