May 2009

"Tommy John" surgery likely for Riske

Brewers reliever David Riske had a setback in his recovery from a right elbow injury and likely will need reconstructive surgery that would end his season, assistant general manager Gord Ash said Tuesday.

Riske has an appointment with Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles on Monday, at which point a decision will be made regarding “Tommy John” surgery. Such a procedure would sideline Riske for up to a year.

“The likelihood is that he will have a reconstruction,” Ash said.

Riske has been on the disabled list since the second week in April because of pain in his elbow and later was diagnosed with laxity, or looseness, of the ulnar collateral ligament. Riske was examined by both Dr. William Raasch, Milwaukee’s head team physician, and Yocum, a noted orthopedist based in Los Angeles, and opted for a course of rehabilitation to strengthen the joint.

It appears that course didn’t work, because Riske reported what Ash called “ongoing pain” in his elbow during a weekend appearance at extended Spring Training.

The Brewers have said from the beginning that Riske’s options were rehab or surgery, but Riske disputed during the team’s last road trip that surgery was ever discussed. Ash was surprised by those comments. 

“I don’t know what he was doing, because the diagnoses from both Dr. Raasch and Dr. Yocum were that he had a ligament issue and that if he rehabbed first and it didn’t work, he would have a reconstruction,” Ash said on Tuesday.  

In an unrelated matter, Ash said that outfielder Chris Duffy had accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A Nashville and would report there beginning Wednesday.

Macha reacts to ESPN criticism

Brewers manager Ken Macha must have heard that the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball crew was criticizing his relatively mild-mannered reaction to events in the seventh inning of Milwaukee’s series-ending loss to the Twins. On Monday, Macha offered a bit of a defense.

Here’s the background: The Brewers trailed, 2-1, in the bottom of the seventh when a Mitch Stetter pitch came high and tight on Twins catcher Joe Mauer and struck either his hand or his bat. Mauer reacted as if it hit his hand, but the plate umpire, Adrian Johnson, ruled it was a foul tip.

That prompted an animated argument from both Mauer and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who somehow convinced Johnson to change his call to hit by pitch. That, in turn, prompted a visit from an angry Macha, who wasn’t able to secure a similar reversal.

The next hitter was Justin Morneau, who blasted a grand slam. The guys in the television booth, particularly former Mets GM Steve Phillips, though Macha should have argued more forcefully.

“Basically, what I said to him was a bunch of words that I think if I say that normally, I’m thrown out immediately,” Macha said. “Regardless of what I said last night, I don’t know if I’m going to get thrown out because deep, down inside, I think the guy knew he made a mistake. So, what are you going to do? Yell and scream and kick dirt and act like a fool? I said my piece very loudly and emphatically. That’s it.”

As he told reporters Sunday night, Macha was not as upset about the call as how the call was handled.

“You see that a lot. A guy says, ‘I got hit by that pitch,’ and the ump says, ‘Take your glove off, let me look at it,'” Macha said. “They take a look, see a mark and send the guy to first base. That happens a lot.

“As I said after the game, everyone lives and dies with their decisions in the big leagues. If I bring in a pitcher and the guy gives up a grand slam, that’s my decision. I made it, and I’m going to live by that or die by that. That decision [in the Mauer at-bat] was made; it was a foul ball. You’re going to live and die by that, and [the umpire] should have done that.”

Gamel, not Hall starts at 3B

Are we seeing the real start of the Mat Gamel era in Milwaukee today?  Manager Ken Macha is playing Gamel at third base today against the Cards’ Chris Carpenter and leaving Hall on the bench, the surest sign yet that the manager is running out of patience with Hall’s struggles against right-handed pitching.

Skip Schumaker  2B
Colby Rasmus  CF
Albert Pujols  1B
Chris Duncan  LF
Nick Stavinoha  RF
Yadier Molina  C
Joe Thurston  3B
Chris Carpenter  RHP
Brendan Ryan  SS

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

Catalanotto called up

The Brewers purchased veteran outfielder Frank Catalanotto’s contract from Double-A Huntsville on Monday morning and will have him in uniform for their Memorial Day series opener against the Cardinals.

To make room, left-hander R.J. Swindle was optioned back to Nashville for the second time this season. Swindle had been promoted to help handle the Twins’ stable of left-handed hitters during the Brewers’ Interleague Series in Minnesota.

Catalanotto, signed to a Minor League deal earlier this month, went 3-for-12 with a pair of doubles in three games at Huntsville. He is a left-handed hitter.

Prospect Lawrie suffers broken nose

Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash “tweeted” yesterday that prospect Brett Lawrie suffered a broken nose on Thursday night when a batted ball took a bad hop. Lawrie, you’ll remember, switched from catching to second base over the winter. According to Ash, Lawrie is “not expected to miss any significant time.”

What is it about Brewers prospects and broken noses? Last year, Taylor Green suffered the same injury on a bad hop during the Arizona Fall League.

Lawrie, the Brewers’ first-round Draft pick last year, has been very good for Class A Wisconsin this season. He is batting .281 with 15 extra-base hits including five home runs, and has driven in 28 runs in 40 games. He also has 11 stolen bases.

In a seperate post on Twitter, Ash noted that reliever David Riske’s scheduled outing in extended Spring Training in Phoenix was rained out. Riske, on the DL with a right elbow injury, was scheduled to throw again today. Not sure if this means they will now push Monday’s scheduled follow-up outing to Tuesday.

Up to No. 8!

