September 2009

Hart hurt in Tuesday's game; status uncertain

Brewers right fielder Corey Hart was out of the lineup on Wednesday, and the team revealed why about 40 minutes before Game 2 of a series against the Rockies.

Hart had x-rays earlier in the day that revealed, “possible compression fractures to the fourth and fifth fingers of the right hand,” according to a club spokesperson. The Brewers expected further clarification after Hart’s x-rays were sent via e-mail to head team physician William Raasch back in Milwaukee.

The Brewers only have four games left after Wednesday, and Hart may be sidelined for all of them.

“Probably, but we don’t know that yet,” assistant GM Gord Ash said. Hart’s particular injury could require further tests.

Hart played all 11 innings of Tuesday’s series opener at Coors Field, going 1-for-4 with his 500th career hit. He was hurt sliding back to first base in the 10th inning when he jammed his fingers against Todd Helton’s foot. Hart was safe on the play, but instant replays showed he was clearly out.

Change of plans: Bush likely done

Dave Bush has probably thrown his final 2009 pitch for the Brewers, who are suddenly scrambling to fill the final innings of the season.

Bush and the team changed course on Wednesday and decided it was best for the right-hander to skip his scheduled start on Saturday in St. Louis and call it a season. Bush spent about two months on the disabled list earlier this season with a right triceps injury and has struggled with fatigue since his return.

“It’s been a challenge,” Bush said. “What you don’t want to do is go out and do something stupid on Saturday and get myself in a position where it could affect me beyond that.”

If Bush cannot start for the Brewers on Saturday, who will? Manager Ken Macha found himself asking that question on Wednesday, and called general manager Doug Melvin to see if there were any reinforcements available.

The Brewers are short, even with expanded September rosters, because Yovani Gallardo has been shut down for the year as a precaution (he is not an option to come back, Macha said firmly) and Mike Burns has been shut down with a shoulder injury. Rookie Josh Butler might have been an option, but the Brewers sent him home after Sunday’s home finale and he’s driving cross-country this week from Huntsville to San Diego before reporting for the Arizona Fall League.

Carlos Villanueva could be called upon to make an emergency start. Other healthy pitchers on the 40-man roster but not currently in the big leagues include Omar Aguilar, Tim Dillard, Mark Rogers and Cody Scarpetta. Aguilar and Rogers are both slated for the AFL.

For now, the Brewers are not listing a starter for Saturday or Sunday, leaving open the possibility that scheduled Sunday starter Chris Narveson could bump up to pitch a day early. Macha could also cobble together a “bullpen day,” using Villanueva for a few innings at the start and then filling-in relievers behind him, but even that could be difficult, Macha said, because a number of relievers were, “dragging.” He wouldn’t identify any of those pitchers.

“We’ve got a couple of things we’re thinking about,” Macha said. “What we need to do is get through these next few days, and then we’ll let you know.”

Melvin was in Arizona with the Brewers’ instructional leaguers and did not immediately return a phone call. He is to re-join the big league team in St. Louis on Friday.

Escobar back at shortstop

The Rockies’ magic number to clinch the National League Wild Card is down to three, meaning any combination of three Colorado wins and Braves losses with seal a return trip to the postseason. The Brewers will try to delay the celebration tonight with this lineup against Jason Hammel:

Felipe Lopez  2B
Jody Gerut  RF
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Mike Cameron  CF
Alcides Escobar  SS
Jason Kendall  C
Jeff Suppan  RHP

Catanalotto out for Rox series

Outfielder Frank Catalanotto will be away from the Brewers for at least this three-game series in Colorado because of a death in the family, but the Brewers are still well-covered in the outfield with Jason Bourgeois, Jody Gerut and Corey Patterson available off the bench. Corey Hart would have started in right field tonight, anyway, because he’s 6-for-14 (.429) against Rockies starter Jason Marquis.

