Duffy, Counsell in lineup vs. Dempster
Macha turns to lefty bench players against tough righty
MILWAUKEE -- There was a whole lot of blue on Brewers manager Ken Macha's cheatsheet Sunday, highlighting in bright colors his hitters' struggles against Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster. So Macha went to the bench.Chris Duffy made his first Brewers start in center field in place of Mike Cameron, who is 3-for-18 with seven strikeouts in his career against Dempster. Duffy entered the night 2-for-4 in limited action against the Cubs righty. Craig Counsell also came off the bench to start, replacing Bill Hall at third base for the second time in the season's first six games. Hall's 3-for-18, seven-strikeout history against Dempster wasn't much worse than Counsell's 3-for-15 entering the night, but Macha was trying to play into Dempster's relative struggles against left-handed hitters -- .282 career average against -- compared to .244 against righties. Both Counsell and Duffy are left-handed hitters. Cameron and Hall hit right-handed. "I want to make sure I keep the bench involved," Macha said. "Duffy has four at-bats against this guy and has a couple of hits. I wanted to get as many left-handers in there as possible." Macha considered giving another left-handed hitter, Brad Nelson, a start in right field over Corey Hart, who entered the day 1-for-14 (.071) against Dempster. But Macha decided that Hart's recent at-bats have been too good to warrant a day off. Cameron, Hall and Hart were not the only players who entered Milwaukee's first appearance on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball since July 1997 with lousy career numbers against Dempster. Ryan Braun was 2-for-15, J.J. Hardy was 2-for-18 and Rickie Weeks was 2-for-9. "We've got a lot of boxes with blue in it," said Macha, referring again to his cheatsheet. Not surprisingly, Dempster went 4-0 against Milwaukee last season with a 2.70 ERA, and allowed only one run in five innings in his only no-decision. Duffy will take every opportunity to start he can get. He might not get many playing behind Cameron, a Gold Glove-caliber defensive player with a potent, if strikeout-prone, bat. Playing off the bench is a new experience for Duffy, who started 160 of his 178 career Major League games entering this season, his first with Milwaukee. "It's pretty new," Duffy said. "I guess it's one of those things that you learn as you go along. Really, I'm not very worried about it. To me, it's just another day at the ballpark." Macha called Duffy into his office on Saturday night and told him he would be in Sunday's starting lineup. "That helps, I suppose," Duffy said. "It helps you get mentally prepared to play."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.