Broxton takes baby steps in Brewers loss

April 21st, 2017

MILWAUKEE -- 's "best night of the season," as Brewers manager Craig Counsell called it, came at just the right time.

Broxton snapped an 0-for-18 drought with a second-inning triple, then walked in the sixth to represent a bright spot in the Brewers' 6-3 loss to the Cardinals at Miller Park on Friday, the same day the team cut ties with its other center fielder, . The roster move reinforced what Counsell said the other day: The Brewers are committed to letting Broxton play through his early-season funk.

"He's an important player. A very important player," Counsell said. "You put him and [shortstop] Orlando [Arcia] together, they're playing very high-level defense, and we need them to provide production at the bottom of the lineup right now. Those two guys are very important players.

"It's good to see him take one step forward tonight, for sure."

Broxton, who struck out 12 times during his hitless streak and owns a .133/.220/.267 slash line through 45 at-bats, credited another mechanical adjustment, though not as dramatic as the change he made with his hands last season before a breakthrough August and September.

This time, it was his position in the batter's box.

"I backed off the plate a little, and that's been a significant change in the way I see the ball," Broxton said. "I was a little bit too close and the balls were just getting on me and jamming me. So I backed off a little bit, I've been able to recognize the pitches, and it's just worked out."

Did he need that hit?

"It's really not about the hits," Broxton said. "It's just finding a comfort zone in the box and being able to recognize pitches and lay off pitches I've been swinging at, and squaring up balls. That's what happened tonight; I was able to lay off a lot of pitches I was usually swinging at. I saw the ball a lot better, and I was able to put good wood on the ball.

"That's the main goal in the box. It's not really about getting hits, it's about having good at-bats and squaring the ball up. I'm glad I was able to get back to that tonight, and I'll try to continue it tomorrow."

The Brewers designated Nieuwenhuis for assignment earlier Friday to clear a spot for a reliever, . With Nieuwenhuis out, the Brewers backup center fielder is , who before last season had never played the position.

It was a sign the Brewers are committed to Broxton, who turns 27 on May 7.

"It's definitely a boost in confidence," he said. "It makes me feel a bit more comfortable that they have faith in me throughout the struggles, and it puts a fire under me to get going, too. If this is my job, I don't want to be out here struggling the entire season."