Aoki savors spot as Brewers' home run leader
MILWAUKEE -- Norichika Aoki did not need his translator to answer the first question on Tuesday:
Would he have picked himself to hit the Brewers' first home run of the season?
"No," Aoki said with a big smile.
"I would have never bet on me," he added, through translator Kosuke Inaji.
Yet there was Aoki atop the Brewers' leaderboard, his third-inning solo home run the team's only homer in its extra-inning victory over the Rockies on Opening Day.
It came off Jhoulys Chacin, the same Rockies right-hander who surrendered Aoki's first Major League home run last April 20. The difference was that Monday's cleared the fence. Last year's was of the inside-the-park variety.
Aoki went on to hit 10 home runs last season, and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke thinks his leadoff man will top that total in 2013. Aoki, a three-time batting champion in Japan, hit as many as 20 home runs for the Yakult Swallows in 2007, and he reported to Spring Training this year a bit more bulked-up. He said the goal was to hit the ball harder to the gaps -- not necessarily to clear more fences.
Does he think he'll top 10 homers this year?
"I can't really say," Aoki said. "I'd like to, but my primary focus is getting on base, because our real home run hitters are the guys behind me."