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Weeks avoids any serious damage: Second baseman was hit in jaw by a pitch [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
[April 15, 2009]

Weeks avoids any serious damage: Second baseman was hit in jaw by a pitch [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Apr. 15--Much to the surprise of nearly everyone who witnessed it, Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks escaped with only slight swelling and soreness after being struck on the jaw by a pitch Monday night.

Weeks wasn't in the lineup Tuesday night against Cincinnati but it had nothing to do with the frightening episode from the previous evening.

"I had planned on giving him the day off anyway," manager Ken Macha said. "It just kind of meshed in together." Macha planned the night off because Weeks was 1 for 20 (.050) with 10 strikeouts for his career against Reds starter Bronson Arroyo. His replacement, Craig Counsell, was a .368 hitter (7 for 19) against Arroyo.

Squaring around to bunt in the fourth inning Monday night, Weeks was hit by an up-and-in fastball from Cincinnati's Edinson Volquez. He stayed down on the ground for several minutes and Macha admitted that he was nervous when he went out to check on Weeks.

"He wasn't moving, and he wasn't saying anything," said Macha, who was surprised as anyone when Weeks stayed in the game.

Serious injury might have been avoided because it wasn't a direct hit on Weeks' jaw. He thought the baseball might have skimmed his bat first but that would have been a foul ball and umpire Mike Reilly ruled he was hit by the pitch.

Weeks was used as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning against reliever Daniel Herrera with two on and one out, and grounded into a double play.

Word of mouth: Weeks was wearing a mouth guard when struck by the pitch, which might have helped prevent further injury. That, however, is not why Weeks and others on the team, including Ryan Braun and Bill Hall, are using the performance mouth guards that are starting to pop up throughout the majors.

Worn only on the lower teeth, the mouth guards are designed to put the jaw in optimal alignment, relieving stress and increasing strength while improving oxygen flow.

"It stops you from clinching your teeth and relieves tension in your mouth," Hall said.

Coffey rush: The first time Macha summoned Todd Coffey from the bullpen during exhibition season, he thought the reliever's pants might be on fire.

"I didn't realize he did that," Macha said.

"That" is sprint as fast as he can from the bullpen, every time Coffey enters a game. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound right-hander has been doing that ever since he tried it one night while pitching in Cincinnati's farm system in 2004.

"I got real 'jacked up' for the game," Coffey recalled. "We had just taken the lead in the bottom of the eighth with a grand slam. I was all excited and ran in and got after it. I've been doing it ever since." When Coffey ran to the mound for the first time during spring camp, Macha asked him, "Should I stand here a couple more minutes so you can catch your breath?" "He said he was fine," Macha said. "I've been on the other side when guys have run in like that. I said, 'All right, run on in here and get your butt whipped.' " That has yet to happen to Coffey with the Brewers, however. In 13 appearances since he was claimed off waivers last September, he has not allowed a run in 11 2/3 innings.

Command performance: Baseball players often say hitting is contagious. Macha doesn't think that goes for pitchers issuing walks, however.

"I don't think it's like the flu, not at all," Macha said.

Entering play Tuesday, the Brewers' pitching led the National League with 35 walks, which Macha termed "unacceptable."

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