Infielder Hernan Iribarren’s long Brewers tenure came to an end on Saturday when the Texas Rangers claimed him off waivers.
Iribarren, 25, a left-handed hitting second baseman, was out of options and the Brewers obviously did not see a spot for him on the Opening Day roster. Texas had a need for infielders since free agent pick-up Khalil Greene opted not to report to Spring Training.
The Brewers signed Iribarren out of Venezuela in March 2002, making him the second- or third-longest tenured player on the team’s current 40-man roster, depending how you count. Outfielder Corey Hart was drafted and signed in 2000, and pitcher Manny Parra was drafted in 2001 but he was a “draft and follow” player who didn’t sign until summer 2002, when Iribarren was already working at the Brewers’ complex in the Dominican Republic.
In his eight professional seasons, Iribarren is a .316 hitter in the Minor Leagues and a .185 hitter (5-for-27) in two brief stints in the Major Leagues. He has some speed (147 career stolen bases in the Minors) and has tried to develop defensive versatility by trying center field, third base and shortstop, but his true position is second base.
The Brewers feel they have better options for the final bench spot. Joe Inglett, claimed off waivers <i>from</i> the Rangers in January, is also a left-handed hitting second baseman but Inglett has much more Major League experience. Third base prospect Mat Gamel also still has a chance to make the team, manager Ken Macha said Saturday morning.
Iribarren was supposed to play all nine innings of Saturday’s split-squad game against the White Sox at shortstop, but he was scratched about two hours before the first pitch when the roster move was made official. Luis Cruz started instead.
The Brewers’ 40-man roster is down to 39 players, and 52 players remain in Major League camp.