The Rockies are 1-5 in Marquis’ last six starts. The lineup for Tuesday’s series opener:

Felipe Lopez  2B
Corey Hart  RF
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Mike Cameron  CF
J.J. Hardy  SS
Jason Kendall  C
Chris Narveson  LHP

Brewers push McGehee for rookie honor

The Brewers’ PR department is making a case for Casey McGehee as the National League Rookie of the Year, touting him today in a press release that was sent to local and national media. The award is settled by a a vote of members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

McGehee leads all Major League rookies with 64 RBIs but he’s not the only good candidate. Pitchers J.A. Happ of the Phillies, Tommy Hanson of the Braves and Randy Wells of the Cubs have been solid, and among hitters McGehee’s competition includes Chris Coghlan of the Marlins, Garrett Jones and Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, Gerardo Parra of the D-backs and Colby Rasmus of the Cardinals.

Who gets your vote? I’ll include PDFs with the various rookie leaders, plus the case for McGehee set forth by the Brewers.

NL rookie hitters.pdf
NL rookie pitchers.pdf

Brewers press release:
CASEY McGEHEE A CANDIDATE FOR NATIONAL LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Looks to Join Pat Listach and Ryan Braun as the Only Brewers to Win the Award

As the 2009 season comes to a conclusion this week, Brewers infielder Casey McGehee (pronounced McGee) continues to be one of the leading candidates for National League Rookie of the Year.  He is attempting to join shortstop Pat Listach (1992) and third baseman Ryan Braun (2007) as the only Brewers to win the award.

Entering Tuesday’s contest, McGehee was batting .304 with 15 HR and 64 RBI in 111 games.  He has made 80 starts, including 57 starts at third base, 20 at second base and three as the designated hitter.  He made just one start through the Brewers’ first 38 games of the season but was thrust into action after an injury to second baseman Rickie Weeks.

McGehee ranks among the National League rookie leaders in nearly every offensive category this season, including slugging percentage (2nd, .503), batting average (3rd, .304) and home runs (3rd, 15).  He leads all Major League rookies with 64 RBI, including 25 over his last 26 games.  One of the top clutch players on the team, McGehee is batting .393 (33-for-84) with runners in scoring position this season.

McGehee has saved his best for the final month of the season as he is batting .337 (28-for-83) with 4 HR and 24 RBI in the month of September.  His RBI total this month trails only All-Star and MVP candidate Ryan Howard (26 RBI). 

McGehee, 26, batted .339 (21-for-62) with 6 HR and 16 RBI in 27 games in spring training to make his first career Opening Day roster.  He was claimed off waivers by the Brewers from the Cubs on October 29, 2008.  He made his Major League debut with Chicago last season, appearing in nine games.

McGehee, DiFelice, Burns updates

Milwaukee_Brewers_at_0deb.JPGBrewers this baseman Casey McGehee will undergo arthroscopic surgery after the season to remove bone fragments from a right knee that has bothered him all season.

The surgical option has been on the table for months, but McGehee traveled on Monday’s off-day to Vail, Colo. for a visit with Dr. Richard Steadman to finalize a plan. Steadman is a knee expert who specializes in skiers but also has also consulted with a number of baseball players, including then-Brewers infielder Tony Graffanino in 2007.

Dr. William Raasch, the Brewers’ head physician, will perform McGehee’s surgery, presumably soon after Sunday’s season finale.

McGehee has been one of the Brewers’ best stories this season, an October 2007 waiver claim from the Cubs who has emerged as the offensive frontrunner for the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Despite the bum knee, he leads all Major League rookies with 64 RBIs while batting .304 with 15 home runs. He’ll have to contend with pitchers like the Phillies’ J.A. Happ and the Braves’ Tommy Hanson for the league’s rookie honor. 

Two Brewers relievers also spent Monday in the doctor’s office:

- Reliever Mark DiFelice was in Los Angeles for a visit with Dr. Lewis Yocum, who confirmed Raasch’s recommendation to conservatively rehabilitate DiFelice’s strained right shoulder. Progress has been somewhat slow since DiFelice went on the disabled list earlier this month, and he was seeking assurances that nothing more serious was wrong with the shoulder.

