June 2009

Hart leading off, Hall at 3rd vs. lefty Zito

Corey Hart is hitting first and Bill Hall is getting the start at third base tonight for the Brewers against Giants’ left-handed starter Barry Zito (4-7, 4.54 ERA).

Craig Counsell, who is currently riding a nine-game hitting streak, is getting the day off with the lefty on the mound. Jason Kendall also is getting the day off, giving Mike Rivera the start behind home plate in Seth McClung’s first start of the season.

Here’s the full lineup for the Brewers:
Corey Hart RF
J.J. Hardy SS
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 2B
Mike Cameron CF
Mike Rivera C
Bill Hall 3B
Seth McClung, RHP

-Cash

UPDATED: Jeffress reportedly suspended for failed drug test

UPDATE: Adam was able to get a hold of Jeffress’ agent, Joshua Kusnick, who confirmed the suspension.

—————–

Jeremy Jeffress, the Brewers’ first round pick in the 2006 First Year Player Draft, has reportedly been suspended 100 games for using a banned substance, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has reported.

This would be the second time the 21-year-old right-handed pitcher has tested positive for a banned substance. Jeffress served a 50-game suspension in 2007 for testing positive for a banned substance, which he later admitted was marijuana.

Under the Minor League Drug Treatment and Protection program, players who test positive a third time face a lifetime ban.

Jeffress was the Brewers’ 18th overall pick in the 2006 First Year Player Draft and is ranked as the organization’s fourth best prospect, according to Baseball America. He began the season with Double-A Huntsville, struggling with a record of 1-3 and 7.57 ERA.

He was demoted to Advanced-A Brevard County last month, where he was 2-1 with a 2.18 ERA.

-Cash

McGehee to bat fifth in series opener

The lineups are up early here at Miller Park, with a bit of a different batting order for the Brewers. The biggest change is that Casey McGehee has moved up to the fifth spot in the lineup, replacing Corey Hart, who will bat seventh.

Putting McGehee behind Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun definitely makes sense, as McGehee is hitting .385 during his last 25 games. With his two-run homer on Thursday, McGehee brings some needed pop to the fifth slot, replacing Hart, who is hitless (0-for-12) so far in the homestand.

With McGehee batting fifth, J.J. Hardy is back in the two-slot after
spending the last few games in the bottom half of the order.

Here’s Friday’s full lineup:
Craig Counsell 2B
J.J. Hardy SS
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Mike Cameron CF
Corey Hart RF
Jason Kendall C
Yovani Gallardo RHP

And the Giants’ lineup also is in early:
Aaron Rowand CF
Randy Winn LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Bengie Molina C
Travis Ishikawa 1B
Nate Schierholtz RF
Juan Uribe SS
Matt Downs 2B
Matt Cain RHP

-Cash

Introducing another Brew Beat blogger

Cash.jpgWanted to interrupt the Brewers-Twins finale to bring you Cash Kruth, our associate reporter here in Milwaukee this summer. He is between his junior and senior years at Michigan State University — don’t hold that against him — and was named after Tigers slugger Norm Cash — considering the Brewers’ showing in Detroit, don’t hold that against him, either. You may have seen his writing here, or here, or here.

You will be seeing his name more throughout the next two months, including on this blog, so I wanted to finally give him a proper introduction. You can reach him via e-mail at Cash.Kruth@gmail.com.

Now back to the game…

– Adam

"Excellent"

100276794_548c83c4eb.jpgBrewers PR boss Mike Vassallo channeled his inner “Simpsons” fan and suggested to the scoreboard crew that they use audio of Mr. Montgomery Burns for every strikeout by new starter Mike Burns.

Burns just struck out Joe Mauer to end the top of the first inning, and they pulled it off.

Say it with me: “Excellent.”

Love it. I hope he strikes out 20.

Burns set for first MLB start

A familiar Brewers lineup will try to score some runs today for right-hander Mike Burns, who is up from Triple-A Nashville for the 47th Major League appearance but his first start.

No Twins lineup just yet, but they will have tough right-hander Scott Baker on the mound for the rubber match of the series. It’s the Brewers’ Interleague season finale, but the Twins go on to St. Louis from here.

Craig Counsell  2B
Casey McGehee  3B
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Corey Hart  RF
Mike Cameron  CF
J.J. Hardy  SS
Jason Kendall  C
Mike Burns  RHP

Braddock overcoming physical, mental hurdles

Brewers pitching prospect Zach Braddock has been healthy this season, both in body and mind, and some promising results have followed.

The Brewers promoted Braddock to Double-A Huntsville on Wednesday after the left-hander posted a 1.14 ERA and 40 strikeouts versus just four walks in 14 relief appearances at Class A Brevard County. Opponents hit .143 against the hard-throwing Braddock.

Braddock has been limited by physical injuries since the Brewers drafted him in the 18th round of the 2005 Draft and by a bipolar disorder that requires medication. But in terms of pure “stuff,” he’s a bona fide Major League prospect.

“He can dominate,” Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said. “There have been a number of reports this year [that say] he could pitch in the big leagues. He has that kind of dominating stuff. Obviously, being left-handed helps. It’s a matter of being consistent, like it is with a lot of young guys.”

Assuming he stays physically and mentally healthy, Braddock could move fast through the system. He turns 22 on Aug. 23.

“Which is why we moved him to Double-A, to get him to that next level,” Ash said.

Club officials help “monitor” Braddock, Ash said. That involves making sure he takes the proper medication at the proper time.  

