MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ken Macha turned many of his regulars into cheerleaders on Thursday. He hoped a one-day break would help some of his slumping sluggers snap out their collective funk. Shortstop J.J. Hardy (six hits in his past 47 at-bats), right fielder Corey Hart (three hits in his last 27 at-bats) and center fielder Mike Cameron (two hits in his past 22 at-bats) all started Thursday on the bench. So did third baseman Bill Hall, who was 5-for-9 lifetime against Rockies starter Aaron Cook, but had just five hits in his past 63 at-bats. It was just a one-day break for all four players, with left-hander Clayton Richard set to start for the White Sox on Friday, but it was indicative of a larger problem. Other than Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Craig Counsell, the first-place Brewers hadn't been hitting over the past week.
"Sometimes when clubs aren't hitting, you get a little quietness on the bench," Macha said. "We still have over 100 games left and you have to keep the faith, stay positive about what you are doing. You take a step back and look at how you've performed in the past and have confidence that you'll get close to what you have done. That's the message, [especially] to Hart and Hardy." What about the hitting coach? The way things have been going, Dale Sveum might need a day off, too. "Dale just continues to chug along," Macha said. "He's been out here the last two days for extra [batting practice], trying to help these guys figure it out." Hall has made some changes, taking the bat off his shoulder as he sets up and bending his knees a bit more. The trouble with Hart's swing, according to Macha, might not be as mechanical. "Some of them have been, 'I just want to put the ball in play' swings," Macha said. It's Sveum's job to help the hitters get back on track. Step 1, he said, is getting back to talking walks when pitchers offer them up. "These things happen. You're going good and then all of a sudden [you're not]," Sveum said. "That's the way hitting is. That's why it's difficult, especially over 162 games. You don't want people to panic. You tweak things, but it's mostly the confidence factor. "It is contagious, there's no doubt about it. The attitude and the energy get sucked up through 'non-confidence,' and a lot of people start feeling it. Maybe it will be good to give a couple of guys a day off. We've got a lot of home games this month and we need to be hitting to take advantage of our ballpark."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.