Schafer works to feel comfortable coming off bench
PHILADELPHIA -- Playing off the Brewers' bench has been much more difficult than Logan Schafer ever expected, but he's discovered a philosophy to help out.
"Comfort is something that you have to create," Schafer said. "Even when you're not feeling comfortable, you have to imagine yourself feeling comfortable. If not, you have really no chance."
Schafer has been a regular starter his entire baseball life, but now finds himself the fourth outfielder on a club with three entrenched starters: Ryan Braun in left field, Carlos Gomez in center and Norichika Aoki in right. Schafer has scrounged 10 starts in the Brewers' first 55 games, and short of an injury, he does not figure to see increased playing time in the near future.
Schafer has been making the most of rare starts, delivering a career-high three hits as a fill-in for Aoki in Minnesota on Thursday and three more while starting for Gomez in Philadelphia on Saturday.
"No doubt [Schafer is making a case for playing time], but how do you do it?" manager Ron Roenicke said. "You've got those three guys who are all having good years. I'll try to get Logan in more, but we're trying to figure out how to do that."
Schafer is above average at all three outfield positions and is the Brewers' emergency third catcher, even though he throws left-handed. He uses a Roenicke glove from the early 1990s, when Roenicke was on the Dodgers' coaching staff and would occasionally catch pitchers' bullpens.
Looking to further increase his versatility, Schafer asked director of clubhouse operations Tony Migliaccio if he had any left-handed first baseman's gloves. Migliaccio rummaged through a trunk at Miller Park and came up with one that once belonged to Bob Hamelin, the former American League Rookie of the Year who played his final Major League season with Milwaukee in 1998.
The black leather glove is barely broken in, probably because the gold stitching is missing an E and reads, "Bob Hamlin." Schafer began to break it in Sunday morning when he took ground balls at first base during the Brewers' batting practice.
"We just keep them because, you never know," said Migliaccio, who has a Brian Shouse and a Tom Lampkin among his collection.
The Brewers have gotten little production from first base this season, and Corey Hart is still working back from knee surgery. But Roenicke and Schafer both characterized the experiment as "just in case."
"It's just 'super emergency,'" Schafer said. "It's not something anyone is thinking about doing."
Schafer was 6-for-25 (.240) as a pinch-hitter entering Sunday and has received counsel from a number of veterans, including former infielder-turned-front office man Craig Counsell. Schafer's mindset is the same it was when he batted leadoff in the Minor Leagues: get on base.
"It's been a new role for me, coming in and being a bench guy here, helping out and getting much fewer at-bats than I'm typically used to," Schafer said. "It's not an easy role. It's harder than I thought it would be coming into the year. But I enjoy the challenge. It's fun."