ST. LOUIS -- For the first time since the event moved to Milwaukee's downtown Convention Center, the Brewers' annual offseason fan festival will be free of charge.
As part of a series of initiatives aimed at compensating fans for a difficult season on and off the field, the club announced Wednesday that it would not charge admission for Brewers On Deck, which is already set for Sunday, Jan. 26 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. CT at the Wisconsin Center. The event, which typically carries a $9-$20 cost, bridges the gap between Wisconsin's winter and the start of Brewers Spring Training in Phoenix.
"As another way to say 'thank you' to our fans for their incredible support this year, we wanted to do something very special as we head into the 2014 campaign," Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger said. "We are committed to delivering the best fan experience possible, both at Miller Park and in our off-site events, and we expect that free admission to Brewers On Deck will be very popular."
The announcement was part of a series of "Fans First" initiatives unveiled by the Brewers since outfielder Ryan Braun was suspended by Major League Baseball in late July. Throughout August the team provided $10 vouchers to every fan who passed through the turnstiles at Miller Park, good for free concessions, merchandise and game tickets.
Brewers On Deck features autographs and photo sessions with Brewers players and coaches, interactive games for kids, question-and-answer sessions and game shows, vendor booths with baseball memorabilia, the Brewers Community Foundation Treasure Hunt and other activities.
The Brewers will announce details for the autograph sessions at a later date. Last week, Schlesinger said the team was in the preliminary planning stages, and he did not yet know whether Braun would be in attendance.
Roenicke: Struggling Segura will continue to play
ST. LOUIS -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and veteran third baseman Aramis Ramirez agree: There is value in letting young shortstop Jean Segura play out his first full season in the Major Leagues, even if it continues to cost him points on his batting average.
For the first time since Opening Day, Segura woke up Wednesday morning with a batting average below .300. His rising ground-ball rate and falling average -- from .354 at the end of May to .317 at the end of July to .299 after Tuesday -- suggest fatigue. Roenicke said Segura will continue to play.
"If I feel like he's fighting through it, then he's not going to play as much, but when I have conversations with him, he still says he's fine," Roenicke said. "I think that we've got a better chance of winning when he's out there.
"And when I say winning -- winning is always important no matter where you are [in the standings], whether you're 20 games out or one game out. And it's just not for numbers, it's maybe for the starting pitcher who has really been battling and a win could just really jump his progression, or just making a play behind him defensively because [Segura] is so good. Or we're playing a contending team that when he's out of the lineup, other teams are like, 'Why isn't he playing?' Those are all the things that go into why you keep him out there -- as long as he feels good and he tells me he's fine to go."
Asked about Segura's numbers, Roenicke said, "I don't know if he's tired or just in a funk with the bat."
Ramirez thinks he knows.
"He looks a little tired right now," Ramirez said. "He's played a lot. He's only 23, but I'm sure he's pretty tired. He's had a lot of at-bats in a year. I never did winter ball like he did and got as many at-bats as he has."
Ramirez has tried to help Segura with the adjustment to the grueling Major League schedule.
"This is a learning experience," Ramirez said. "You have to pace yourself. You have to cut down on your [batting practice] and your cage work, maybe do a little more in the weight room to stay stronger during the season. I learned a lot from Moises [Alou] and Sammy [Sosa] going about their business in Chicago. You can't go out there and wear yourself out every single day.
"I talked to [Segura] a little about it earlier. But now that he's struggling, he wants to do more in the cage, more in early BP. But you can't do that. You're going to wear yourself out, especially when it's 95 [degrees] out there. It's all a learning experience for him."
• Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was much more encouraged Wednesday about the health of outfielder Khris Davis, who tested his sore left wrist by swinging in the batting cage and will do the same on Thursday. If that session goes well, Davis could play the series finale against the Cardinals Thursday, Roenicke said.
"I want him active when he can swing," Roenicke said.
• The Brewers will give away a 2014 Chevy Cruze LS and other prizes on Fan Appreciation Night presented by Chevrolet at Miller Park on Saturday, Sept. 21, against the Cardinals. That is the next-to-last game of the season. All fans in attendance will receive a 2013 team photo and a 2014 magnetic schedule. For additional information, visit Brewers.com/fanappreciation.