Fielder a model of consistency in first half

Fielder a model of consistency

MILWAUKEE -- Three things are certain these days -- death, taxes and Prince Fielder's name in the starting lineup.

One can bank on the fact that Fielder, who set a club record for the first half with 78 RBIs, will be back in the lineup Thursday, when the Brewers resume play with a four-game series in Cincinnati. Manager Ken Macha said Fielder could play all 162 games this season if he stays healthy.

"He's going to have to come in the office and tell me he needs a day off," Macha said. "That's in contrast to guys that come in and say, 'Why am I not in the lineup?'"

In other words, Fielder is a special case.

"We had a conversation the other day, and I told him I was watching his batting practice and he's just crushing every ball," Macha said. "He's hitting them to left-center; it's not like he's just trying to launch a home run every time. It's on the barrel, every ball. Wow. That's what you like to see from BP, not a home run derby."

Macha admitted prior to the All-Star break that he worried that Fielder's participation in the State Farm Home Run Derby could foul up his swing. Macha saw it first-hand in 2005, when he was on the All-Star staff in Detroit and watched then-Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu set a Derby record, then go homerless in games until Aug. 4.

If Fielder, who won the Derby at Busch Stadium on Monday, suffers a similar slump, it would be his first this season. His 78 RBIs before the All-Star break are two better than Carlos Lee's previous mark set in 2005 and three more than Greg Vaughn's 75 RBIs in 1996.

Fielder has amassed his total with impressive consistency. He's gone more than two games without an RBI only three times this season, and his longest drought lasted all of four games.

Veteran Brewers outfielder Frank Catalanotto knows how hard that is to do. It reminds him of Carlos Delgado's impressive season in Toronto in 2003, when Delgado amassed 97 RBIs before the break.

"I remember thinking the same thing that I think of Prince, that whenever there was a runner in scoring position, he got the job done," Catalanotto said. "His consistency is a lot like Prince's. It's not like he's getting a bunch of five- or six-RBI games. It's one or two here and there, all the time. That takes a lot of focus. Sometimes you've got runners in scoring position and you're thinking about other things, but his focus and his concentration is obviously there. He's fun to watch right now."

Said Macha: "He's been a model of consistency. Every night, he's on base a couple of times. He's gotten some big hits. I think he's played extremely well at first base, something that he doesn't get credit for. You just pencil his name in the lineup and don't worry about it."

Pitching matchup
MIL: RHP Braden Looper (7-4, 4.94 ERA)
The Brewers call on Looper to open the second half. He hasn't been as effective on the road this season (3-3, 6.06 ERA in seven starts) and those numbers were inflated by a poor outing at Great American Ball Park on May 7, when he lasted only 3 1/3 innings and allowed five runs on eight Reds hits, including a pair of home runs.

CIN: RHP Homer Bailey (1-0, 5.16 ERA)
In another fine outing, Bailey gave up two earned runs and seven hits with no walks and a career-high six strikeouts his last time out. He did not figure in the final decision -- a 3-2 loss by the Reds to the Phillies. Bailey lost his chance for a win with two outs in the sixth, when Jayson Werth drove a 2-1 fastball located poorly over the plate to right-center field for a game-tying home run. The right-hander has a 3.44 ERA in three starts since returning to the big leagues.

Tidbits
Shortstop J.J. Hardy was 4-for-7 with five RBIs in the first two games of the Brewers' final series before the break, but was out of Sunday's lineup because of soreness near his left collarbone or shoulder. Macha said Hardy reported feeling a tweak during a swing Saturday night. ... With Manny Parra already back in the starting rotation and Dave Bush soon to follow, Macha saw "nothing but positives to come" in the second half. "I want to stay as much on the positives, because I think there are going to be some positives to come out of this," Macha said. "You run through the season, you always go through your ups and downs. I can see that right around the corner, the upside is going to start here." ... A Boston Globe reporter continues to push the Brewers as a suitor for rehabbing left-hander Mark Mulder, reporting over the weekend that the Brewers were one of three teams "interested." But general manager Doug Melvin has repeatedly told reporters in Milwaukee that he has had absolutely no contact with Mulder, and had no idea about his progress from a shoulder injury. According to the Globe, Mulder could begin fielding offers this week. ... The Brewers have posted a sub-.500 record after the All-Star break in six of the eight seasons of the Miller Park era but bucked the trend last year by going 38-29 in the second half.

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Up next
• Friday: Brewers (Jeff Suppan, 5-6, 4.70) at Reds (Bronson Arroyo, 9-8, 5.38), 6:10 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Brewers (Manny Parra, 3-8, 6.78) at Reds (Aaron Harang, 5-8, 3.89), 6:10 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Brewers (Yovani Gallardo, 8-7, 3.22) at Reds (Johnny Cueto, 8-6, 3.62), 12:10 p.m. CT

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.