July 2009

Bush outstanding in his Minors debut

Dave Bush’s Minor League rehabilitation assignment was off to a rousing start on Friday, when the Brewers right-hander pounded the strike zone throughout a successful 4 2/3 inning stint for Class A Wisconsin.

Working for Milwaukee’s Midwest League affiliate about 100 miles north of Miller Park, Bush scattered four hits and allowed one unearned run in his return to action from a right triceps injury. He struck out five West Michigan Whitecaps and threw 43 of his 53 pitches — 81 percent — for strikes.

Bush had a 1-0 lead until the fifth inning, when an error by third baseman Jose Duran contributed to an unearned run. The Timber Rattlers rallied for a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the inning, but Bush was already out of the game.

Bush has been on the Brewers’ disabled list since June 23 but his injury dates back to June 4, when he was struck on the upper arm by a Hanley Ramirez line drive in Florida. 

Hart still sidelined for Dodgers opener

Remember what I wrote yesterday about Corey Hart expecting to return to the lineup tonight? You know, the story headlined, “Hart to return from foot injury on Friday.”

Never mind.

The Brewers’ lineup for their series opener against the Dodgers is up, and Hart isn’t in it. He’s 0-for-6 against Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley, so maybe it’s a match-up thing (Frank Catalanotto has never faced the L.A. righty). Or, maybe Hart still isn’t healthy.

All kinds of other things going on in the lineup (though this is similar to ones we’ve seen manager Ken Macha use before). Jason Kendall is hitting leadoff for the fourth time, and shortstop J.J. Hardy, 1-for-11 so far on the homestand, is back down in the eight-hole.

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

'Whipped puppy' shows some teeth

Brewers manager Ken Macha likened lefty Manny Parra to a “whipped puppy” when the team demoted him to the Minors on June 13. After he returned to the Majors with seven scoreless innings on Thursday, Parra was asked if he agreed with the manager’s assment.

“Whipped puppy. That kind of makes you feel like a kid, so I don’t like it,” Parra said. “Bottom line is I was struggling.”

He was much better against the Cardinals, even if he had to settle for a no-decision in a dishearting 5-1 loss at Miller Park. Parra allowed only three singles and one walk alongside seven strikeouts, and he threw 77 of his 110 pitches for strikes.

The Brewers expect Dave Bush to return from the disabled list soon after the All-Star break — Bush is to pitch Friday for Class A Wisconsin — but Parra could further boost the starting rotation if he stays on track.

“If that’s what we’re going to be looking at in the second half, it would be a welcome sight,” Macha said.

“It’s going to help a lot,” said first baseman Prince Fielder, who had a run-in with Parra
last season in the dugout at Cincinnati but praised the pitcher’s
effort on Thursday. “You saw the way he was, so hopefully he can keep
it going.”

They key was confidence.

“I was aggressive,” Parra said. “It came down to being confident and trusting that I can throw the ball over the plate. We put them into counts where they had to swing the bat. Before, I was trying to make perfect pitches. Today, I just trusted it and went with it.”


Parra returns to face Cardinals

Manny Parra is back, and Brewers coaches are trying to make his start against the Cardinals as normal as possible to avoid putting too much pressure on the left-hander. That said, it’s a big start for Parra as he tries to reclaim his spot in Milwaukee’s starting rotation.

Corey Hart is out of the lineup for a second straight day after fouling a pitch off his left foot in Tuesday’s series opener against the Cardinals, but x-rays were negative and he said he should be back in against the Dodgers on Friday night.

So Frank Catalanotto starts in place of Hart, and catcher Mike Rivera, who had not played a single inning since June 27, gets a rare chance to play. Bill Hall is not on-site today because he traveled home to Mississippi for a family funeral.

Brendan Ryan  SS
Colby Rasmus  CF
Albert Pujols  1B
Ryan Ludwick  RF
Nick Stavinoha  LF
Yadier Molina  C
Jarrett Hoffpauir  2B
Joel Pineiro  RHP
Brian Barden  3B

Craig Counsell  2B
J.J. Hardy  SS
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Mike Cameron  CF
Frank Catalanotto  RF
Mike Rivera  C
Manny Parra  LHP

Parra back up, Narveson designated for assignment

Manny Parra will return from his demotion to Triple-A Nashville to start against the Cardinals on Thursday. 

