MILWAUKEE -- When Brewers manager Ron Roenicke gave outfielder Norichika Aoki a day off on June 20 because he thought fatigue might be leading to a mini slump, the 30-year-old rookie decided to cut back on his daily workout regimen.
The results on the field since have shown Roenicke might have been correct in assuming Aoki was tired.
After going 0-for-4 on June 22 and dropping his average to .269 -- the lowest it had been since mid-May -- Aoki started a 12-game hit streak, which he continued with a base hit in the first inning on Thursday against the Marlins.
Before his recent streak, Aoki hadn't hit safely in more than six games in a row. But by cutting down his pregame routine to what he estimated is one-third of what it used to be, Aoki said he's more fresh heading into each game.
"I feel like I can be more consistently good, as opposed to having my ups and downs before," Aoki said. "When I went through my good streaks, it didn't really last long. I would just go back down again. That was the result of working out and practicing too hard."
Aoki has recorded multiple hits in five games during his streak, and was batting .395 with six RBIs in that span entering Thursday's series finale against the Marlins.
Still, midway through the season, he finds himself getting used to the daily grind of Major League Baseball. The biggest changes from Japan, where he was a three-time Central League batting champion, and the Majors are travel and schedule. Aoki said day games only came on the weekend in Japan, and his team didn't play on consecutive days nearly as often, making it easier to take between 1,000 and 2,000 practice swings per day.
Although he appreciates the effort, Roenicke said it's important that Aoki realized he needed to make a change.
"Those are the little adjustments that players make and figure out what works best," Roenicke said. "I think if he was coming in that hour early, and he was hitting his whatever -- 200-300 balls in the cage every day -- and he was able to maintain strength and performance, then he would stick with it. But you have to adjust to different things you see."