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THROWN A CURVE


THROWN A CURVE
The Milwaukee Brewers' response to pitcher Jeff Suppan's early-season struggles is to bump his next start back one day.

Suppan, who's allowed 11 earned runs in 7 2 3 innings in two losses, had been slotted to start Saturday against the New York Mets. Instead, he'll flip-flop with Yovani Gallardo and go Sunday in New York.

Brewers manager Ken Macha met with Suppan Tuesday, two days after he issued three bases-loaded walks in a disastrous fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs, and told him the plan.

"It wasn't really a big issue," said Suppan, Milwaukee's opening day starter. "It was just, this is what they were thinking about doing and I said, 'No problem.' "

By backing up Suppan's start by a day, it will give him two extra days off between starts, because the Brewers have a travel day Thursday. That will allow Suppan, who usually throws two side sessions between starts, a chance to add in another short one.

Suppan was asked how the change could benefit him.

"There's many ways," said Suppan, who has issued seven walks to two strikeouts so far. "Specifically, you get an extra day of rest. For me, I'm working on throwing through the glove and that will give me an extra day of getting back to what I normally do that I haven't been doing the last two starts."

And Macha said he's confident Suppan will indeed get back to demonstrating the control he's shown over the course of his career. Over the past five seasons, Suppan averaged just more than two walks per start.

"It's only been two starts," Macha said. "It's not like other people haven't had two bad starts in a row. We're trying to get him back to pitching like his history dictates."

Weeks OK, but doesn't start

Second baseman Rickie Weeks wasn't in the lineup a day after taking a fastball to the face, Instead, veteran Craig Counsell batted leadoff and played second.

But Macha said it was a planned day off, and that Weeks could have played - he grounded into a double play as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. Weeks was hit by Reds starter Edinson Volquez in the fourth inning Monday night, but remained in the game and went 1-for-4.

"He could play the rest of the game and he was fine," Macha said. "But I had planned on giving him the day off anyhow."

It could have been much worse for Weeks.

"I was nervous running out there and the catcher was calling me out there," Macha said. "He wasn't moving when I got there. But he said he was fine."

Weeks has already been hit three times this season and 62 times in his career.

"He hangs in there," Macha said. "Good hitters hang in there. Good hitters get hit by pitches a lot."

Odd man out

Macha said he met with reserve infielder Casey McGehee , who's gotten only three pinch-hit at-bats.

McGehee made the club with an outstanding spring in which he had 61 at-bats in 27 games. He was an everyday player during his time in the Cubs' farm system.

That's obviously not the case now. There aren't too many logical spots for Macha to use McGehee, either.

He can play third and second base, but the starters at those positions - Bill Hall and Weeks - are right-handed hitters as well.

Prince Fielder doesn't figure to get too many days off at first base, and Counsell was hitting .429 and has been the top infield option off the bench.

"Out of all the players, he's the one who's going to be the toughest to get the at-bats," Macha said. "... Sometimes pieces don't all fit perfectly."


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 16, 2009

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