Lefties Gennett, Lind getting everyday chance
Roenicke tries duo against southpaw Locke in series opener
MILWAUKEE -- What was mere spit-balling during Spring Training was put into practice Friday night, when Brewers first baseman Adam Lind and second baseman Scooter Gennett each drew a start against a left-handed pitcher -- Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke.
The assignments were significant beyond fantasy baseball circles. Lind and Gennett have been assigned to platoons in recent seasons, but if they prove they can hit southpaws, it would give Brewers manager Ron Roenicke the sort of offensive stability he's been missing since Prince Fielder departed at the end of 2011.
"It will probably be pitcher by pitcher," Roenicke said. "They'll show me whether they should stay in there or [if] we should make a change."
At first glance, both Lind and Gennett have had little success against left-handed pitching. Lind has slashed .213/.258/.331 against them in 893 career plate appearances, with a 28-percent strikeout rate. Gennett has slashed .125/.146/.138 against lefties in 85 plate appearances.
But Gennett's sample size is too small to pigeonhole him as a platoon player, especially since he handled left-handed pitching respectably in the Minor Leagues. And looking at Lind's career numbers ignores that he slashed 275/.318/.461 in 167 plate appearances against lefties in 2009, Lind's first season of 500-plus at-bats. After his average fell to .117 against left-handers in '10, the Blue Jays began putting Lind in platoon situations.
Roenicke believes Lind deserves a chance to earn those at-bats back.
"That doesn't mean every single time there's a lefty you have him out there," Roenicke said. "I think it all comes down to, we're trying to put these guys in the best position to succeed. So how do we best do that? Is it better to leave him out there against everybody -- they just know when they come to the ballpark they're going to play that day? Or does it really take a lot [of stress] off him if you do end up in a platoon system?
"Scooter had better at-bats against lefties in Spring Training, and so we'll see if that continues here. I'm not going to do it to the point where they're really struggling against these guys. If that's the case, we'll change."