Sounds' Conrad continues power surge

Brewers farmhand has homered in four straight, eight of nine

By Sam Dykstra / Special to | May 26, 2012 9:08 PM ET

Sometimes adjustments of mere fractions of inches can produce substantial much more substantial results.

That's the case for Brooks Conrad, who homered for the fourth straight game Saturday as the Triple-A Nashville Sounds defeated the Round Rock Express, 7-3.

The 31-year-old switch-hitter has gone yard in eight of his last nine contests, totaling 22 RBIs during that stretch. He had homered only twice in his 12 previous games for the Brewers' top affiliate and failed to hit a longball during a 13-game stint with Milwaukee.

"It's something I haven't ever done," Conrad said. "But you know, I'm staying on the ball better, I'm seeing the ball better and it's turning into results."

The big difference? A small change in the way he holds the bat.

After going 0-for-21 during his stay in the Majors from May 4-19, Conrad knew something wasn't quite right at the plate. So he went to work with Sounds hitting coach Al LeBoeuf, trying to correct the problem.

"When I came back down, my Triple-A hitting coach turned it around right away and identified something I could work on," Conrad said. "It's just the way I'm holding my hands. We made an adjustment there that keeps me shorter to the ball, allows me to identify pitches better."

But Conrad also did not let himself off the hook quite so easily in blaming the juxtaposition of his Major League struggles with his Minor League triumph on a technical issue.

"It's two different levels as well," he said. "At the big league level, you make a mistake and you're popping balls up and that's the end of your at-bat. You're not going to get many pitches to hit, either, so everything that you're doing wrong gets magnified."

Conrad signed a Minor League deal with the Brewers in January after parting ways with the Braves, the team that gave him his first chance to become a full-time Major Leaguer. The infielder earned the nickname "Clutch Conrad" during the 2010 season in Atlanta for his late-inning heroics.

"I played against [the Brewers] a number of times over the past couple years and I gained a huge amount of respect for the way they go about their business," he said. "The whole team hustles, gets after it, slides into second base, plays scrappy baseball. I thought it'd be nice to be on their side because whenever we faced them, we had to pitch our best to win.

"When they called in the offseason, I thought, 'Yeah, that'd be a good fit,' and wanted to be part of the team."

But everything didn't go according to plan. Conrad lost out on the final utility spot to Travis Ishikawa after hitting .204 (11-for-54) in Spring Training. After being recalled early this month as a replacement for the injured Mat Gamel, he still didn't hit.

Conrad, however, remains optimistic about his chances the rest of the season, especially given his recent power surge.

"I'm happy to still have a job, no matter where it is," he said. "All you can do is ask for a shot somewhere, and I'm glad to have that. I'd obviously love to help the big club at some point, but I'm really enjoying myself. The entire organization has been tremendous."

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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