Notes: Yost looks to turn things around
Manager meets with team after Verlander's no-hitter
DETROIT -- After a sleepless night and a closed-door meeting with many of his veteran players, Brewers manager Ned Yost shot back at those who believe the National League Central leaders are taking their recent slump lightly."Complacency is not a problem," Yost said. "These guys understand and know that we could be putting great distance between us and the teams behind us. They're trying to do it. "It's just beyond me that people think they're out there, happy-go-lucky, don't care if they win or lose. That's not the case. You think anybody likes going through what they're going through?" The Brewers had lost 20 of their last 30 games through Tuesday, when they were held hitless by Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander at Comerica Park. It was the low point of a stretch in which the team has scored three or fewer runs in 18 of those 30 games, a somewhat astounding drop-off for a team that owned the best record in Major League Baseball (24-10) on May 10. "I think a lot of us are pressing a little bit right now, trying to get it back," Yost said. "It makes it more difficult because this game is meant to be played relaxed. You allow your natural ability to take over and you play the game successfully." Among the players who gathered in Yost's office Wednesday afternoon were position players Craig Counsell, Johnny Estrada Tony Graffanino, Geoff Jenkins, Kevin Mench and Damian Miller, and pitchers Francisco Cordero and Ben Sheets. Also present was 23-year-old first baseman Prince Fielder, a sign of Fielder's stature on the team. Fielder said he doesn't think the Brewers are pressing. "I think we have too many veteran guys -- especially guys who have won World Series -- to do that," he said. So what can they do? "If I knew what the problem was, I would have probably told the team by now so they could fix it," Fielder said. "All we can do is keep playing, see what happens. ... It's never one thing. That's the way things are going. If it was the same thing over and over again, you can usually make an adjustment." Silver lining: While losing 20 of 30, the Brewers had lost one game on the rest of the division. They were in first place by 6 1/2 games on May 9 after sweeping the Nationals, and entered play Wednesday with a 5 1/2 game lead. "It's inconceivable to me that it could happen," Yost said. "It doesn't matter right now, in the middle of June, that we're in first place because we're not playing like a first-place team. There's no fun in that. It doesn't feel like we're in first place. We're looking at ways to play winning baseball again." The high point came May 12, when the Brewers beat the Mets to move eight games ahead of the rest of the division. "We're all a little bit frustrated," Yost said. "But I think we all have a faith in each other that we're going to get back to playing winning baseball. There's no doubt in my mind that we are." On second thought: The team appeared to reverse course on Wednesday on injured second baseman Rickie Weeks, deciding against a Minor League rehabilitation assignment when he is healthy enough to return. Weeks, sidelined by soreness in his surgically repaired right wrist, took early batting practice on Wednesday, his first action on the field since going on the disabled list. He is eligible to be activated on Thursday, but more likely will continue taking batting practice before a possible simulated game on Saturday in Minneapolis, said Yost, who had yet to make the final arrangements with the team's athletic trainers. Other players who had the same procedure as Weeks -- in which a "loose tendon" near the base of his right thumb was put back in place -- typically experience intermittent soreness for up to a year as scar tissue breaks up. "So why waste bullets down [in the Minors] that you could waste here?" Yost said. "[Weeks will get] maybe 100 or 150 at-bats, so why waste 10-12 of them there when you can use them here?" Weeks said he took "four or five rounds" of seven to 10 swings each. How did it go?
"Kind of weird, but good," said Weeks, who was drenched in sweat after his session. "I don't want to ease back into anything. I try to go out there full-force, try to get some hacks in and try to feel good."Yost reiterated that he is mulling where to bat Weeks when he returns, but is leaning toward re-installing him as the leadoff hitter. Last call: Estrada lingered in Yost's office after the rest of the players left. Estrada, who started Wednesday as the designated hitter as a kind of "half-day off," was hitting .229 (22-for-96) since May 11. ... Yost defended his decision to leave third baseman Ryan Braun out of Tuesday's lineup, saying he wanted to give Braun a needed day off while sparing him the tough test against Verlander. "Especially with young players, it's done everywhere," Yost said. ... The Brewers had no imminent plans to promote top pitching prospect Yovani Gallardo, Yost said before the game. But that was before left-handed starter Chris Capuano was scratched with a left groin strain and replaced by reliever Carlos Villanueva. Should Capuano need time, the Brewers would have to decide between Villanueva or Gallardo for that spot in the rotation. ... Players were still talking about Verlander's historic no-hitter. Fielder was among the Brewers who watched the Tigers celebrate the feat. "It was pretty cool to see," said Fielder, who lingered in the on-deck circle as Verlander was mobbed by his teammates. "I told [teammate Tony Gwynn, Jr.], 'Good for him.' I'm happy for Verlander. It's a pretty big deal to be able to throw a no-hitter. You can't be mad, you just have to tip your cap."
On deck: Ben Sheets is scheduled to start for the Brewers when they finish their three-game series in Detroit on Thursday at 12:05 p.m. CT. Righty Chad Durbin will start for the Tigers.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.