Third baseman Mat Gamel conceded this morning that he tried to come back too early from a sore right shoulder. Now it appears he will be sidelined a few more days.
Gamel first complained of some soreness last week and was held out of Cactus League games for the first three days of the schedule. He said he was ready to play by Saturday but was asked to wait, then got an extra day of rest Sunday. when the Brewers-Reds game was rained out. So it came as some surprise to manager Ken Macha that Gamel was forced to exit Monday’s game against the Mariners in the third inning with a sore shoulder.
“I guess it’s not ready yet,” Gamel said. “It was feeling better. I guess I just rushed it. … But it’s better to miss a couple now than a couple later.”
He would have preferred to not miss any at all. Gamel also missed time last spring with a sore throwing shoulder — he says this injury is different — and then saw his numbers slip after the Brewers began bouncing him between Triple-A and the big league bench beginning in May.
Officially, Gamel is competing for a spot on the big league roster this spring and he remains the team’s top option behind incumbent starter Casey McGehee. There is some pressure, then, to be out on the field.
“You can’t make a team in the training room,” he lamented. “They need you healthy.”
“Let’s make sure we nip this in the bud so he can give himself a chance,” Macha said. “If it happens again and he’s going to be out two weeks, we’ve got coverage. We’ve got other guys we can put on the team.”
Assuming we stay dry, here is the lineup for today’s game against the Cubs:
Rickie Weeks 2B
Craig Counsell SS
Carlos Gomez CF
Prince Fielder 1B
Jim Edmonds LF
Jody Gerut RF
Adam Heether 3B
Jonathan Lucroy C
Jeff Suppan RHP
The pitchers scheduled to follow Suppan include Marco Estrada, Chuck Lofgren, John Halama, Claudio Vargas and A.J. Murray.
Lucroy is starting today but Macha has been focusing lately on evaluating George Kottaras and Matt Treanor, who may have a leg up on the backup catcher battle.
“They each give you a little bit different look,” Macha said. “Kottaras, watching him take [batting practice], he’s got pretty sizeable power when he gets hold of one and he’s a left-handed hitter, which is nice to have. … Treanor, I really like the way he throws the ball and blocks the ball in the dirt. So you’ve got two kind of different styles, or what they bring to the table is a little different.”
What will influence Macha’s decision?
“I want to take a look and see what Zaun does as the spring goes on,” he said. “That may be a determining factor. I’m open if a guy goes out there and is head and shoulders above everybody.”
Macha offered praise for Minor League first baseman Steffan Wilson, who garnered a last-minute invitation to big league camp to help back up Fielder at first base.
“He’s been impressive,” Macha said. “Intense guy. He was taking his warm-up swings and he’s looking like Mike Sweeney more every day. Big, strong first baseman. Hits the ball all over the ballpark.”
Lockers stood empty Tuesday morning where pitching prospects Eric Arnett, Kyle Heckathorn and Alex Periard had dressed. All three pitchers were cut from big league camp on Monday to continue their preparation on the Minor League side. Macha said that Monday morning’s B game prevented pitching coach Rick Peterson from giving the young men a proper send-off, but Peterson planned to stop by the Minor League complex for a chat.