ST. LOUIS -- So much for the Yunihawk.
A cold streak personally and for the team prompted Brewers infielder Yuniesky Betancourt to buzz the mohawk he had been sporting for several weeks, a superstitious bid for some better results. Since homering in three straight games starting April 29, Betancourt was hitting .154 with a .200 on-base percentage in 14 games entering play Saturday night. In his nine most recent games, he was 3-for-33 with no RBIs.
So, he got a haircut.
"Have to change something," Betancourt said.
Asked about the source of his sudden slump, Betancourt said, "I'm swinging too much at balls off of the zone. I feel a little off. The last days, I feel a little tired. But the last two days I feel much better. [I am] seeing the ball and I'm getting my timing back."
Betancourt has been serving as the Brewers' regular first baseman with Alex Gonzalez slumping and Corey Hart still rehabbing from right knee surgery. That arrangement will probably persist; manager Ron Roenicke said he knew of no plan to send Hart on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment before June 1.
Matchups to determine second base starter
ST. LOUIS -- The Brewers have tried leaving Rickie Weeks alone. They tried moving him down in the order. They tried giving him a day off. Now they may try something else.
"I'll pick some spots where I look at matchups and see if somebody else can go out there and get hot," manager Ron Roenicke said.
In other words, Weeks may become less of a lock for the starting lineup. One of those tough matchups was Saturday, when Weeks, 1-for-7 in previous at-bats against Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn, began the game on the bench. Jeff Bianchi started at second base instead.
"In my mind, I'm probably going to play Rick against the lefty [John Gast] tomorrow, but I don't know for sure," Roenicke said.
Weeks entered Saturday with a team-high 22 walks but was batting .176 with a .282 slugging percentage. He was 3-for-38 with men in scoring position, 0-for-18 with runners in scoring position and two outs, and 1-for-37 in "high leverage" at-bats, as defined by the website Baseball-Reference.com. He was 1.1 wins below replacement, per that same website, second-worst in the Majors to White Sox infielder Jeff Keppinger (-1.5 WAR), and right in the neighborhood of some other well-known players including the Tigers' Victor Martinez, the Braves' B.J. Upton and the White Sox's Paul Konerko.
Weeks reluctantly answered some questions Saturday afternoon about how he was feeling.
"Same old," he said. "Just working to get better, I guess."
What has he been working on?
"Just getting my swing right. That's the biggest thing right now," Weeks said.
What had been wrong with his swing?
"I don't think there's issues with it," Weeks said. "Probably timing and things like that. I think the timing's there [in batting practice]; it's just taking that into the game. …
"You try to teach yourself not to try to think so much, and take that to the game. You just want to worry about seeing the ball and hitting the ball, really. When you start worrying about getting your hands up and timing and stuff like that, you bring that into the game, that's when you get deeper and deeper into the hole. I'm trying to stay away from that."
Has he ever been through tough times like this?
"Life is hard sometimes. That's the way it is," Weeks said. "It just teaches you to become a man and become better than you usually are."
Roenicke still mulling over Narveson's role
ST. LOUIS -- A successful 40-pitch bullpen session Saturday pushed left-hander Chris Narveson another step closer to returning from a finger injury. But will he return to the Brewers' starting rotation or bullpen?
That remains an open question.
"I really haven't thought about it that much, other than trying to figure out our starters and where we're going with them," manager Ron Roenicke said. "Hopefully, we continue to get better in that area. If we don't we need to make some changes to our starting rotation. … I'm kind of 'one step at a time' with [Narveson]. When he's ready to go, then we'll see where we are with the rotation."
The rotation is all right-handed at the moment. The bullpen will have two lefties once Tom Gorzelanny returns from the DL in about a week. Gorzelanny is on track to throw a bullpen session on Sunday and will face hitters on Tuesday at Miller Park. He is eligible to return to action beginning May 23.
"I don't know that three left-handers in the bullpen really is ideal," Roenicke said.
Narveson, on the disabled list since April 8 with a sprained middle finger on his left hand, threw his full assortment of pitches on Saturday. He expects to throw a similar session early in the Brewers' upcoming homestand, followed by a simulated game, likely followed by a rehab assignment.
Narveson is open-minded about his role upon returning.
"I'm just trying to get healthy right now," he said. "I don't know what their plans are, but I'll be ready either way."
Roenicke might have tried Bianchi at second base sooner, but the infielder has been dealing with a stiff neck for the last 4-5 days, Roenicke said. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy had the same problem, and left fielder Ryan Braun has also been bothered by a stiff neck.
Roenicke avoids that issue by traveling with his own pillow.
"I have been for 10 years," he said. "I told those guys, go out and buy a cervical pillow and just pack it with you. Think about it: Every hotel room is different, they all have different pillows, and these guys, unfortunately, they can't afford to have a bad neck."