- Fellow reliever Mike Burns might not prove so lucky. He underwent an MRI scan in Milwaukee on Monday that revealed damage to the labrum in his right shoulder. Burns was to meet again Wednesday with Raasch to discuss the options.

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Report: Brewers mulling Peterson as pitching coach

200px-Rick_Peterson.jpgThe Brewers could hire Rick Peterson to be their pitching coach for 2010, according to a report from FOXSports.com on Sunday.

Citing Major League sources, the report said Brewers officials have held internal discussions about Peterson but haven’t reached out to him. Brewers manager Ken Macha worked alongside Peterson in Oakland, and bench coach Willie Randolph managed the Mets for three seasons with Peterson as his pitching coach.

When Macha took over as Brewers manager last fall, he was encouraged to keep as many coaches as possible from the previous season and promoted longtime Brewers bullpen coach Bill Castro to the pitching coach post to replace Mike Maddux, who departed for Texas. Castro was dismissed on Aug. 12 and replaced on an interim basis by Triple-A pitching coach and former Brewer Chris Bosio.

Bosio is presumably a candidate for the full-time job next season but Macha may want to being in his own man, assuming he’s back as manager.

Including Dave Bush’s loss to the Phillies on Sunday, Brewers pitchers have a 4.75 ERA this season, next to last in the National League.

McGehee to see specialist; DiFelice, Burns too

118486.jpgBreak-out Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee should get a better idea
Monday whether he’ll need offseason knee surgery, and he’s not the only
banged-up Brewer set to spend the team’s final off-day at the doctor’s
office.  

McGehee was to travel Sunday night to Denver ahead
of the rest of the team to see a specialist for answers about his
aching right knee. Reliever Mark DiFelice, meanwhile, departed separately for Los Angeles, where he has a Monday morning appointment
with noted orthopedist Lewis Yocum for another opinion on his injured
right shoulder. Fellow reliever Mike Burns remained in Milwaukee for an MRI of his sore right shoulder. 

McGehee, who is in the middle of a torrid
September and is being pushed by the Brewers as a National League
Rookie of the Year candidate, has been playing on a sore right knee for
at least three months. He has been extremely hesitant to discuss it,
but broke his silence on Sunday morning. 

“We’ve been able to
manage it pretty well,” said McGehee, crediting head athletic trainer
Roger Caplinger and assistant trainer Dan Wright. “We’ve done
everything it takes to make sure I’m available every day. But we’re
getting down to the end and we have to get it re-evaluated to see where
we’re at and know exactly what we need to do going into the
offseason.” 

No surgery is scheduled yet, McGehee said. His
ailment has been described as tendonitis, but McGehee was not sure that
was an accurate label.

“I don’t know what the terminology of
it is,” McGehee said, “But I do know that we’re not talking about ACL,
MCL or meniscus tears. There’s no torn tendons or anything like that.
In my mind, it’s just sore. I’m just waiting to see what these guys
say, and we’ll go from there.” 

Entering the Brewers-Phillies
series finale on Sunday, McGehee ranked third in the Majors with 24
RBIs in September, and he was batting .306 with 15 home runs and 64
RBIs. McGehee led all NL rookies in RBIs, ranked second in batting
average, third in home runs, fourth with a .367 on-base percentage and
fifth with 20 doubles. His .508 slugging percentage ranked second among
NL rookies to Pittsburgh’s Garrett Jones.

McGehee, a waiver
claim from the Cubs last October, played his way onto the Brewers’
Opening Day roster by hitting .339 in Spring Training and then saw
increased playing time after second baseman Rickie Weeks was lost to a
wrist injury and third  baseman Bill Hall slumped. At the moment, he’s
the leading candidate to be Milwaukee’s regular third baseman in 2010. 

“I want to make sure that I’m ready to go for Spring Training,” McGehee said.

DiFelice
has been on the DL since Sept. 15 with what he called “wear and tear”
in his right shoulder. He had major shoulder surgery
following the 2001 season and needed 2 1/2 years to feel well again, and is
seeking assurances from Yocum that nothing more serious is wrong this
time. 