Not necessarily that he’s ready, but because the Brewers need him. 

“He’s pitched a couple of good games,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said of Parra’s Minors stint. “He’ll be given the opportunity to take charge of what we’d like him to take charge of, and that’s being a guy who’s going to start for us every fifth day.”

Parra will take the spot previously occupied by Seth McClung, who worked 7 1/3 total innings in his two starts. To make room on the 25-man roster, the Brewers designated left-hander Chris Narveson for assignment after their 5-4 win over the Cardinals on Wednesday night.

I did not see Parra in the clubhouse, but I imagine he made it to Milwaukee at some point during the day or the team would not have announced the roster move. 

Bush to begin rehab Friday in Appleton

Injured right-hander Dave Bush is scheduled to make a pair of Minor League rehabilitation starts before returning to the Brewers’ rotation on July 20, manager Ken Macha said on Wednesday. 

Bush, who has been on the disabled list since June 23 with a right triceps injury, threw another side session on Wednesday and is on track to pitch three or four innings on Friday for Class A Wisconsin, the Brewers’ newest affiliate just 100 miles up the road from Miller Park. 

Assuming that outing goes well, Bush will start again on July 15 for Double-A Huntsville. Then, assuming he gets through that outing without a setback, Bush could re-join the Brewers for the opener of a three-game series in Pittsburgh on Monday, June 20. 

“We’re going to evaluate it every step of the way,” Macha said. 

Bush will become the first Brewer to make a rehab appearance for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who play their home games in Grand Chute, Wis., just outside of Appleton. The Brewers and Timber Rattlers signed a four-year player development contract during the offseason. 

In April, the Brewers offered closer Trevor Hoffman a chance to make an appearance at Wisconsin when he was coming back from a rib-cage injury, but Hoffman opted to pitch against higher-level competition for Triple-A Nashville.

Randolph suspended for Game 2 against Cardinals

Brewers bench coach Willie Randolph was suspended for Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals and fined an undisclosed amount for what Major League Baseball called “inappropriate actions” during his argument with plate umpire Bill Hohn in Tuesday’s series opener.

Randolph was one of two Brewers coaches ejected by Hohn in the span of four pitches, but Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum was not disciplined further. Both men were upset at check-swing calls by Hohn, who called out Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo on check-swing strike to end the second inning but then ruled that Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols held up three pitches into the third.

Sveum, who was ejected after the call on Gallardo, and Randolph, who was sent to the showers after the non-call on Pujols, became the first Brewers ejected since Mike Cameron was tossed by umpire Marvin Hudson in Atlanta on June 6. Cameron drew a two-game suspension, but appealed it down to one game.

Unlike players, coaches do not have the right of appeal.

Randolph will take part in the Brewers’ pregame workout today but then must vacate the clubhouse by game time. Speaking of the game, here are the lineups:

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

Craig Counsell  2B
J.J. Hardy  SS
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Frank Catalanotto  RF
Mike Cameron  CF
Mat Gamel  3B
Jason Kendall  C
Jeff Suppan  RHP

Melvin "open" but "realistic" about Halladay

Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi says he will listen to offers for ace right-hander Roy Halladay. Might Brewers GM Doug Melvin, who is once again looking to trade for a pitcher, make a call?

“I’m open to talking about anybody,” Melvin said on Tuesday. “I’m also realistic to know that not everybody is available all the time.”

Here is what our MLB.com Blue Jays beat writer, Jordan Bastian, wrote today on that topic:

Halladay’s name has been floated in trade rumors in the past, but this is the first time Ricciardi has openly admitted that he’s willing to consider dealing the right-hander. Halladay is signed through 2010 and Ricciardi has maintained that the Jays plan on discussing a contract extension with the pitcher this coming offseason. …

After learning about Ricciardi’s comments, Halladay met with the media prior to Tuesday’s game against the Rays at Tropicana Field. Halladay wanted to address the issue once, getting it out of the way with the hope that the development would not become a distraction.

Asked if he was more open to potentially being traded now than in the past, Halladay grimaced and hesitated before answering.

