COMMENTARY | Folks living in Wisconsin can attest to this -- in no way does it feel like opening day is a mere five days away -- but lo and behold, the Milwaukee Brewers are set to begin their 2013 campaign April 1.
They will take on the Colorado Rockies in the friendly confines of Miller Park. But who will be taking the field for Milwaukee, and how will the lineup shake out?
1. RF - Norichika Aoki
He went from occasional starter to the top of the lineup for the Brewers in his rookie season, and now Aoki is the bona fide leadoff man for Ron Roenicke's bunch. The 31-year-old bulked up some this winter and had a .355 on-base percentage last season with 10 HRs and 50 RBIs.
2. 2B - Rickie Weeks
Finally, Weeks is healthy entering the season, and, hopefully, that means he will pick up where he left off last season. Weeks hit .269 over the final three months of the season as opposed to his dreadful .183 mark in the first half.
3. LF - Ryan Braun
Once again, PED talks involving Braun's name have surfaced in the offseason, but Braun prefers to let his bat do the talking. He finished runner-up in the MVP voting last season despite the controversy.
4. 3B - Aramis Ramirez
Entering his second season as a Brewer, Ramirez will look to avoid another slow start. Last year, he struggled to eclipse the .200 mark after the first month of the season, but he went on an absolute tear in the second half, hitting .333 over the final three months.
5. C - Jonathan Lucroy
Lucroy moves up from his usual six-spot in the lineup due to Corey Hart's absence, but that means more at-bats for a guy who hit .320 last season. The Brewers would prefer a two-month hiatus due to a suitcase mishap doesn't rear its ugly head again.
6. 1B - Alex Gonzalez
Brought back to mentor Jean Segura at shortstop, Gonzalez will instead shift over and be the everyday starter at first until Hart is ready to return from knee surgery. The 36-year-old was the starting shortstop in Milwaukee last season before tearing his ACL.
7. CF - Carlos Gomez
Seventh may seem a little low for Gomez, but he helps balance the lineup and provides some power and speed in this slot. Gomez is coming off a career year in which he hit .260 with 19 HRs and 51 RBIs, and he was rewarded with a three-year contract extension this March.
8. SS - Jean Segura
Segura's glove is MLB-ready, but the real question is how he will perform at the plate. Segura looked competent swinging the bat after his call-up last season and hit the tar out of the baseball this spring.
9. SP - Yovani Gallardo
For the fourth straight year, Gallardo will take the ball on opening day for the Brewers, and he will also take over the ace role. Gallardo hopes to look the part and improve on his 16-9, 3.66 ERA performance from a year ago.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who contains an unhealthy amount of knowledge about Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline and as a featured columnist among other sites and publications.
You can follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_.
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