PHOENIX -- Norichika Aoki, a three-time Japanese batting champ beginning his first stint in the United States, hasn't hit quite as well as the Brewers would like early on this spring. But there's something else he hasn't done much of: strike out.
Aoki went down swinging for his first Cactus League strikeout on Wednesday against the Cubs. He's gone 5-for-28 (.179) this spring, with three runs and two RBIs heading into Thursday.
"I was surprised," manager Ron Roenicke said of Aoki's first strikeout. "He swung through a pitch yesterday. He doesn't swing through many pitches. It's usually fouled or put in play. That's good. I know he's not getting hits, but it's good when I see that he's gonna be a tough out."
Roenicke said he knows Aoki is not where he'd like to be, either, but pointed to the cases of other international players who have struggled out of the gate. He referenced Hideki Matsui as an example of another Japanese player who had a tough time acclimating to the culture and the game.
"I know he's not happy with not being a little more locked in offensively," Roenicke said. "But with everything -- we talk about the new culture, the people, the teammates -- those are tough things, so I'm not surprised it's taking him a little while."