Weeks stops chasing, gets in a groove at plate

Weeks stops chasing, gets in a groove at plate

MIAMI -- Rickie Weeks is no longer chasing pitches, and his patience is paying off at the plate.

After getting off to a slow start, hitting .162 through the middle of June, Weeks has turned things around. Over his last 72 games, the Brewers second baseman is hitting .285 with 11 homers and 35 RBIs, raising his overall average to .230 entering Thursday's series finale at Marlins Park.

They key to the turnaround, according to Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, has been Weeks backing off breaking balls low in the zone.

"You see, when these guys get locked in, it's always because they stop chasing like that," Roenicke said. "Then the pitcher goes, 'Well, what do I do now?'"

Roenicke said it's similar to what he saw from Weeks at the beginning of last season when the second baseman was producing offensively, but was still chasing a lot of pitches during the first month of the season. After chasing early in the year, Weeks settled in and went on to earn his first All-Star Game nod.

"That's where he is right now," Roenicke said. "Everybody's going to chase. Everybody is, but there's a certain amount of times where you just can't do it time after time. When he stopped chasing last year, he got really scary, because there's really no place to go to for a pitcher to get him out.

"If players stop swinging at [the ball low] and the pitchers know they have to come back up in the zone, it's not a good thing."

While Weeks has zoned in at the plate -- he smacked two homers Wednesday to up his total to 16 -- Roenicke believes another factor in the second baseman's turnaround has been his health. Weeks suffered a significant ankle sprain last July, and still wasn't 100 percent during Spring Training. The tape on his ankle affected his approach at the plate, leaving him flatfooted.

Since Weeks hit his stride in July, though, Roenicke says the second baseman has been feeling much more comfortable health-wise.