Just saw the newly updated list of leaders in the MLBlogsphere and we’re up to No. 8 among the beat writers. Thanks to everyone for following the stuff here, and on the main site, and on Twitter. I read all of the comments and I appreciate those of you who have joined the discussion.

Interesting roster move coming today/tomorrow for the Brewers. I imagine they will make some sort of move with Chris Duffy, which would be too bad after his nice Spring Training. The only other option I could think of is Jorge Julio, who has a very good arm but walks way too many batters for manager Ken Macha’s tastes. Casey McGehee has Minor League options, but I wonder if Bill Hall reached the end of the rope tonight against Oswalt and we’ll start seeing McGehee more at third base.

Anyway, intriguing days are ahead, and I just wanted to stop to say I appreciate all of you who have joined in. I’m trying to be better about integrating the blog and the “tweets” into my coverage, and it’s a work in progress.


[Should have mentioned that I’m headed home this morning and won’t have the Minny series. You’re in good hands, and I’ll catch everybody on Memorial Day back at Miller Park.]

Brewers call on LHP Swindle for Twins series

Doug Melvin watched with a bit of angst as the Twins put 20 runs on the scoreboard against the White Sox on Thursday. In advance of his own club’s weekend series in Minnesota, Melvin called for another weapon.

The Brewers recalled left-hander R.J. Swindle from Triple-A Nashville after a 4-3 win over the Astros, giving manager Ken Macha two lefty bullpen arms for the likes of Minnesota’s Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel. Swindle will be in uniform on Friday night at the Metrodome.

To make room, the team optioned infielder Hernan Iribarren back to Nashville after just three days in the big leagues. Brewers officials figured that with the designated hitter rule in effect, the extra arm was needed more than the extra bench player.

“In particular, I’m looking at Kubel,” Macha said. “He’s just absolutely killing right-handers. Just killing them. That might be a spot where you waste a pitcher on one hitter.”

Kubel is hitting .365 against right-handers with all five of his home runs.

Swindle, who works with a looping curveball that sometimes crosses the plate at 55 mph, has surrendered only one run in 16 1/3 innings at Nashville spanning 11 games. In one game with the Brewers on April 21 in Philadlephia, he was charged with a run on two hits in 1 1/3 innings.

Iribarren did not play in the Brewers’ first two-games in Houston, but he played the final four innings Thursday night after a double-switch and actually squeezed the final out. Iribarren struck out in both of his plate appearances.

“I told the guys there may be some yo-yos in Nashville,” Melvin said. “They understand that.”

Gwynn's former teammates on trade

Some comments from Tony Gwynn Jr.’s former Brewers teammates on today’s trade:

“I think if there’s any place he can go and be successful, he found it
[in San Diego],” closer Trevor Hoffman said. “He’ll be admired, and it’s almost like
he’s one of their own because he grew up in their clubhouse.”

Hoffman last spoke to Gwynn in April during a rehabilitation assignment with Nashville. That was after Gwynn expressed his disappointment about being removed from the 40-man roster.

“To Anthony’s credit, the four days I was with him in Memphis he was
very determined to do things right and prove Milwaukee wrong, prove to
other teams that he belonged in the big leagues,” Hoffman said. “I
admired the way he was going about it.”

Mat Gamel: “You never saw signs of disappointment,” said Gamel, who was Gwynn’s Triple-A teammate until a promotion to Milwaukee last week. “He was a positive guy, seemed to always find the best in any situation. I had a lot of long talks with Tony about everything, life in general and the game of baseball. [On the field], he was really the pace-setter for us.” 

Prince Fielder: “I’m happy for him,” said Fielder, Gwynn’s closest Brewers teammate. “I bet he’s happy. I thought he played well at [Nashville] and really stayed focused. It’s a credit to him, a show of how professional he is.”

Melvin had been after Gerut for a while

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin tried to acquire Padres outfielder Jody Gerut last season for Milwaukee’s stretch drive. He finally succeeded on Thursday, when four days of trade talks resulted in San Diego sending Gerut and what’s left of his $1.775 million salary for Tony Gwynn Jr.

“I’ve always liked his bat,” Melvin said of Gerut. “He’s not swinging it well right now, but he’s knocked in 14 runs. They’re different kinds of players. Tony and Gerut. This guy [Gerut] will drive the ball, hit some homers and doubles.”

Melvin spoke via telephone with Gwynn on Thursday afternoon. The Padres intend to promote Gwynn to the Major League roster.

“I’m sure it will be special for him [to play in San Diego],” Melvin said. “I do hope people don’t put too much pressure on him, think that he’s going to get 3,000 hits like his father. That’s the thing he’s up against a little bit, but I said he should enjoy it and I think he will enjoy it.”

As promised, Hall back at third base

Brewers manager Ken Macha stayed true to his word and is starting Bill Hall tonight against right-hander Roy Oswalt, leaving Mat Gamel’s left bat on the bench. Macha promised Hall regular playing time in the series in Houston to see if Hall could get his own bat going against right-handed hitters.

We’ll ask Macha for some further thoughts in a few hours, but I wonder if Hall might continue to play in Minnesota this weekend against a trio of Twins righty starters. Craig Counsell will presumably play second base, and I imagine Macha will use Gamel as the DH. That leaves two right-handed hitters — Hall and Casey McGehee — for third base. Hall has played tremendous defense, and that might give him the nod.

Anyway, here is tonight’s lineups:

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

Michael Bourn  CF
Jeff Keppinger  2B
Lance Berkman  1B
Carlos Lee  LF
Hunter Pence  RF
Miguel Tejada  SS
Geoff Blum  3B
Ivan Rodriguez  C
Roy Oswalt  RHP