Eyeing everyday role, Gennett out to solve southpaws

Eyeing everyday role, Gennett out to solve southpaws

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Scooter Gennett didn't face a single left-handed starting pitcher last season, but he's already 1-for-1 against them this spring.

Beginning a bid to prove he can hit southpaws and secure everyday duties at second base for the Brewers, Gennett blooped a single to center field against Angels left-hander Hector Santiago to lead off Thursday's Cactus League opener. He added a sacrifice fly two innings later against right-hander Cory Rasmus.

Gennett's sacrifice fly

"I'm very eager," said Gennett. "For me, I'm not eager about showing or proving [that I can hit lefties], but just for myself, being able to play and have fun every day and get in there every day and crack lefties. That's part of the game -- you don't want to [sit] out. It's back to what I'm used to, and I'm really looking forward to it."

Gennett went 4-for-39 last season against left-handers -- all relievers -- while platooning at second base with Rickie Weeks, who's now in Seattle. For his career, Gennett is 10-for-78 against southpaws.

But that is such a small sample, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke essentially has thrown it out. Roenicke notes that Gennett handled left-handed pitchers in the Minor Leagues, including a 2011 season at Class A Advanced Brevard County in which Gennett batted .282 with a .345 on-base percentage against them.

"For me, you can't hit lefties unless you can get hit by them," Gennett said, "which means, if there's a guy throwing 97 [mph] and slinging it in there, the only way I'm going to hit him is if I stand in there willing to stay in there and wear one in the neck or the shoulder or the ribs. That's what you have to do to hit lefties. So that's the one thing I worry about -- don't be a scaredy cat and get out of the way, and I'll be all right."

Roenicke wants to see a lot of Gennett and first baseman Adam Lind against left-handers this spring, though Lind did not play against the Angels. The left-handed hitter will make his unofficial Brewers debut on Friday against the Dodgers (2:05 p.m. CT on MLB.TV).

"The problem now is, especially for the first five games, it's usually just two innings [for the opposing starter], so its only one at-bat," Roenicke said. "Later on, I'll worry about that more. .. Now, I'm worried more about them getting their feet under them and getting used to being out there more than I worry about the starting pitcher."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.