MILWAUKEE -- According to Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, Juan Francisco has hit his way into contention for the 2014 first-base job in Milwaukee.
Francisco, who was acquired from the Braves in early June, stumbled to a 1-for-23 start with the Brewers. Since June 14, though, he has hit .329 (26-for-79) with seven home runs and 14 RBIs in 26 games.
"I think definitely with the power he's shown, and a little more discipline lately, that he's going to get a big opportunity, no question," Roenicke said.
Francisco joined the Brewers primarily as a third baseman, but has played mostly first base with the ineffectiveness of Yuniesky Betancourt and Corey Hart out for the year. Francisco has made four errors in four games at third base with the Brewers, so Roenicke says he will keep the 6-foot-2, 240-pound slugger as mainly a first baseman for the remainder of the season.
"We'll play him a lot [at first base] until he shows he can't do the job," Roenicke said. "It's hard in the season to put guys at different places and we've had to do that this year. I think that's a lot of the reason why, defensively, we haven't been as good. He's been OK [at first base]. He's still getting comfortable with it, but he's done a nice job."
The Brewers have top prospect Hunter Morris playing first base at Triple-A Nashville this season, but Francisco has made it interesting.
"We like what he's doing, and I really like the discipline part, because the first few days he was trying to show us something and he was swinging at everything," Roenicke said. "Now, he's getting to the point where pitchers have to throw him strikes, and he's really dangerous when they throw him strikes."
Aramis reportedly may miss 10-14 more days
MILWAUKEE -- MLB on FOX reporter Ken Rosenthal tweeted Saturday that Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez may miss 10-14 more days due to a left knee injury that placed him on the 15-day disabled list on July 8, retroactive to July 7.
Ramirez is eligible to return from the DL on Monday but Rosenthal, who is close to Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, suggested it could take longer in his tweet.
#Brewers' Aramis Ramirez likely out 10 to 14 more days due to knee. Perhaps an August trade possibility, but will not be moved in July.- Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 20, 2013
Ramirez first sprained his left knee in Spring Training and missed 23 games on the disabled list with the same injury in April. He played at less than 100 percent in May and June before he was put back on the DL before the All-Star break.
Ramirez would be a nice trade piece for the Brewers before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but a trade is unlikely until he proves he can hit for power again. He has just five home runs this year.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said it is impossible to put any timeframe on his third baseman's injury.
"I don't know how you could know that," said Roenicke of Rosenthal's tweet. "Whether it's a week or whether it's ... I don't think it's going to be Monday. I would have no idea when it's going to be. It's up to Ramie and how he feels. To put days on it, you can't put days on it. It could be any time."
Ramirez hit in the indoor batting cage Friday, but has not run yet.
"You just don't know until he's out there swinging in the cage and running around," Roenicke said. "When he doesn't feel the pain anymore, then he's ready to go."
K-Rod lights up radar gun in Friday's save
MILWAUKEE -- All was good for Francisco Rodriguez following Friday's save against the Marlins at Miller Park. The right-handed closer improved to a perfect 10-for-10 in save opportunities this season and hit 94 mph on the radar gun, a sight rarely seen this season.
"I saw that," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's been pitching mostly 92s before that, and he'll hit 93. Yeah, hopefully he's fresh and we'll see what we have."
Rodriguez, who is on a one-year contract and may be the Brewers' best chip ahead of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, said he feels the best he has all season.
"No doubt about it," Rodriguez said. "I'm feeling pretty strong as far as physically. I feel the ball is coming out of my hand pretty well and the command's been really a key factor of the success. Hopefully, it can continue."
The Brewers signed Francisco to a Minor League contract on April 17 and promoted him to the big leagues on May 16. He won the closer's job from Jim Henderson in late June and said the lack of a Spring Training this year may have been a blessing in disguise.
"Of course. It definitely is," Rodriguez said. "A lot of hard work has been put into it and the ending result is paid off. It's still a long way to go, but I feel pretty good. I've been feeling a lot stronger and hopefully that's a good sign."
Rodriguez entered Saturday with a 1.14 ERA in 23 2/3 innings, while striking out 26 and walking eight.
Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.