Phoenix - With the big bat of Prince Fielder missing from the middle of the Milwaukee Brewers' batting order, manager Ron Roenicke is planning to run a bit more this season and try to create some runs.
"I'd like to be a little more creative in what we do," Roenicke said Friday. "It's all about how you manufacture runs. Without Prince in the lineup, we need to do some things to maybe make up for his loss.
"That has nothing to do with Aramis (Ramirez) not doing what I think he's going to do. I'm very comfortable with him being the No. 4 hitter; I think he's an outstanding hitter.
"I think even last year we could have done more; we could have manufactured more runs. If we can do it, we're going to try to. Then we'll see how it goes. If we're running into too many outs and I don't like what's going on, then I'll rein them back a little bit." The Brewers begin exhibition play Sunday against the San Francisco Giants and Roenicke said he will use those games to see how far he can push the running game without getting too crazy.
"Spring training is a good test for them to see what they can do, how far we can go with being aggressive," said Roenicke.
"You don't worry so much about making mistakes in spring training.
"But if they don't make mistakes here and you ask them to push things in the season, they're not going to do it. They did a great job last (spring). I just want them to continue to do what they did last year." Roenicke made it clear he won't be holding a track meet because other than Carlos Gomez he doesn't have a lot of blazing speed on his squad.
"For me to come out and say we're going to steal bases this year, that's not going to happen," he said.
"But the guys we do have, they're smart enough to know if a pitcher is not paying attention to them and we can gain some advantage there, they can take a few bags and make the pitcher worry about them, also. Anytime a pitcher is worried about a guy at first base, he's not going to be as good to home. I think that's important." Roenicke said he expected a bit more running from certain players, such as Corey Hart, who swiped seven bases in 13 attempts in 2011.
"I think he's quicker now than when I saw him last year," said Roenicke. "His footwork is better; he worked on a lot of things in the off-season.
I like what I see. He also would like to run more. He knows he didn't do it last year.
"He's not the guy he was five years ago as far as speed. But he's a smart base-runner; he's got good instincts." Hart said he lost much of his aggressiveness on the bases under previous manager Ken Macha, who abhorred making outs on the bases.
"Not to throw Macha under the bus, but I'll throw Macha under the bus," said Hart. "He told me, really, not to run. He told a lot of guys not to run. You get away from it for two years. you lose it, and it's just kind of hard to figure out how to get it back.
"Last year (Roenicke) was like, 'You guys be aggressive,' and we wanted to be aggressive, but we were stuck. They giveyouthegreenlightandit's almost like the panic button. This year I'm hoping we'll do it alittlebitmorethanlastyear." Roenicke said Rickie Weeks probably wouldn't run as much as maybe earlier in his career because he has gotten so much bigger and stronger.
"I don't know how much weight he has gained since he came up to the big leagues but he's huge," said Roenicke. "It's a way different body." Gettingfirstdibs:Inthefirst exhibition game, Roenicke will send left-hander Randy Wolf to the mound first, then right-hander Zack Greinke, giving two starters work before splitting them later.
"Wolfie is a veteran; he's got a little more pull than Zack, I guess," Roenicke said with a smile. "Zack didn't mind and Wolfie wanted to start it." Left-hander Chris Narveson will start Monday night (8:35 p.m. start) against the Giants in Scottsdale, a game that is being telecast live by MLB Network.
Right-hander Yovani Gallardo goes in the third game Tuesday against Oakland.
Business as usual: The Brewers will have their annual spring meeting with union executive director Michael Weiner and his staff Sunday morning.
Narveson, the team's union representative, said he didn't expect the Ryan Braun drug-testing saga to be a topic on the agenda.
"I'd say probably not," said Narveson. "I'm sure it will be the same thing (Weiner) has said in every clubhouse. I talked to Michael earlier and he said he was going to give his normal spiel. I don't think what he says to us will be any different." So far, so good: Former Brewers infielder Craig Counsell is two weeks into his role as a special instructor in spring training while also doing onthe-job training in his official role as special assistant to general manager Doug Melvin. "I'm really enjoying it; I really am," he said. "When the games start, I'm going to watch our team, probably watch other teams. It's not really defined yet. I'm just helping where I can.
"I'm also trying to take part whenever there's stuff I can learn on the front-office side, in meetings or whatever. It's all new to me so it's very interesting.
I'm listening a lot; I've been writing a lot of stuff down." K-Rod coming up: Francisco Rodriguez is one of four pitchers scheduled to throw live batting practice Saturday.
Rodriguez, the Brewers' setup man, has been behind other pitchers because he arrived a few days late after tending to some personal business in Venezuela.
It will be his first live action in spring training after throwing several bullpen sessions. "I played winter ball, so I'm not that far away," Rodriguez said.
Also scheduled to throw are Zach Braddock, Cody Scarpetta and Jed Bradley.
Braddock has been behind due to a stomach virus, Scarpetta due to having his wisdom teeth removed and Bradley a left-groin strain.
Copyright 2012, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)
Copyright, 2012, Journal Sentinel, All Rights Reserved.