Durham working out, would consider Crew offer

Free agent second baseman Ray Durham is hitting and working out at home in North Carolina and would consider returning to Milwaukee, according to his agent, but it appears the Brewers will instead try filling Rickie Weeks’ absence from within.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin touched base Tuesday with Durham’s Chicago-based agent, Ed Setlik, about Durham, who was traded from San Francisco to Milwaukee last July and hit .280 in 41 regular-season games for the Brewers.

“Yes he wants to play, but the questions are better directed to the GM,” Setlik said. “If Mr. Melvin has an idea that he might want Ray to step in, the chances are good that there would be a match. But it all starts with Mr. Melvin.”

Durham reportedly turned down an offer from the Washington Nationals over the winter. Setlik would not speculate the type of financial commitment needed to lure Durham out of free agency.

“That wouldn’t be appropriate,” Setlik said. “First, there has to be a need. Then the financials can be discussed. Doing it any other way is putting the cart before the horse. But he had a very good experience there, and I think he would be open to talking.”

Durham has not faced big league pitching since last October so he would need time to get into game shape. So would fellow veteran free agent Damion Easley, whose agent reached out to Melvin on Tuesday.

A third available player, Mark Grudzielanek, may be less appealing to Brewers officials because he suffered some back problems last season in Kansas City.

“Right now, Craig Counsell is doing a good job, and Casey McGehee is starting [at second base] today,” Melvin said Tuesday afternoon, before the start of the Brewers-Astros series. The other internal option is Hernan Iribarren, prompted earlier in the day from Triple-A Nashville.

The Brewers will give those players a chance before looking at the free agents. The trade market could also be a possibility, but it is difficult to make deals this early in the season, Melvin said.

“Rickie is back next year, so it’s not like you want a guy who’s going to be here [long-term],” Melvin said. “It’s an injury, and that’s why you have depth on your team and in the organization.”

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