May 2009

Gamel back in against Reds' Owings

No major surprises in Ken Macha’s lineup for Sunday’s series finale against the Reds. Left-handed hitters have a .367 average against Micah Owings this season (righties, meanwhile, are hitting .200) so Mat Gamel is in the game at third base. Another lefty hitter, Prince Fielder, who try to hit a first-inning homer for the third straight game.

Here’s the Brewers’ half of today’s lineups:

BREWERS
Craig Counsell  2B
J.J. Hardy  SS
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Mike Cameron  CF
Mat Gamel  3B
Corey Hart  RF
Jason Kendall  C
Yovani Gallardo  RHP

Rivera, Bush battery tonight

As usual, backup catcher Mike Rivera is in the lineup tonight to catch Dave Bush, who is facing the Reds for the first time this season.

The Brewers won’t have to deal with talented Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who was placed on the DL with stress related to an inner-ear condition. Minus the “stress” part of the equation, it sure sounds to me like the problem Ben Sheets faced a few years ago. I’m no doctor, though.

The lineups:

REDS
Chris Dickerson  CF
Jerry Hairston Jr.  3B
Jay Bruce RF
Brandon Phillips  2B
Laynce Nix  LF
Ramon Hernandez  1B
Alex Gonzalez  SS
Ryan Hanigan  C
Aaron Harang  RHP

BREWERS
Craig Counsell  2B
J.J. Hardy  SS
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Mike Cameron  CF
Corey Hart  RF
Bill Hall  3B
Mike Rivera  C
Dave Bush  RHP

Hall, by the way, is 16-for-44 (.364) against Harang with three home runs. That’s why he’s starting at third base over Mat Gamel.

Looper pitched with heavy heart tonight

The Brewers’ Braden Looper pitched seven innings for a win on Friday, and he was working with a heavy heart.

He beat the Reds at Miller Park hours after burying his grandfather, the man who gave him his middle name and his first baseball glove. LaVerne Looper was 84.

“He was kind of like my father,” Braden said after the Brewers’ 3-2 win. “He’s the one who got me started in baseball, so it was good to win the game today.”

He needed some help. Looper lost a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning when he issued a two-out walk to Ryan Hanigan, an in-game replacement for the injured Joey Votto, and Ramon Hernandez followed with a two-run home run. Corey Hart reclaimed the lead for Milwaukee in the bottom of the seventh inning with a solo home run.

Looper called Hart’s homer, “a gift.”

“I had to bury my grandfather yesterday, spoke at the funeral, and today to get the win, it’s special for me,” Looper said. “It’s one of the games I’ll remember for a long time, just because of that.”

The Crew's ultimate warrior finds his tune

All that was missing from Todd Coffey’s entrance was the right musical accompaniment. It appears he’s found it.
Coffey Warrior copy.jpg
Some fans of baseball and professional wrestling have noticed that Coffey made a pair of entrances this week to the same heavy metal riff that used to accompany the Ultimate Warrior, who was known for his all-out race from the smoke-filled arena tunnel to the ring. Coffey doesn’t have any dry ice out in the bullpen, but he makes a similar entrance, sprinting all-out from the bullpen to the mound.

A blogger wisely suggested the connection a month ago, but the idea came from Brewers PR director and walking encyclopedia of pro wrestling Mike Vassallo. Vassallo suggested the song to Coffey and loaded it onto his iPod. 

“I took it home and gave it a listen and it was like, ‘Yeah, this fits,’” Coffey said. “There’s no words and it’s hard, to the point. I said, “This is me. It’s perfect.’”

Vassallo, by the way, also suggested Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” for Jorge Julio. But he can’t take credit for Trevor Hoffman’s use of AC/DC’s “Hells Bells,” though that one also came from a front office. As the story goes, a Padres official, inspired by the film “Major League,” suggested that Hoffman adpot a signature song. After “Hells Bells” debuted on July 25, 1998, it stuck.

Brewers GM: 'No trade discussions going'

Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin still is not looking outside the organization for help at second base, and told reporters this afternoon that he is more than content with veteran Craig Counsell’s play since Rickie Weeks’ season-ending injury.

“I don’t have any trade discussions going with anybody,” Melvin said.

Counsell was back atop the Brewers’ batting order on Friday and could play all three games this weekend against the Reds against a trio of Cincinnati right-handers. Constructing a lineup could become more complicated for manager Ken Macha next week, when the Brewers begin a seven-game road trip to Florida and Atlanta on which they will face at least three lefties.

Macha would like to see right-fielder Corey Hart get hot so he could hit leadoff, but Hart entered Friday’s game batting .176 (12-for-68) over his last 17 games. If Hart stays cold, Macha said he would probably have to start Casey McGehee at second base and batting leadoff against those lefties.

