MINNEAPOLIS -- Norichika Aoki has claimed Milwaukee's leadoff spot with a consistent bat, but he's also impressed Ron Roenicke with his defense.
Aoki is becoming a more reliable option at the corner outfield positions, the Brewers manager said. Aoki started Sunday's game in right field against the Twins, the 17th game this season he's started at the position. Milwaukee entered Sunday with an 11-10 record in games in which Aoki started in left or right field, but 3-7 with him as the team's center fielder.
"Left and right field, I like what he does," Roenicke said. "Center field, his jumps are pretty good -- it's just foot speed."
Aoki struggled to make accurate throws earlier in the season, missing cutoff men, Roenicke said. But his arm strength has been a pleasant surprise.
"When we first scouted him, that was a question mark," Roenicke said. "There's not an arm strength issue. To put him in right field is no problem for me. He knows what he's doing. He's a smart player. I like him in the corners."
Offensively, Aoki entered Sunday with a .293 average. He gave Milwaukee an early 2-0 lead during Saturday's game with a second-inning two-run single that scored Rickie Weeks and Taylor Green.
"I like him there [in the leadoff spot]," Roenicke said. "He'll have an off-day, but the next day he'll bounce right back and get you a couple hits. He does a nice job."