ST. LOUIS -- Brewers officials hope Jerry Hairston Jr.'s nagging neck injury only sidelines him a day or two. He's been a useful addition since a July 30 trade brought Hairston from Washington, and a scenario exists in which he could be a good fit with the club in 2012. Hairston, a free agent after this season, has helped the Brewers fill gaps left by injured center fielder Carlos Gomez and second baseman Rickie Weeks. Gomez returned from the disabled list last week, essentially making Hairston the club's regular second baseman while Weeks works back from a left ankle injury. He's enjoyed his time with the Brewers and would be open to returning.
"It feels like I've been here all year," Hairston said. He leaves offseason business to agent Casey Close, but made it clear the Brewers would be on his list this winter. Milwaukee's primary utility man in the past four seasons has been Craig Counsell, who turned 41 last month and has made no promises about his plans for 2012. Hairston, like Counsell, would cover the Brewers all over the infield, and Hairston has proven a capable outfielder as well. He is batting .275 with the Brewers, including .323 (21-for-65) over his last 20 games. He has earned about $2 million plus bonuses in each of the past three seasons. The more immediate issue is getting Hairston healthy. He has received treatment for stiffness on the left side of his neck since the Brewers' last homestand, and the discomfort has now spread to his shoulder. It forced Hairston to exit Monday's game in the fourth inning. Counsell started at second base Tuesday night, and would have played anyway. He entered the game 14-for-29 against St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse. "We need Jerry," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Hopefully it will just be a game. It could be a couple."