AP Story: Hawk Knows Baseball, Too


A.J. Hawk threw out the first pitch prior to the Brewers-Dodgers game at Miller Park, Wednesday.

A.J. Hawk has no plans to join Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson as a two-sport athlete.

But the Green Bay Packers' linebacker showed he was no slouch after a 10-year layoff on Wednesday when he took batting practice at Miller Park before the Milwaukee Brewers played the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After swinging wildly in the first round, Brewers hitting coach Jim Skaalen told him to keep his head down, and the 6-foot-1, 247-pound Hawk hit two balls out of the park.

"I was glad I hit a couple of out. I wasn't sure if I could do that with a wooden bat, because I really have never hit with a wooden bat," he said. "You definitely get tired doing this. It's a different type of conditioning than football."

Hawk, who said he last played organized baseball when he was 13 as a pitcher and a shortstop, was at the park as part of a sponsor promotion.

"I'm a football player, but this is fun," he said. "I'll do this anytime they want me to."

Hawk, 23, threw out the first pitch, appearing to try to throw it as hard as he could from the mound. It bounced a couple of feet in front of the plate.

Hawk, the Packers' top draft pick last year out of Ohio State, also got a fair amount of teasing from the Brewers, who watched him and gave him some good natured catcalls, including manager Ned Yost.

"He got so good, we were giving him situations out there," Yost deadpanned. "You know, bases loaded, two outs, hit a pitch. He hit a bullet, an absolute bullet that would have been right at the third baseman.

"You can tell, he's an athlete to be able to come out here and swing the bat like that. It's pretty impressive."

Skaalen didn't take credit for the marked improvement against pitching coach Mike Maddux, who played for 15 years before getting into coaching.

"I told him to stare him down and make him start throwing pitches down the middle," Skaalen said of his advice to Hawk, who decided to focus on football and basketball while in high school.

But the Brewers players have an affinity for football. Geoff Jenkins is close friends with Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher and proudly shows off the fantasy football trophy he's won each of the last four seasons. Meanwhile, former Auburn quarterback and current Brewer Gabe Gross tosses a pigskin before games with Kevin Mench.

Hawk, who said he'd never met any of the players before Wednesday, was able to dispell one popular comparision - Jenkins' resemblence to Brett Favre.

"I didn't think of that when I met him," Hawk said.

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