May 2009

All a-Twitter

There are some thick clouds trying to keep the sun away, but the radar looks clear and it should be a fine day to start this series between National League Central co-leaders. No lineups yet, and it’s well past time to head down to the clubhouse to ask manager Ken Macha what he plans to do with his pitching rotation to cover Monday.

If I get a lineup, I’ll “tweet” it. I know many of you have already figured this out, but I have been posting on Twitter for a couple of weeks and trying to figure out the best way to use it. Instances like this, where there is good info to be had and I’m stuck in the dugout, seem to be it.

I am @AdamMcCalvy

Creative name, I know.

Monday make-up

After a bit of haggling, tonight’s rainout was rescheduled for Monday at 7:15 p.m. CT. The Cardinals would have probably preferred to play on another mutual off-date — Aug. 31.

Both sides had their reasons. The Brewers wanted to leave Aug. 31 open, because filling that date would leave them only two off-days in their final 42 regular-season games. Nobody would say so on the record, but the Brewers would also prefer to play the Cardinals now, while outfielders Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick, infielder Troy Glaus and ace Chris Carpenter are out with injuries.

The Cardinals prefered the later date, both because of those injury concerns and because manager Tony LaRussa had a charity golf tournament scheduled for Monday. Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak met with Brewers representatives after the game was called and the decision to play Monday came shortly thereafter.

Brewers manager Ken Macha will make some pitching decisions on Saturday. Some combination of Yovani Gallardo and Braden Looper will pitch Monday and Tuesday, but the order is not certain.

Brewers-Cardinals postponed

Yovani Gallardo gets a mulligan.

Gallardo surrendered a two-run home run in the bottom of the second inning and was still trying to work out of trouble when the dark clouds that had been descending on Busch Stadium washed those runs away. After a delay of approximately 90 minutes, the Brewers-Cardinals game was postponed.

No makeup date was announced, and a Cardinals spokesperson said that fans should keep their tickets until the game is rescheduled. 

It was Milwaukee’s first rainout this season.

Sheets shows up at Rangers ballpark

Saw this note from my esteemed colleague T.R. Sullivan about Ben Sheets showing up in Arlington to chat with Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux.

Very interesting… The Rangers were close to giving Sheets a two-year deal when a physical exam raised concerns about his elbow. The Brewers ended up on the hook for surgical costs, from what I understand. Sheets told TR that he will see Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday and hopes to get clearance to begin a throwing program.

Sheets is a Dallas-area resident and he is close with Maddux, who was the Brewers’ pitching coach from 2003-08, so the fact he was at Texas’ ballpark doesn’t necessarily mean he will sign with the Rangers. Still, it’s the first we have heard from him for a while so I thought I would pass it along. 

Brewers get punk'd by Hoffman

As if Brewers manager Ken Macha’s hair was not white enough.

Macha had just settled into a comfortable spot on the bench for his daily back-and-forth with the beat writers when, just a few feet away, 41-year-old closer Trevor Hoffman crashed into a cart of baseballs, sent them flying and sprawled in the dirt in apparent pain.

The Brewers’ pregame stretch came to a screeching halt. So did Macha’s media session. Finally, a smile appeared on Hoffman’s face.

“I’ve got old tricks,” Hoffman said a few minutes after pulling off the prank, “but it’s a new place. They all work again. I can pull out my old stuff!”

The Brewers are happy that he appears to be the same old pitcher. Hoffman is off-limits Friday night after pitching in three straight games but will be available again on Saturday as the Brewers and Cardinals continue their series. We chatted with Hoffman in the dugout before today’s game, and I’ll pass along his take on his hot start and, including why he’s throwing so many fastballs, in my preview of Saturday’s game.

Counsell has big numbers vs. Lohse

Craig Counsell is starting at third base tonight over Bill Hall, and it was an easy call for Brewers manager Ken Macha. Counsell is 8-for-16 in his career against Cards starter Kyle Lohse, and Hall is 1-for-15.

Here’s the Milwaukee lineup:

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

Empting the notebook on Gallardo…

I wrote two stories that are floating this morning about Yovani Gallardo, who so far is doing just fine at the front of the Brewers’ starting rotation, thank you. It’s all but impossible to get that kid to talk about himself, so I made some calls to the people who knew him before he was a Brewer.
In the longer feature story, I asked around about what Gallardo was like as a prospect at Trimble Tech High School, where he was by far the best baseball prospect the school had ever seen. Turns out he was the same guy he is today; humble, steady, intense.

That story turned into a monster so I had to cut out some good stuff about Gallardo’s hitting prowess back then, but Gallardo’s old athletic director, a rival coach and the scout who signed him all remember some mammoth home runs. Trimble Tech didn’t have its own baseball field until Gallardo’s senior season, and the new place had a Green Monster-style, 30-foot wall in left field to protect a parking lot. At the far end of the parking lot was an auto body shop, then Henderson Ave., which led to a hospital.

Here’s where the stories varied. Gerry Magin, the athletic director and football coach, remembers a game in which Gallardo hit a pair of home runs that cleared the wall, bounced through the parking lot and up the street to the hospital. Conley Wendt, a rival coach, said that bus drivers were afraid of Gallardo breaking their windshields so they parked against the auto shop, but one day Gallardo hit a ball on the roof of that building. Gallardo himself said he remembered hitting a homer off a friend from another school, but said it went out to center field.

“He wasn’t necessarily a great hitter,” said Larry Doughty, Milwaukee’s national crosschecker at the time, “but he hits guys’ mistakes. He still does that today.”