“You owe it to yourself to get a second opinion, just
to explore every avenue,” said DiFelice, who posted a 3.66 ERA in 59
games before he was hurt. “The rehab is actually going well, but
[Yocum] might see something that we haven’t seen. You never know. He’s
one of the best in the country, so let’s be smart. 

“Right now, the plan is just to rehab. If he feels differently, then we’ll have to think about that.”

Burns’ injury was not known until Sunday, when he told a reporter that he had been feeling sore over the past week. The results of Monday’s MRI scan would determine whether he will join the Brewers on their season-ending road trip.
 

Brewers keep celebration simple this time

Ryan Braun rounded the bases, stepped on the plate and high-fived his teammates. This time, there was nothing to upset the opponent other than a stinging loss.

prince-fielder-2009-9-6-18-40-29.jpgBraun’s ninth-inning home run beat the Phillies on Saturday night and the Brewers opted against a choreographed celebration like the one that incensed some San Francisco Giants — and television talking heads — back on Sept. 6, when the Brewers did a “boom goes the dynamite act” after Prince Fielder’s game-winning shot.

“I think everybody was probably interested to see what we would do,” Braun said Saturday, with Fielder smiling a few lockers over. “We had some ideas, but we’ll put everything on the back burner for now.”

That probably had something to do with the angry reaction from some in the San Francisco clubhouse after Fielder’s stunt. The Phillies, like the Giants, are contending for the playoffs, and Braun figured it was better to play it straight.

“I think people take things the wrong way,” Braun said. “Our intent is not to disrespect anybody or [tick] anybody off. When it gets to that point, it’s not worth it to us. We’ll put that on hold for now.”

Said Fielder: “No fun allowed.”

Emptying the notebook: Butler, Parra, Gerut, instrux

Besides Ken Macha’s comments about his future, here’s what they were talking about at Miller Park today:

- The Brewers are convinced enough of Manny Parra’s health that they are sending rookie righty Josh Butler home on Sunday evening. Butler will fly to Huntsville to pick up his car for the long drive home to San Diego. He’ll despite his belongs there before hitting the road again to Phoenix. He’ll report for the Arizona Fall League by Oct. 5.

- Speaking of Parra, the manager had a homework assignment for reporters on Saturday afternoon. I’ll fudge it by simply repeating his words:

“I think you ought to write something about Manny Parra, that’s what I think. Where he was, and what he’s done,” Macha said, referring to the left-hander who won his 11th game of the season on Friday. “I think he’s done tremendous work on his delivery, his ability to command the ball now has been greatly improved from Day 1 to where he is now.

“It’s important for him to finish strong. I feel like he’s going to be a big part of the [2010] rotation. … Regardless of what his numbers are, and he’s got the highest ERA in the [National] League of any starter, he’s headed in the right direction.”

- Arbitration-eligible outfielder Jody Gerut is a possible nontender candidate for the Brewers, but Gerut’s strong showing in recent weeks makes it increasingly likely that he will be back in 2010.

“I can’t see where you wouldn’t think that he would be part of it,” Macha said. “He’s done a nice job in the field and can play all three outfield positions. He’s shown some power. There’s a whole lot of things he can do. Take a look at his history, too.”

During Macha’s year-end evaluation with GM Doug Melvin, Gerut was discussed as a potential starter in center field if the Brewers fail to, or chose not to, re-sign free agent Mike Cameron.

- Melvin and assistant GM Gord Ash will travel to Phoenix on Monday to see the Brewers’ instructional league squad. It will be their first look at many of the team’s 2009 Draft picks including three players — Kentrail Davis, Scooter Gennett and D’Vontrey Richardson — who did not sign in time to play for a regular-season affiliate.

The reports say that Richardson, the former Florida State University quarterback, has been putting on a show in batting practice.

“And he looks quite good in a uniform,” said Brewers special assistant Dan O’Brien.

- One high-profile ’09 Draft pick, right-hander Brooks Hall, is not participating in the fall instructional league because of a non-baseball-related medical issue, Ash said. He couldn’t expound on that because of privacy laws.

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