MILWAUKEE -- Some players might have crossed their fingers behind their backs and said no. Keon Broxton looked straight ahead and said yes.Did seeing a teammate start out of position in Broxton's regular spot light a fire under the second-year center fielder?"I'd be lying if I said it didn't. It
MILWAUKEE -- Some players might have crossed their fingers behind their backs and said no. Keon Broxton looked straight ahead and said yes.
Did seeing a teammate start out of position in Broxton's regular spot light a fire under the second-year center fielder?
"I'd be lying if I said it didn't. It definitely does," said Broxton after hitting two of the Brewers' five home runs in Wednesday's 7-6 win over the Pirates at Miller Park. "I definitely feel like I want to be out there playing and helping the team."
Broxton was on the bench the day before when Jonathan Villar made his first career start in center field. Broxton got in the game as a pinch-hitter and hit a home run, then hit two more solo shots Wednesday to give him three homers in the span of four plate appearances, and 19 home runs this season.
Broxton remains Milwaukee's streakiest player. He started the season 5-for-42 with 21 strikeouts, then got hot for a stretch of 101 at-bats in late April and May in which he posted a .960 OPS. He slipped back into a 4-for-49, 23-strikeout slump from May 26-June 10, then surged again to a 1.257 OPS through the end of June.
But then he went ice cold yet again -- a 3-for-50, 22-strikeout funk that led the Brewers to demote Broxton to the Minor Leagues on July 22.
Broxton returned Aug. 1 and has been productive since, with five home runs this month -- including the pair on Wednesday. But Broxton was in a 3-for-17 stretch when Brewers manager Craig Counsell decided to start switch-hitter Villar in center field on Tuesday night.
"I think Keon's got a great attitude. He really does," Counsell said. "I think Keon is motivated by his desire to get better. That's always been his deal. I applaud him for that. He wants the team to win. He'll do whatever. He'll be the first guy cheering you on in the dugout if he's not playing. I think Keon is a guy who is a part of this and that's why he keeps getting chances, and he can impact the game."
Said Broxton: "If I'm not doing it at that time, I have to be respectful of what Counsell wants. So it does [bother me to lose playing time], but at the end of the day, I know I have a goal every day, and that's just to get better and be the best that I can to help the team."
Broxton will continue to get chances, Counsell said. He is more important to the team than ever, with the news Tuesday that top Brewers prospect Lewis Brinson is sidelined four to six weeks with a strained left hamstring. Brinson has also seen time in center field for the Brewers this season.
"[Broxton's bat] can disappear for a little while, as he's gone through some dry spells this year, but it can also be really impactful," Counsell said. "Obviously, today he was really impactful. [Tuesday] night he was impactful. When you can impact games like that, you keep getting chances."
Said Broxton: "It's a grind. That's for everyone playing baseball. But yeah, it's fun. That's a roller coaster I'm willing to ride."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.