One other tidbit that got cut out: Some day, Gallardo might become Trimble Tech’s most famous graduate.

The candidates include former Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Henry Ford, who started 14 games in 2000 for a team that went to the Super Bowl. Or “Rod” Roddy, who for nearly 20 years urged contestants on the CBS game show The Price is Right to, “Come on down!” Or how about Wendell Middlebrooks? He’s well- known in Milwaukee as the Miller High Life delivery guy.

In a sidebar that I used as the preview note for tonight’s game in St. Louis, I wrote about how close the Brewers came to not getting Gallardo in the 2004 Draft. I was told that even Gallardo expected the Texas Rangers to take him, and when Texas passed, the Brewers had to decide between Gallardo and another high school right-hander from Wisconsin’s Door County.
Hope you enjoy both stories. I’m off to St. Louis this morning.

Hey Trevor, what year is it?

Did someone turn back the clock to 1998 and forget to tell me?

If you haven’t been watching, Trevor Hoffman has been pitching like he did a decade ago:

  • He’s 8-for-8 in save opportunities and has not allowed a run in his nine Brewers appearances since missing the first month with an oblique strain.
  • He has retired 20 of the last 21 hitters he has faced, and the only hit is an infield single by Pittsburgh’s Nate McLouth on May 4.
  • He’s retired 13 hitters in a row since then, including four consecutive saves in which Hoffman has gone three-up, three-down.
  • He recorded saves in all three games of the just-completed sweep of the Marlins while throwing 32 pitches. Florida hitters managed to get three balls out of the infield and only one was hit hard — a liner to left fielder Ryan Braun on Wednesday night.

Pretty amazing, and no accident. I tried to talk to Hoffman after Thursday’s game but he was still getting treatment in the trainer’s room at 4 p.m. CT, about an hour and 15 minutes before the end of the game.

The rest of the team had already left by then for the airport, where a chartered plane was waiting to take the Brewers to St. Louis. One of the Brewers’ medical interns drove Hoffman separately — at least that was the plan.

I finally gave up… so even the writers are whiffing against this guy. 

Corporan will try to avoid "one-hit wonder" status

UPDATED on 5/17 — Thanks to reader David Schultz for remembering Chris Mabeus, a right-hander who pitched one game in 2006. I updated Mario’s note below. Still, Corporan is the only position player for now. He’d obviously like to change that.

As expected, the Brewers activated catcher Mike Rivera from the 15-day disabled list and optioned Carlos Corporan back to Nashville. Corporan will have to work his way back to Milwaukee to avoid joining a group of “one-hit wonders.”

Mario Ziino, the Brewers’ unofficial historian sent along the following note this morning:

Carlos Corporan, for the time being, is a true one game wonder and the first position player among three to appear in just one Major League game solely as a member of the Brewers. 

Corporan was called up by the Brewers from Triple-A Nashville on April 30 to replace catcher Mike Rivera, who went on the disabled list.  Corporan made his Major League debut on May 6 at Cincinnati and collected a single in his only at bat.  He was optioned to Nashville on May 14 when Rivera was activated.

He joins — for now — pitchers Mike Thomas (1995), Chris Mabeus (2006) and Chris Saenz (2004), who made only one big league appearance in their careers.

Thomas pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief in an 8-2 loss to the White Sox in Chicago on July 12, 1995. He was sent to the Minor Leagues after the game and released after the season. Thomas couldn’t hook up with another team and retired.

Mabeus appeared out of the bullpen on May 29, 2006 at Pittsburgh and couldn’t find the plate. He walked three batters, threw three wild pitches and was charged with four hits, including a homer, and four runs in 1 2/3 innings of a 13-4 Brewers loss. He later retired. 

For Saenz, it was a memorable appearance. Summoned to the Brewers to fill a void in the starting rotation, Saenz took the mound against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 24, 2004 and earned a 3-1 victory by striking out seven batters in six innings at Miller Park.  He allowed just a pair of hits and three walks.  Following the game, Seanz, who jumped from Double-A Huntsville to make his big league debut, was sent back to the Minors. Two months later, he underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, cutting short his career.

Current Brewers outfielder Corey Hart almost became the first position player on the list.  Hart made his big league debut on May 25, 2004, pinch-hitting against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Miller Park.  He struck out, and didn’t get another chance for more than a year.  Hart took his name off the list on Aug. 14, 2005 when he was summoned from Nashville for a second chance. This time he took full advantage of the opportunity, blasting a three-run home run to lead the Brewers to an 8-3 win over the Reds at Miller Park.

Rivera returns, Hart out for finale vs. Florida

Mike Rivera must have passed his test, because the Brewers just sent a notice that he had been activated from the 15-day disabled list. Carlos Corporan, as expected, was returned to Nashville.

No lineups yet, but I presume Rivera will be in there to catch Dave Bush. I will pass them along when they are available.

Here they are:

Bonifacio  3B
Coghlan  LF
Ramirez  SS
Cantu  1B
Baker  C
Uggla  2B
Gload  RF
Amezaga  CF
Johnson  RHP

Weeks  2B
Hardy  SS
Braun  LF
Fielder  1B
Cameron  CF
Hall  3B
Duffy  RF
Rivera  C
Bush  RHP

Just a day off for Hart, who has been struggling at the plate but did spark the Brewers’ game-winning rally on Wednesday night with a two-out walk. Hardy said he felt much better on Thursday, and must have gotten medication in time to avoid a serious migraine headache. He is a bit frustrated by that recurring problem and would like to know why he is having issues with headaches.