Saves leader trying to regain command
PITTSBURGH -- Trevor Hoffman, his role as the Brewers closer increasingly in doubt as he struggles through a miserable season, will sit out a two-game series in Pittsburgh so he can work with pitching coach Rick Peterson.
Even after the Brewers feel comfortable putting Hoffman into a game again, manager Ken Macha isn't guaranteeing the majors' all-time saves leader will finish games.
"We'll see how things go," Macha said Wednesday. "We'll see how he comes out of this."
Hoffman blew his fifth save in 10 opportunities by giving up three runs in the ninth inning of Milwaukee's 5-4 defeat at Cincinnati on Tuesday -- the Brewers' eighth consecutive loss. He is 1-3 with a 13.15 ERA, allowing 21 hits, seven walks and seven home runs in 13 innings, a year after he gave up only two homers in 55 games.
"He [Peterson] is very concerned about Trevor and wants to get him straightened out," Macha said. "Rick wants to do a couple of sessions with him in the bullpen, so at least the next couple of games he's not available."
The 42-year-old Hoffman isn't effectively throwing his out pitch, the changeup, which is allowing hitters to sit on his fastball. He tried going back to his changeup against the Reds, but Scott Rolen hit a two-run homer as Hoffman failed to retire any of the five hitters he faced.
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After the game, Peterson talked with Brewers' scouts, who believe the right-hander's arm angle is too high and thus is causing him to deliver the ball differently than normal.
"He's been in the league 18 years and he's had no practice time," Peterson said. "That's what we're trying to do, take a step back. When you're struggling as a hitter, you take extra batting practice. As a starter, you get a bullpen session or two. As a reliever, you don't get that chance to practice."
Before Macha and Peterson could talk to him, Hoffman had gone through his normal pregame routine Wednesday, so the first extra session will be Thursday in Pittsburgh. Macha isn't certain if there will be other sessions when the Brewers play a three-game series at Minnesota starting Friday.
"He said he'll do whatever we ask him to do. He's strictly professional about it," Macha said. "I don't want to say he's apologetic, but he's sorry he's creating a lot of lost leads for a lot of people. He's a pro's pro, he sees what's going on and he doesn't want to do anything but help the team. He wants to get straightened out."
Hoffman, who needs four saves to become the first reliever with 600 career saves, did not talk to reporters before the game. With his next appearance, he will become the 14th major leaguer to pitch in 1,000 games.
Hoffman was 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA and 37 saves in 41 opportunities last season, prompting the Brewers to sign him to a $7.5 million contract for this season.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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