Shaw making most of early chances vs. LHP

Shaw making most of early chances vs. LHP

MILWAUKEE -- Travis Shaw's first order of business on Tuesday was a peek at the LED board hanging on the wall a few feet from his locker. It displays the Brewers' starting lineup, and since they were facing a southpaw for the first time, the lefty-swinging Shaw was eager to see his name.

Late last year in Boston, it probably would have been absent. On Tuesday, there it was, batting fifth and playing third base.

"He's going to get a shot against left-handed pitching," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "What he's shown us so far is that he certainly deserves it."

Shaw cashed-in on his opportunity by hitting a pair of doubles and delivering a run-scoring groundout in his three at-bats against the Rockies' lefty starter -- hard-throwing Tyler Anderson -- to give the Brewers a bright spot in their 6-5 loss at Miller Park.

After doubling in his first two trips to the plate on Tuesday, Shaw had four doubles in his first six plate appearances at Miller Park, a good place for hitters that can be particularly good to left-handed hitters. His four doubles in the first two games of a season set a new franchise record, eclipsing Paul Molitor's three doubles in the first two games for "Team Streak" in 1987.

"Last year, I didn't get that opportunity," said Shaw, who platooned down the stretch with veteran Aaron Hill, who came to Boston in a trade with the Brewers. "I feel like I'm a pretty decent hitter against lefties, so I've been given the opportunity here so far. I'm just trying to make the most of it and prove to them that I can do it on a consistent basis."

Shaw's RBI groundout

Shaw has had mixed success against southpaws in his budding Major League career. In 2015, Shaw slashed .329/.353/.622 in 85 plate appearances against left-handers, but that slipped to .187/.235/.364 in 115 plate appearances in '16.

As the season went along, the opportunities became fewer.

"Some days, it gets frustrating," Shaw said. "I mean, sometimes you get it. If it's a really tough lefty, you understand the matchup. But when it's done on a consistent basis, it can be frustrating a little bit.

"I think hitting off lefties can round you as a pure, overall hitter. If you get used to facing one side of the arm, it can kind of mess things up a little bit."

The Brewers are giving him the opportunity. They acquired Shaw from the Red Sox with two top-30 prospects (shortstop Mauricio Dubon and pitcher Josh Pennington, plus a player still to be named) in a Winter Meetings swap that sent reliever Tyler Thornburg to Boston. Thornburg opened the season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.

Shaw, 27 on April 16, swung a hot bat in Spring Training, hitting .351 in 22 games. Two of his five spring homers came off lefties.

"We do need guys that are going to be in there most days," Counsell said. "We can't have eight platoon players out there."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.