For much of the season, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt was Public Enemy No. 1 in Brewer Nation because of his underperforming ways, offensively and defensively.
Lately, Betancourt has been turning those jeers into cheers. After being named the Brewers' player of the month for July, he has continued to swing a hot bat in the early days of August.
"I've been telling you guys for a while that 'Yuni' is going to start hitting," said third baseman Casey McGehee, who also struggled throughout the first half but has heated up.
"That guy's hands are too good to not be hitting. When you look at him, he's starting to show some flashes of the 'Yuni' that we all thought we were going to get."
At the break, Betancourt was batting .237 with five homers and 30 RBI in 85 games. Entering the Brewers' weekend series in Houston, he was hitting .354 in 20 games since, with three homers and 13 RBI. Over his last 16 games, his average was even better -- .362.
It's a surge the Brewers were counting on.
"He did the same thing last year, turned things around and had a big second half," hitting coach Dale Sveum said of Betancourt's last season in Kansas City.
The big difference, according to Sveum, has been Betancourt's improved plate discipline.
"The main thing with him is getting a good pitch to hit," said Sveum. "His problems come with swinging at a lot of pitches when they're out of the strike zone.
"When he gets the ball up in the zone and he's a little more patient, he's a lot more successful. I've just talked to him about getting the ball up. You're not really going to change a guy's aggressiveness too often."
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