Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 7/9/13
MILWAUKEE -- Ron Roenicke has an unflappable personality. He never gets too high after a winning streak, doesn't show negative emotions when things aren't going well. It's a very desirable trait in a manager. But just because the skipper of the Milwaukee Brewers has an even keel personality doesn't mean this season hasn't weighed on him. Sitting at 36-52, the Brewers are in last place in their division with only the stripped down and rebuilding Miami Marlins worse than them in the National League. Hit hard by injuries at key positions and by inconsistent play, Roenicke's job as manager has been a difficult one this season. With Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez -- Milwaukee's No. 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup -- spending significant time on the disabled list and No. 5 hitter Corey Hart out for the season, Roenicke and the Brewers have missed out on a significant amount of production. It's easy to fill out a lineup every day when a team has everyone healthy and playing well, but Roenicke finds himself having to figure out who's healthy enough to play before even considering match-ups. The Brewers have used 62 different starting lineups in 88 games this season, a staggering number. "I don't know how many different lineups I've had," Roenicke said. "I can't remember putting the same lineup out two days in a row." Known as a mad scientist type, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon usually has a high number of different lineups, but he does it for an entirely different reason than Roenicke. "He does it because of match-ups and platoons," Roenicke said. "I'm doing it out of necessity. He's doing it out of choice." Because of the mix-matching, plugging of holes and an inconsistent starting rotation, the Brewers have been a frustrating group in 2013. Nobody knows this more than Roenicke. Unlike his first two seasons at the helm, Roenicke's squad hasn't been able to find its groove outside of a nine-game winning streak in April. "We certainly want to be a good team and a team that's consistent for a while," Roenicke said. "That's what we've been missing. We'll have a couple of good games and then really play a couple of bad games. Then have a bad series and then a pretty good series. "With everybody healthy, we're a good team. But with the injuries that we have we still feel like we should be playing a lot better baseball than what we are. In order to do that, the consistency is just all over the place. From game to game, we don't know how we're going to play. It is frustrating." It's the times when the Brewers don't play good baseball and make mental mistakes that drive Roenicke crazy. Between physical errors, base running blunders and mental mistakes, Milwaukee has played its share of ugly games. "At times, it's hard to watch," Roenicke said. "There are times I can't believe we're playing that poorly. Thank goodness you play every day and you don't see it the next day, so that's a good thing. If we lose and we're playing good baseball, I'm OK with that. You're not always going to play a good game and win." As hard as it's been for Roenicke to make out a lineup each day, keeping the starting rotation in order might have been a more difficult challenge for the manager in the first half. With some starting pitchers on the disabled list and others struggling to find consistency, Roenicke has had to piece together a five-man staff at times. He's been forced to give multiple spot starts to relievers Alfredo Figaro, Donovan Hand and Tom Gorzelanny. Even what's thought to be a minor hamstring injury for right-hander Wily Peralta forced Roenicke into scramble mode. Unable to pitch Sunday, Peralta had to be replaced, so Roenicke had Gorzelanny make a spot start, losing a valuable reliever in the process. "It hasn't been (fun)," Roenicke said. "The injuries, though some of them haven't been major, it's still trying to piece in. You bump Wily, you put a reliever in to start for him and that takes a toll on your bullpen because now you are missing the long guy." The Brewers' offense have been forced to overcome the loss of their entire middle of the lineup for an extended period of time. Though Ramirez has been on the field since May, he's clearly not healthy, and Roenicke has had to monitor his playing time. Milwaukee finally decided to put Ramirez on the disabled list to use the All-Star break to try and get its cleanup hitter as healthy as possible for the second half. The decision wasn't easy and certainly was something tough to do earlier in the season with other key pieces out. "He's hitting fourth in our lineup," Roenicke said. "Who can we replace that with? Then, trying to figure out if we're better off with the presence he gives us in the lineup in that spot. I know if you look at numbers you may say it would have been better to rest him but we didn't know that. We didn't know coming into this what kind of production we would get out of him. We were hoping we could still get quite a bit, knowing that he wasn't 100 percent." A lot of what's went wrong with the Brewers this season have been things Roenicke can't control. Though he's kept his cool in the public spotlight, Roenicke has been bothered deeply with the product on the field in the first half. As rare as can be in Major League Baseball, the Brewers took a full infield practice before Monday's game against Cincinnati. After spring training, teams almost never take an infield practice during the season, but Roenicke ordered one because he's sick of the sloppy play. Braun's activation from the disabled list Monday is the first step in the Brewers regaining some sort of continuity in their lineup and starting rotation. Ramirez is likely going to be bothered by knee pain all season long, but a disabled list stint over the All-Star break may help him return to the lineup sooner rather than later. "What we are hoping for in this second half (is) that we can get this thing straightened out to where we know what the lineup is going to be, and we know what the rotation is going to be," Roenicke said. Follow Andrew Gruman on Twitter
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