MILWAUKEE -- With due respect to the hitting prowess of Brewers pitchers, second baseman Scooter Gennett won the lottery this week when he moved from the eighth spot in the batting order to second, in front of Ryan Braun.
"I just want at-bats, period, but when Braun is behind you, it's a little better," Gennett said. "I'm not saying our pitchers can't hit, but Braun is just a little better."
In theory, Gennett should see more fastballs in the two-hole from opposing pitchers unwilling to put him on base in front of the dangerous Braun. That did not necessarily help the previous occupant of the two-hole, shortstop Jean Segura, who was dropped in the order this week, manager Ron Roenicke said, in order to relieve Segura of some pressure.
Gennett went 4-for-9 with a double and a home run in his first two games hitting high in the order, with a run scored and an RBI in each of the games.
"In front of Ryan Braun would be nice to hit," Roenicke said. "I hit in front of Mike Schmidt one [year], that was nice to do. Surprisingly, I walked some, and Mike Schmidt came to me and he says, 'How can they walk you when I'm hitting behind you?' He didn't mean it [offensively]. He was right!
"I think over the long run you do [see better pitches hitting second], but from game to game, I don't know if there's that much difference. [As a pitcher], you know going into a game what your strategy is against certain hitters, and what it comes down to is if your command is off that day and you get behind in the counts, now you have to look at what's happening with that [next] hitter. But if [the pitcher's] command is on, you really don't get pitched differently."
Gennett had been feeling better at the plate before Roenicke shuffled the lineup but remains in a platoon at second base alongside Rickie Weeks. Gennett starts the majority of games because the vast majority of starting pitchers are right-handed, and Roenicke said this week that the arrangement will continue. Weeks entered Wednesday with a .120/.154/.160 slash line in 25 at-bats compared with Gennett's .322/.355/.458 in 59 at-bats.
Since Aug. 5 of last season, when Gennett started playing every day because Weeks was down with a hamstring injury, only the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon has a better batting average than Gennett among players with at least 220 at-bats. Blackmon entered Wednesday hitting .365 since then, and Gennett .348.
"It's not like a midseason feeling, but I'm feeling more comfortable," Gennett said. "My at-bats are more consistent."
Would he ever ask for some at-bats against left-handed pitchers?
"No, I don't really ask for anything," he said. "That's their call, their decision. We're going to do whatever we can to get people on base and win ballgames, and they do what they want to do. I'm just happy to be an option and be part of winning."
Kintzler to come off DL for Cubs series
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' bullpen will be back to full strength Friday when right-handed setup man Brandon Kintzler is activated from the disabled list. Kintzler will have missed the minimum two weeks with a right rotator cuff strain.
Other Brewers relievers ably covered his absence, but Kintzler is very eager to get back in the mix.
"I'm dying," Kintzler said. "I can't deal with the stress of these games anymore. Half the time I can't watch the pitches. It's just tough when you can't control it. I feel like I'm emotionally attached to everyone that is pitching. I want everyone to do good. I want to see them succeed. Hopefully, I can get back and help out a bit."
His final test came Wednesday, when Kintzler threw 40 pitches -- starting with 23 warmups, followed by 17 pitches to suspended Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado.
"He didn't hit the ball at all because he didn't swing," Kintzler joked. "That made me feel good about myself."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke would prefer to ease Kintzler back into eighth-inning duties, which have been shared over the past two weeks by right-handers Jim Henderson and Tyler Thornburg and left-hander Will Smith.
The team will have to make a roster move before Friday's series opener against the Cubs. Right-hander Alfredo Figaro is the most likely man to return to Triple-A Nashville.
"[Kintzler] is one of those guys who it doesn't matter what inning I put him in, what situation I put him in, whether it's left-handed, right-handed -- he's really good," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He showed that last year. I think we did a nice job in putting other guys into that role that they covered really well for him.
"Right off the bat, I probably can't pitch him like I've been pitching these other guys. We probably have to go a little slower with him. Hopefully, we'll start to score some more runs and we won't have to always use all these guys."
• Roenicke was saddened to see the news that Brewers pitching prospect Johnny Hellweg has a torn ligament in his pitching elbow and might need season-ending surgery. Hellweg pitched for Roenicke last year during the regular season and this year in Spring Training.
"They haven't made a definite decision yet [on Tommy John surgery], but if you look at what's gone on so far this year, it looks like the same thing," Roenicke said, referring to the rash of serious elbow injuries around baseball "I don't know. People are trying to find out what's the reasoning for all this. It's hard to explain. …
"We try to monitor these guys more now than we ever have, how many pitches they throw. What about the guys when the rotation used to be four guys? If you think about going to a four-man rotation right now, there's no chance. How'd they do that back then? Guys throwing 300-plus innings. My gosh."
• Henderson's spotless inning of work in Tuesday's extra-inning loss to the Padres was most encouraging, Roenicke said. Henderson struck out the side, catching Jedd Gyorko looking at a slider for the final out of the ninth inning.
"Yesterday's slider was as good as I've seen him have a slider," Roenicke said. "He's pitched quite a few ballgames and he's maintaining his stuff. He still had a real live fastball. So, yeah, I really like what he's doing."