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Aguilar welcomes break ahead of stretch run

Brewers' breakout slugger given day off; Thames in lineup
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

CHICAGO -- Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar is a big man at 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds -- big enough to admit when he needs a breather.

Homerless and held to two RBIs through nine games in September, Aguilar conceded a break was in order Wednesday to recharge ahead of Milwaukee's 15 remaining regular-season games. He will be back in the lineup Friday night against the Pirates at Miller Park.

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CHICAGO -- Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar is a big man at 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds -- big enough to admit when he needs a breather.

Homerless and held to two RBIs through nine games in September, Aguilar conceded a break was in order Wednesday to recharge ahead of Milwaukee's 15 remaining regular-season games. He will be back in the lineup Friday night against the Pirates at Miller Park.

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"I mean, it's been a long season for me, and to rest a little bit is going to be good. Especially mentally," Aguilar said. "I've got a lot of stuff going on right now. I think it's going to be all right for me. I mean, I kind of need it a little bit."

Manager Craig Counsell explained the decision to sit Aguilar for the start of Wednesday's critical series finale against the Cubs as twofold. One, with right-hander Kyle Hendricks on the mound for Chicago, it was an opportunity to take a shot at some production from lefty-swinging Eric Thames, who was slashing .160/.213/.333 in 75 at-bats since the All-Star break. His role has been diminished by Aguilar's breakthrough season, but Thames has a penchant for hit streaks, and was one of Milwaukee's most potent hitters last September.

Two, it gave Aguilar at least a partial day off ahead of Thursday's open date for the team.

"He plays winter ball every season, but this baseball becomes a little more draining; I think we can all agree on that," Counsell said. "So yeah, it's different for him."

Aguilar said this season "for sure" has been a learning process. A part-time player for the Brewers a season ago, he entered Wednesday at 500 plate appearances, with career highs across the board, including team highs for home runs (31) and RBIs (97) with an .892 OPS.

"Especially when you come to Spring Training and you don't even know if you've got a job or not, especially for me when I've played [every day] in the second half," Aguilar said. "It's been a long year for me. But I have to handle this, I have to keep going now. I don't even know how this works because it's my first season, but I have to keep going. A lot of things are happening right now. I think it's a good day for rest, and then we have to try to play the rest of the season and into the playoffs.

"I feel pretty healthy. It's more mentally. It's been a long season, especially those really important games. You try to do it the right way. But my body feels good, so let's see what happens."

Last call
• Speaking of workloads, it was pointed out to Counsell that Jhoulys Chacin's next start will be his 32nd this season, matching his career high. But because the Brewers, like many clubs these days, make such early calls to the bullpen, Chacin is still 24 1/3 innings shy of the career high he set for Colorado in 2013.

"I think Jhoulys is in a great spot," Counsell said. "He's throwing the ball well. Pitch counts, I don't feel like we've ever pushed him to a crazy spot or really difficult spots. He threw 75 pitches [Tuesday] night and as far as a start goes for a guy, it was a pretty easy start as far as physically. He's really well equipped for it, I think."

Video: MIL@CHC: Chacin strikes out 5, allows one hit over 5

• While the Brewers take Thursday off, the first-place Cubs will be in Washington attempting to make up Sunday's rainout. It continues a stretch in which the Cubs and manager Joe Maddon will report to a ballpark on 30 consecutive days.

"That's tough scheduling, for sure," Counsell said. "But it also means they've gotten a break at some point [earlier this year] with not playing and being able to get some rest through a segment of the schedule. Maybe not planned rest, but still got some rest.

"I've really found that the baseball schedule presents every team at points in the season with huge challenges. We had our challenges before and after the All-Star break, and it probably took a toll on us at some point. You recognize it as part of the schedule, that you're going to have tough moments. Anytime you have to go to a city for one day, that's not ideal."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Jesus Aguilar, Eric Thames