Asked if he would consider Mike Cameron, who batted leadoff under interim manager Dale Sveum last September and in the postseason, Macha said he prefered Cameron in the five-hole.

Counsell considered having surgery for toen cartilige in his right knee near the end of Spring Training but opted against it. It appears he made a very good decision, because Counsell entered Friday’s start batting .350 since since April 25 and .323 (10-for-31) while starting each of the team’s last seven games.

In nine starts as a leadoff hitter, Counsell was batting .275 (11-for-40) entering Friday night with a .293 on-base percentage. He was 0-for-8 with a walk when leading off the game.

“I’m not that worried about it,” Melvin said. “There’s no doubt that we’ll miss Rickie over the course of the summer because of the things he brought to the ballclub. But that’s why we signed Craig Counsell, and I have a lot of confidence in him. He was signed in case somebody got hurt.”

The GM added, “I’m more worried about our right-handed hitters getting on track.”

Gamel back in the lineup vs. Reds

Brewers manager Ken Macha is going with lefty hitter Mat Gamel at third base against Johnny Cueto and the Reds at Miller Park tonight. Gamel is hitless in his last 14 at-bats, but left-handed hitters have had slightly better success against the tough Cueto (.226 average, .711 OPS) than right-handed hitters (.202, .513).

Here are the lineups for the opener of a three-game set:

REDS
Willy Taveras  CF
Jerry Hairston Jr.  2B
Joey Votto  1B
Ramon Hernandez  C
Jay Bruce  RF
Laynce Nix  LF
Alex Gonzalez  SS
Adam Rosales  3B
Johnny Cueto  RHP

BREWERS
Craig Counsell  2B
J.J. Hardy  SS
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Mike Cameron  CF
Mat Gamel  3B
Corey Hart  RF
Jason Kendall  C
Braden Looper  RHP

Braun, Hardy in the lineup today

Thanks to the AP’s fine reporter Colin Fly, who ducked into the clubhouse on his way up to the press box this morning, we get word that both Ryan Braun and J.J. Hardy are in the lineup today. Braun wasn’t sure of his availability last night after he was struck by a pitch on the right wrist, and Hardy had missed the last four games with back spasms.

Frank Catalanotto is also in the lineup for his first Brewers start, in place of the slumping Corey Hart. Mat Gamel is in for the equally-slumping Bill Hall.

If Colin’s memory serves, here’s how the Brewers will go after Todd Wellemeyer today:

Craig Counsell  2B
J.J Hardy SS
Ryan Braun,  LF
Prince Fielder,  1B
Mike Cameron  CF
Frank Catalanotto  RF
Mat Gamel  3B
Jason Kendall  C
Manny Parra  LHP

Braun's x-rays negative, unsure for Wednesday

The Brewers were unsure of Ryan Braun’s availability for Wednesday’s series finale against St. Louis after the left fielder was struck on the right wrist by a pitch Tuesday night and left the game after four innings.

Braun was struck on the outside edge of his arm near the wrist when an Adam Wainwright fastball sailed inside in the bottom of the third inning, but he played another frame before Frank Catalanotto took over in left field at the start of the fifth. Braun underwent x-rays at Miller Park, which were negative.

“Nothing’s broken,” Braun said. “We’ll see how it feels tomorrow. … It’s a dangerous area to get hit in. You don’t want to get hit in the wrist because you don’t have much protection. But, it happens.”
 
Working against Braun is that Wednesday’s game begins at noon CT, 14 hours after Tuesday’s final out.

“The team is 25 guys so everybody has got to pitch in,” Macha said. “If Brauny is out tomorrow, then Catalanotto will be in there. That’s why he came over here, to fill-in when guys get hurt.”

Time to revive the "mailbag"

I’d like to revive the old mailbag for Thursday’s off-day with a new feature we’re calling “Inbox,” which makes a whole lot more sense if you ask me. But my inbox is empty, so consider this a call for questions.

Post your question in the comments and I will run through them tomorrow and pick a bunch to include. As always, thanks for reading.

-Adam

Still no Hardy in Brewers lineup

Brewers manager Ken Macha expected to get shortstop J.J. Hardy back in the lineup today, but it didn’t happen. I’ll pass along details when I get them.

For now, here are the lineups:

CARDINALS
Skip Schumaker  2B
Chris Duncan  LF
Albert Pujols  1B
Yadier Molina  C
Colby Rasmus  CF
Khalil Greene  SS
Nick Stavinoha  RF
Adam Wainwright  RHP
Joe Thurston  3B

BREWERS
Craig Counsell  SS
Casey McGehee  2B
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Mike Cameron  CF
Corey Hart  RF
Bill Hall  3B
Jason Kendall  C
Jeff Suppan  RHP

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