Yost nears completion of opening lineup
With five slots settled, manager must decide on four more
PHOENIX -- With just more than a week remaining before Opening Day, the Brewers' lineup is coming into focus for manager Ned Yost.
"I'm pretty close," Yost said.
Five spots appear set. Second baseman Rickie Weeks, assuming he can work back from a swollen right hand, will hit leadoff. First baseman Prince Fielder and left fielder Ryan Braun are the Nos. 3-4 hitters. And Yost likes batting catcher Jason Kendall ninth, behind the pitcher in the No. 8 hole.
That leaves four slots unsettled. When center fielder Mike Cameron returns in late April from a 25-game suspension, he will bat second, but for now, Yost is trying to decide whether he likes shortstop J.J. Hardy there, or a center-field fill-in like Tony Gwynn Jr. Whoever is not used in the two-hole will likely hit seventh.
"On-base is going to be a really, really big component" in selecting a two-hole hitter, Yost said. "I want our best on-base percentage guys up for our boppers, before we get to Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Billy Hall and Corey Hart. ... I'm still pondering that two-spot, right now. It would probably be a moot deal if Cameron didn't have 25 games, because I really like him there. I like the fastballs he gets, in front of Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun."
The other spots up for grabs are the Nos. 5 and 6 slots. Third baseman Hall hit fifth on Friday against the Padres and right fielder Hart hit sixth, but Hart excelled in the five-hole last season (.319 average in 119 at-bats).
"Billy has had a really nice spring offensively, for me, and for Corey, it's been a bit of a struggle," Yost said. "But when Corey gets hot, look out."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.