MILWAUKEE -- Sean Halton started at first base for the Brewers on Tuesday, giving slugging Juan Francisco a break amid a serious strikeout binge.
Francisco went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts Sunday against the Reds and Monday against the Cardinals, making him the third player this season to earn a so-called "golden sombrero" in consecutive games. Oakland's Seth Smith whiffed four times in consecutive games on May 1 and 3, and Detroit's Prince Fielder followed a four-strikeout game with a five-strikeout game (the rare "platinum sombrero") on April 16-17.
"I talked to him earlier, and he's fine," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Francisco. "It gets to you after a while, and I think it got to him the last couple of days. If I think he just needs one day, I'll get him back in there [Wednesday], and I'll try to look at matchups to see if I can help him out that way."
The Brewers have been assessing in recent weeks whether Francisco can play first base on a regular basis in the Majors. The Brewers have a big hole there, with Corey Hart due for free agency after missing all of 2013 with knee injuries, and Mat Gamel enduring a second straight season lost to a torn ACL.
Francisco's power has been encouraging (13 home runs and a .500 slugging percentage in his first 188 Brewers at-bats), but like many power hitters, he struggles with strikeouts. He struck out 117 times in 326 plate appearances with the Braves and Brewers entering Tuesday, the second-highest strikeout rate (35.7 percent) among Major Leaguers with at least 200 at-bats. The Astros' Chris Carter led that category with strikeouts in 36.8 percent of his plate appearances.
Still, this week's binge came as a surprise to Roenicke.
"He had been doing a really good job," Roenicke said. "He was having some good at-bats, he was walking a couple of times, and then he has those two days. Those are hard."