“He’s in a very good spot,” Ash said. “He’s monitored, and he’s had no issues at all. … He’s in a good place.”

In other Minor League transactions Wednesday:

– Right-hander Rob Wooten joined Braddock in a move from Brevard County to Huntsville. Wooten doesn’t possess the raw tools of Braddock, but, “If you throw strikes, you’ve got a chance,” Ash said. “Chris Smith shows it now.”

– The Brewers promoted right-hander John Axford from Double-A Huntsville to Nashville to replace right-hander Mike Burns, who went to Milwaukee to join the starting rotation. Axford has been rising fast; he pitched in just four games for Huntsville after a promotion from Brevard County.

– Class A Wisconsin closer Jim Henderson was promoted to Brevard County after going 17-for-17 in save chances. Henderson is a veteran Minor Leaguer.

– Right-hander Omar Aguilar is not, which made it somewhat disappointing when he was demoted from Huntsville to Brevard County. Aguilar, who is on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster, had a 7.71 ERA in 23 relief appearances.

“Player development will do this,” Ash said. “There are surprises upward, and there are surprises downward. We had [Jeremy] Jeffress, [Alex] Periard and Aguilar, all guys we’re high on but all who will end up in A-ball right now. Then there’s guys who have taken a step forward. Axford has taken a step forward. Josh Butler has taken a step forward. Braddock. Chris Cody. Several guys have taken a step.”

– Right-hander R.J. Seidel, a Wisconsin native, will begin a throwing program at the Brewers’ baseball facility in Arizona later this week. He’s ahead of schedule after undergoing offseason surgery for a torn ACL. Seidel told the Brewers he hurt his knee slipping on some ice.

“He’ll salvage a month or so of the season,” Ash said.

– Right-hander Mike Jones, on the Huntsville DL with a medical issue that Ash said was of a personal nature, will throw a bullpen session to see how he feels before potentially returning to action next week. 

– Left-hander Chris Capuano, rehabbing from the second Tommy John surgery of his career, threw his first bullpen session this week and hasn’t had another setback, Ash said. Capuano still faces a long road; he’ll have to throw several bullpens, then a series of live batting practice sessions before he’s cleared to pitch in a game. That probably won’t happen until the end of August, just as the Minor League seasons are ending.

“It’s just a long, slow grind,” Ash said. “He gets full marks for grinding it out.”

Arnett prepares for pro debut

I wasn’t sure about Twitter at first, but I’m learning to love it.

Where else can you get a glimpse into the lives of the world’s best athletes? Like Eric Arnett, the Brewers’ first round Draft pick who will make his professional debut tonight for rookie-level Helena. Here’s what he wrote an hour ago:

Bout to get some Pizza Hut before the game

Ah, the lunch of champions. Here’s to a successful debut for the kid, who was a pleasure to meet at Miller Park last week.

Gamel hitting in two-hole

It seems like Brewers manager Ken Macha has had more trouble filling the two-hole this season than any other spot. Tonight, Mat Gamel will give it a try.

Gamel will become the eighth different Brewer to start a game at that position in the order when the Brewers try to snap a four-game skid against Nick Blackburn and the Twins at Miller Park. Here are the others, with the team’s record in their two-hole starts: Corey Hart (12-10), J.J. Hardy (12-8), Craig Counsell (7-4), Casey McGehee (3-7), Bill Hall (2-2), Frank Catalanotto (0-2) and Chris Duffy (1-0).

And here’s the lineup:

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

With Mike Burns scheduled to make his first Major League start on Thursday, the Brewers badly need Braden Looper to pitch deep into the game tonight. That hasn’t been the trend for the Brewers, who led the Majors with 25 so-called “quality starts” over their first 39 games but have produced just eight over their last 31 games through Tuesday.

AND ONE MORE THING…  The pre-game media notes still have “TBA” listed to start for the Brewers on Saturday. He stinks, so I’m guessing that Macha will name someone — Seth McClung, anyone? — today to take that turn. If he does that while we’re down on the field, I’ll post a note on Twitter

In the Minors: Parra, Seidl, Helena, etc…

Bunch of happenings down on the farm tonight:

- Manny Parra took a tough loss in his second Triple-A start. He didn’t allow a run until the seventh inning in Albuquerque, and retired Manny Ramirez in both of the slugger’s plate appearances, but was on the wrong end of the decision in the Sounds’ 1-0 loss to the Isotopes. Parra threw 59 of his 93 pitches for strikes and allowed a run on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts. The lone run scored on a two-out single off Parra. 

- Rookie-level Helena played their season-opener tonight behind Nick Bucci, who allowed only one run on three hits in five good innings with four strikeouts and — follow his lead, kids — no walks.

- A couple of 2009 Draft picks were enjoying big professional debuts as of this writing. Second-rounder Cameron Garfield started his career with hits in his first five at-bats, and three RBIs. Nineteenth rounder Scott Krieger hit a three-run homer. Thirty-second rounder Chris Ellington was a double shy of the cycle, scored three runs and drove in a pair.

- Eric Arnett, Milwaukee’s first-round Draft pick earlier this month, will make his pro debut on Wednesday night. He’s wearing uniform No. 95, according to his Twitter feed. “Dont think ill be keeping that one forever,” Arnett wrote.

- Right-hander R.J. Seidel is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with the rookie-level Arizona Brewers on Wednesday. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told us in April that Seidel was out for the year after “tearing up” his knee when he slipped on some ice over the winter, but perhaps that assessment has changed. Seidel is a Wisconsin native drafted in the 16th round by the Brewers in 2006.
 

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