Crew takes rare infield practice Tuesday

Crew takes rare infield practice

MILWAUKEE -- There was no connection between Monday's embarrassing 14-6 loss to the last-place Nationals and a rare occurrence of infield practice on Tuesday, Brewers manager Ken Macha insisted after his pitchers and infielders worked out at Miller Park.

The early work -- a combination of infield practice and pitchers' fielding practice (or PFP, a staple of Spring Training) -- came amid a tough month for the Brewers, who fell to 7-15 in July with Monday's loss. But Macha, who said the PFP portion of Tuesday's workout was requested by pitching coach Bill Castro and was pre-scheduled, said that he hasn't seen any lackadaisical play.

"Not really," Macha said. "There was a lot of life in the dugout [Monday] night. ... When I was with Oakland, sometimes our GM would come down and say there was 'general malaise.' But when you're 0-for-4 and you're five or six runs behind, sometimes that does happen. That's human nature when you're losing a lot of games.

"That's when your intestinal fortitude and your focus and your self-motivation comes in. This is a team game, but it's an individual game, too."

Only the outfielders and catchers were excused from Tuesday's early work, when pitchers took turns fielding bunts and covering bases as infielders took ground balls and worked on double-play feeds.

"When I was a manager I liked to do stuff like that," said bench coach Willie Randolph, the former Mets skipper. "It's especially important since we have a new guy in the fold in [infielder] Felipe Lopez, and it's a matter of tightening up a little bit. Sometimes it's good to do something a little different to refocus a little bit, not that we've been doing anything wrong, defensively."

Like Macha, Randolph said he had no problem with the team's focus and intensity this month.

"Any time you have a stretch like we're having, it's easy to see things," Randolph said. "I think the effort is good. Everything starts when you set the tone with pitching. Pitching will make you look either this way or that way, and we need to pick each other up. Everybody is going to go through their lulls, offensively, defensively, pitching-wise. It's time to do things more consistently.

"I think guys understand that this is a big time for us. But no matter how bad things look, you have to look at the big picture of where you are, and we're, what, four games back? Don't worry about where you're supposed to be, look at where you are and then do something about it."

The Brewers indeed entered Tuesday four games behind the first-place Cubs in the National League Central. The Cardinals were a half-game behind Chicago, and the Astros were three games out of first place and one game ahead of the Brewers.

Macha, for his part, said he liked taking infield during his own playing career. He was a bench player for the Pirates, Expos and Blue Jays.

"That's the only time I got out there to show my arm to the scouts," Macha said. "I enjoyed that long throw over to third base."

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