What was an injury-plagued, disjointed spring has carried over and become an injury-plagued, disjointed start to the season for the Milwaukee Brewers. On the mound, John Axford has already been removed from the closer's role in favor of Jim Henderson, many of the other relievers in the Brewers' reworked bullpen are struggling in undefined roles, and the starting rotation - with the exception of the last two outings - has failed to work deep into games. On offense, the team has been functioning without a true cleanup hitter since Aramis Ramirez went to the disabled list with a sprained knee. Ryan Braun and Jean Segura have missed games with neck and leg problems, respectively. Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez and Alex Gonzalez are off to slow starts. It all adds up to a 2-6 start, and things won't get any easier this weekend, either, with a three-game series against the rival St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. "It's been quite chaotic, I think, early in the season," Braun said in the wake of Wednesday's postponement at Wrigley Field. The outlook improved a bit with Braun and Segura returning to the lineup and Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta each pitching deep into the last two games. Still, the Brewers managed to go just 1-1 against a Chicago Cubs team expected to finish last again in the National League Central. The lasting impression of the series might well be John Axford's latest outing Tuesday in which he loaded the bases in the eighth inning to set the stage for a Cubs comeback victory, encapsulating what has been a horrible start for the former Rolaids Relief Man of the Year. But there was plenty of blame to go around in that one, starting with the offense's inability to jump on Chicago starter Travis Wood for any more than three runs after hitting him hard early, and reliever Michael Gonzalez allowing Anthony Rizzo to tie the game with a two-out double in the seventh inning. Even simple things like trying to fill out a lineup card are challenging these days with so many moving parts. Manager Ron Roenicke consulted with bench coach Jerry Narron, third-base coach Ed Sedar and hitting coach Johnny Narron before Wednesday's postponement to try to figure out what would work best. "It's not just the bullpen," Roenicke said. "It's like making out the lineup (Wednesday). Who am I playing at third? Who am I playing at first? Who am I catching? I don't know. So it's scrambling in the pitching end, and also on the other end. "Some of it's because of the injuries, and some of it is because I don't ever want to say, 'OK, this is our team and we're going with this, win or lose, no matter how long.' I don't ever want to say that, because I think there's times you need to change things."
Injuries, poor pitching create challenges for Ron Roenicke
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Apr 12