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Corey Hart admittedly has never been a hitter who draws too many walks.

The Milwaukee Brewers' right fielder had 27 last season, 36 the year before and 17 in 2006 in a less regular role. And that's why the fact that Hart worked two free passes in each of the first two games of the series with the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park was so noteworthy.

"You always try to do things better, and that's one thing I've been trying to do better, which I think will make me a better player," said Hart, who's been Milwaukee's regular No. 2 hitter so far.

And the Brewers as a team have been showing improved plate discipline. They're still striking out frequently - Milwaukee's 50 punchouts entering Sunday night's series finale ranked third in the National League. But the Brewers had drawn 25 walks entering the game - an average of five per game, compared to last season's 3.4 mark.

First-year Milwaukee manager Ken Macha came from the Oakland organization, one known for its emphasis on on-base percentage. Hart said Macha "put a few pointers in there, but he said, 'Don't change approaches. Do what you do best.' "

But Hart, who thinks he'll walk more batting second, said everyone on the club was already well aware that they needed to improve their plate discipline as a group.

Hart walked in the ninth inning of Friday's home opener to bring left fielder Ryan Braun to the plate, and second baseman Rickie Weeks scored the winning run on Braun's grounder to shortstop. And Hart walked and scored on shortstop J.J. Hardy's single in the seventh inning Saturday night.

"Obviously it's a work in progress," Hart said. "Some days you're going to do it better than others, but that's one of the things we're trying to do better as a team."

The Brewers struck out 10 times and received four walks Sunday. Hart fanned twice and did not have any walks.

Backup plan

Macha employed several backups Sunday against Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, who was 4-0 with a 2.40 ERA against Milwaukee last season.

Macha inserted Craig Counsell at third base in place of Bill Hall and batted him second - Hart dropped from second to sixth - and used Chris Duffy in center field instead of Mike Cameron.

"I want to make sure I keep the bench involved," Macha said. "Duffy's got four at-bats off this guy, he's got a couple hits. I wanted to get a few more left-handers in there, so Counsell's playing."

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 15, 2009

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