“That’s tough. That’s a tough question to answer, honestly,” Halladay said. “I want to stay here, but I think when an organization is kind of thinking that maybe we kind of want to go this direction, and it’s a situation that suits the team and yourself, then you have to evaluate that and say, ‘Maybe this is the best thing.’ I’m really not in that situation yet.”

Halladay is under contract this season for $14.25 million and is scheduled to make $15.75 million next year in the final season of his current contract. His deal also includes a full no-trade clause.

Melvin wasn’t sure about that last point when he spoke via telephone on Tuesday evening.

“I don’t know his situation, if he has a total no-trade [clause],” Melvin said. “I’d have to get more information.”

Does the fact Halladay would not just be a two- or three-month rental, like CC Sabathia was for the Brewers last year, make him easier or more difficult to discuss?

“What made the CC thing easier was that he didn’t have a no-trade clause and you knew he only had a half-year left on his contract,” Melvin said. “When guys are traded in the middle of long-term deals, they can demand a trade the next year. Those questions all have to be cleared up.”

Braun: 'Doug and I are cool'

Brewers All-Star Ryan Braun addressed his spat with general manager Doug Melvin on Tuesday afternoon after the two met in Melvin’s office at Miller Park. For those who missed it, Braun sparked the “discussion” on Sunday when he questioned the strength of the Brewers’ pitching staff and Melvin responded on Monday by calling Braun’s comments “inappriopriate.”

Braun didn’t take questions from reporters, but here’s what he had to say:

“Doug and I met this afternoon as soon as I got to the ballpark. We had a good discussion. I think both of us now have a clear understanding of where each other is coming from, and it’s derived from being competitive. Everybody wants to win. It’s not going to jeopardize my relationship with him and it’s not going to jeopardize my relationship with the organization. I know they are trying their best to do their jobs. They always have, and always will. This is basically a misunderstanding.

“I feel like my comments were kind of taken out of context a little bit, blown out of proportion. I was a little bit surprised that it became the story that it has. With that being said, I take full responsibility for everything that I say, for all of my actions. At times I’m emotional, I’m passionate, and it’s derived from wanting to win. I definitely take full responsibility for everything.

“That being said, Doug and I are cool. Everything is good. I have no issues with anybody. I apologize if I offended anybody in the organization. That clearly wasn’t my intent. I wasn’t trying to disrespect anybody. I wasn’t trying to call anybody out. It wasn’t a conversation that I initiated; I was basically responding to a question. I try, when I’m dealing with the media, to be honest, and sometimes I’m honest to a fault. It gets me in trouble, and I recognize that. It’s a strength and a weakness that I need to be more aware of at times.

“Moving forward, hopefully this is something I’ll learn from. It’s definitely something I’ll learn from. We’ll move on.”

I’m working on a more complete story, including comments from two of the guys affected by Braun’s comments on Sunday: Pitching coach Bill Castro and right-hander Seth McClung.

Update: Parra likely for Thursday

Updating my post from a few hours ago, it appears that Manny Parra will return to the Brewers’ starting rotation on Thursday against the Cardinals. Manager Ken Macha wouldn’t confirm who will pitch that game, but he did lay out his rotation for the rest of the week:

Tonight vs. STL: RHP Yovani Gallardo
Wednesday vs STL: RHP Jeff Suppan
Thursday vs STL: TBA

Friday vs. LAD: RHP Braden Looper
Saturday vs. LAD: RHP Mike Burns
Sunday vs. LAD: Gallardo

And here’s my original post:

The Triple-A Nashville Sounds have juggled their probable pitchers for the week and left-hander Manny Parra isn’t on the list, a very strong indication that the Brewers will recall him to the big leagues for a start at some point this week.

The Brewers need a pitcher by Saturday at the latest, but also could slate someone in as soon as Wednesday. That just happens to be Parra’s day to pitch, had he remained on schedule in Nashville.

Brewers manager Ken Macha and general manager Doug Melvin were to meet this afternoon to set the rotation for the final homestand before the All-Star break. Macha could announce his plan when he meets with reporters just after 4 p.m. CT.

Parra was 3-7 with a 7.52 ERA in 13 starts before the Brewers demoted him to Nashville after a loss to the White Sox on June 13. In four Triple-A starts, he went 1-2 with a 2.92 ERA, including seven scoreless innings at Round Rock on Wednesday.