McGehee vows to fight through latest slump

McGehee vows to fight through latest slump

CHICAGO -- On one hand, Casey McGehee finds comfort in the fact that his personal nightmare comes amid a dream season for the Brewers, one that will almost certainly continue into October. On the other hand, that only adds to his frustration.

"I had big expectations of myself coming into the year, and you want to be a part of what's going on," McGehee said. "You want to be one of the guys that's contributing nightly to the success we've had. When that's not happening, it's frustrating, no doubt."

McGehee entered Tuesday's start against the Cubs with four hits in his last 41 at-bats, including a ninth-inning solo home run in Monday's 5-2 loss. That big hit snapped an 0-for-19 funk.

It left McGehee with a .229 average, 13 home runs and 67 RBIs in a season full of a few peaks and many more deep valleys. The year before, he batted .285 with 23 homers and a team-best 104 RBIs.

But he continues to find a spot in the starting lineup, and manager Ron Roenicke indicated that late-August callup Taylor Green is not an option to take over. Green has cooled since a scorching-hot start to his Major League career, partly because his playing time has diminished and partly because opponents are building better scouting reports.

"It doesn't take long for the scouting reports to figure out what in the world you're hitting and what you're not," Roenicke said. "That's why the young guys, it's so hard on them. They have to make the adjustments, and if you can't make them in a hurry, Major League pitchers are going to abuse you with that."

Roenicke prefers McGehee because, "The thing with Casey is he's shown he can do it. I'm waiting for him to do it."

"I'll be the first one to admit that it hasn't gone the way I envisioned or hoped or expected it to go," McGehee said. "There are only two things you can do about it: You can either pout about it and quit, or you can keep going out there hacking and swinging and trying to get going."

McGehee is choosing the latter.

"I'd rather get hot late than never," he said. "And as hard as it is to believe it, I honestly feel like my swing has progressively gotten better the past couple of weeks, and mechanically I feel as good as I've felt since Spring Training. Now it's a matter of making sure I get good pitches to hit, and maybe being a little more selectively aggressive."

That challenge was clear on Monday night, when McGehee looked at three straight strikes from Cubs starter Casey Coleman with two runners on, two outs and the Brewers trailing by only two runs. McGehee was mad at himself for letting the first pitch -- a 91-mph fastball -- go by.

Three innings later, he homered off Cubs closer Carlos Marmol.

"Half the battle, I feel like, has gotten accomplished," McGehee said, referring to his mechanical work with hitting coach Dale Sveum. "Now it's just getting back to my approach and keep putting good swings on it and, as stupid as it sounds, keep going out there with a smile on my face and realize that we're playing a game. Have fun, and maybe don't feel like you're going to have a heart attack after every pitch. ...

"I kind of liken it to a shooter in basketball; shooters keep shooting. Hitters keep swinging. That's all I know how to do, and that's all I'm going to try to do. I'd probably be lying if I said I was pleased with my personal performance, but it's been a good test ... of having it be more about the team than my individual self."

McGehee is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter.

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.