When Milwaukee Brewer Manager George Bamberger stepped out of the dugout for his team's batting practice yesterday, Baltimore Oriole Manager Earl Weaver remarked, "Look at that gut! Second place sure has him eating good."

Indeed, all of "Bambi's Bombers" are finding living more comfortable these days as they roll merrily along in the unaccustomed position of second place in the American League East, 4 1/2 games behind leader Boston going into last night's contests.

Life near the top is certainly a novel experience for the Brewers, who have never finished higher than fourth in their nine-year history. The Brewers had a stranglehold on last place the past two seasons.

"We didn't expect to be here," Bamberger stated. "I knew we had the talent, I just didn't think it would jell this soon. We're about a year early."

That is of little consolation to the Red Sox, who are trying to pull out of a two-week slump. Now, in addition to casting wary glances to the south at perennial powers Baltimore and New York, the Red Sox also have to look even more warily to the west.

Bamberger, in his maiden season as a major league manager after coaching Baltimore pitchers for the past nine seasons, has combined a group of young veterans with rookies and second-year players, and good hitting and fielding with get-what-you-can-out-of-it pitching.

"Our pitching is probably the weak point of the team in that we don't have anybody who has been used to winning," Bamberger assessed. "Most of them did not have enough minor of them did not have enough minor league experience. They were called up to the big leagues too early."

The Brewer ace is southpaw Mike Caldwell, 13-5 in his second season with the Brewers after being obtained in a trade from Cincinnati last year. Caldwell, 5-8 last season with a 4.60 ERA, was supposed to be the lefthanded long reliever but impressed Bamberger enough in spring training to earn the starting slot.

Caldwell has parlayed a fast ball and change-up into a 2.38 ERA, third best in the American League.

Right-hander Larry Sorensen, 7-10 in his rookie campaign last season, spearheads the Brewer youth corps of hurlers with a 12-8 mark this year.

Another southpaw, Bill (The Stork) Travers, has won six of his last nine games after starting the season a month late because of an elbow operation in the offseason. Travers, who took his 7-5 record into action last night against the Orioles, is rebounding from a 4-12 slate season.

Jerry Augustine (10-9), another lefty, and rookie Andy Replogle (5-2) are the other Brewer starters.

Bill Castro and Randy Stein head a reliever corps that is, according to Bamberger, always either underworked or overworked.

Fifth-year right fielder Sixto Lezcano leads the Brewer hitters with a .309 average, his first .300-plus season in the majors.

Another southpaw. Billy (The Stork) Travers, has won six of his last nine games after starting the season a month late because of an Travers, who took his 7-5 record into action last night against the Orioles, is rebounding from a 4-12 slate last season.

Jerry Augustine (10-9), another lefty, and rookie Andy Replogle (5-2) are the other Brewer starters.

Bill Castro and Randy Stein head a reliever corps that is, according to Bamberger always either underworked or overworked.

Fifth-year right fielder Sixto Lezcano leads the Brewer hitters with a 309 average, his first .300-plus season in the majors.