After a dismal start to the season that included a 15-day DL stint after slicing his hand while showering in Pittsburgh, the Milwaukee Brewers sent Scooter Gennett back to Triple-A to get his swing and his defense back.
Former manager Ron Roenicke had installed Gennett in the No. 8 spot in the batting order to open the season and Gennett took to it much like a rock takes to floating.
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Gennett got off to a 6-for-29 start at the plate (.207/.303/.207) with no extra-base hits, one RBI and 12 strikeouts—a pace of one every 2.75 plate appearances—before he was injured in the freak accident after an April 19 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
When he returned from the DL, Gennett was removed from the spot in the batting order right before the pitcher—where fastballs rarely occur—but his bat remained stalled in neutral.
In 11 games after being activated, Gennett was a woeful 4-for-36 with a homer and two RBI, a slash line of .111/.111/.194. About the only positive was that his strikeout rate was down; just seven in 36 at-bats.
Gennett was lifted from a May 17 game against the New York Mets for a pinch-hitter and, with an entirely unimpressive .154/.203/.200 slash line in 69 plate appearances, he was optioned to Colorado Springs.
His instructions: Fix it.
Gennett wowed fans and the organization after his recall in 2013, hitting .324/.356/.479 with six homers and 21 RBI in 69 games, most of them after Rickie Weeks was lost for the season with a torn hamstring.
Installed as the regular second baseman last season (except against left-handers, when Weeks usually got the nod), he put up a .289/.320/.434 slash line in his first full major-league season, with nine homers, 54 RBI and 31 doubles.
While in Triple-A, Gennett seemed to find his stroke. He had hits in his first five games for the Sky Sox and was 11-for-35 with a homer and four RBI during a road trip to Salt Lake and Las Vegas.
He cooled off a little in the thin air of Colorado Springs, going 6-for-27 on a homestand against Sacramento and Fresno.
But after going 6-for-13 with three doubles in three games at Omaha, Gennett was recalled Thursday, with right-hander David Goforth sent back to Colorado Springs.
In all, Gennett hit .307/.342/.507 in 17 games with the Sky Sox, scoring 12 runs with seven doubles, a triple, two home runs and 11 RBI.
In his first game back in the lineup Thursday, Gennett grounded a single over the third-base bag that chased home Shane Peterson with the eventual game-winning run in Milwaukee’s 6-5 win over the Washington Nationals.
He followed that with a 2-for-4 night Friday in the Brewers’ 8-4 win over the Nationals, with a double.
Perhaps most encouraging, he put up those numbers hitting in the No. 8 spot.
The 16th-round draft pick is not likely to ever be a star, but if he can perform like a solid starter, he’s a piece the Brewers can use during the likely rebuild, both to hold a position down in the early stages and possibly as a trade chip further down the line.
In an extremely small two-game sample since returning from his minor-league exile, Gennett looks like he’s on the road to recovery.