MILWAUKEE -- Brewers veteran Craig Counsell moved into a starting role Thursday amid the worst stretch of his long career.
"It's hard to paint a pretty picture of it. I'm struggling; it's been ugly," said Counsell, who entered the day hitless since June 10. "There's nothing I can do about yesterday. Today's a different day, and I got to go up and try to have some good at-bats and do something to help us win, and that's all I can do."
With Rickie Weeks sidelined due to a severe left ankle sprain, manager Ron Roenicke gave Counsell the start against Randy Wells and the Cubs. Barring a major deal before Sunday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, Counsell, Josh Wilson and newly-promoted Eric Farris will have to cover second base until Weeks returns. Milwaukee acquired Felipe Lopez from the Rays for cash on Thursday, so he's another option.
Roenicke lauded Counsell's defensive contributions after he went 0-for-3 as Weeks' replacement Wednesday night. But Counsell moved ahead of Greg Vaughn's 1990 0-for-38 slump for the longest by a position player in Brewers history when he grounded out in the second inning on Thursday.
Roenicke said history reassures him that Counsell will bounce back and added that it hasn't been easy that Counsell's had to pinch-hit in key situations against setup men and closers. At this stage in his career, Counsell said he finds himself more concerned with the outcome of the game than his own stats.
"I don't think in Spring Training you can square up so many balls and then lose it in three months. I don't think that happens," Roenicke said. "It's mental. It's the same thing these other guys have gone through during the season, where you lose your confidence and it's hard to get it back. ...
"I don't think we're going to win or lose by whether our second baseman hits or not," Roenicke added. "It's different when you have Rickie in there, because Rickie is part of your first five [hitters], which makes a difference. Whether he's leadoff or whether he's hitting fifth, it makes a difference. If we lose this thing it's not because we have a second baseman who's hitting eighth or seventh, wherever we put him, who isn't hitting the ball."