March 2010

'Great' bullpen session for Hawkins

Brewers reliever LaTroy Hawkins tested his right shoulder in the bullpen on Saturday and said there’s no reason to fret about his availability for Opening Day.  
Hawkins has not pitched in a Cactus League game since March 11, when he developed what he called “tightness” behind his shoulder. Saturday’s 30-pitch session marked his first mound work since then, and Hawkins needed only one word to describe how it went:  
“Great,” he said. “That’s all you need to write: Great.”  
A few years ago, Hawkins might not have been so chipper. Saturday, after all, was only two weeks and two days shy of the Brewers’ April 5 season opener against the Rockies, and the last place Hawkins would want to begin his tenure with the team is on the disabled list. He signed a two-year, $7.5 million contract with Milwaukee at the Winter Meetings to serve as a setup man to closer Trevor Hoffman. 
Two weeks, Hawkins insisted, is plenty of time to get ready. He learned that last year when he had to prepare quickly to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. 
“That’s the only reason I didn’t panic this time,” he said, “because I had the experience with the WBC and had no problems. I think I threw about seven games and that was it. So if I can do that here, I’ll be fine.”  
Hawkins is aiming to return to game action on Monday, when the Brewers host the Dodgers. But he said he would have to confer with pitching coach Rick Peterson and the team’s athletic training staff before making a decision.
Fellow reliever Davis Riske also threw a bullpen on Saturday as he continues his road back from Tommy John surgery. Left-hander Chris Capuano was originally slated for a bullpen, too, but at Peterson’s suggestion he instead played long toss. Capuano, who has trying to return from a second Tommy John surgery, should return to the mound within a few days.   
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Koshansky gets pleasant surprise

koshansky.jpgJoe Koshansky played his first Triple-A Spring Training game on Friday and then found out it would be his last for a while. 

Koshansky got a surprise call to big league camp, where he arrived Saturday morning to back-up Brewers regular first baseman Prince Fielder. Through Friday that role had belonged to Steffan Wilson, who got a surprise call-up of his own back on Feb. 28. Wilson played A-ball last season, but got the nod over a more experienced player like Koshansky because he had been getting at-bats in the Brewers’ spring minicamp. 
“I was definitely surprised,” to get the promotion, Koshansky said. “Happy. … It’s good to be up here. Any time you get to play in front of the big league staff, you want to do everything you can to show them what you can do. I’ll take this opportunity and hopefully leave a good impression.”
Koshansky was in big league camp with the Rockies last year before bouncing around on waivers, first to the Rangers and then to the Brewers. He spent 2009 at Triple-A Nashville and batted .218 with 24 homers and 80 RBIs. 
He’s been on the cusp of the Major Leagues for several years now. Koshansky played 17 games for the Rockies in 2007 and 18 games in 2008. Someday soon, he’d like to stick.
“I’m hoping, one day,” Koshansky said. “I love playing, so it will work out.”
Wilson, meanwhile, will prepare for his season in the Minors. He played in 14 Cactus League games and batted .207 (6-for-29) with four RBIs, but three of those hits came in his first start on March 5 against the A’s. After that, he was 3-for-25.  
“The exposure for Wilson was good but he needs to go down with his team to start playing,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “You don’t want a guy to get discouraged, either. I thought he handled it very well.”
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Gamel on injury: 'It stinks'

Before last February, Brewers prospect Mat Gamel never had an injury more serious than a sprained ankle. He picked a bad time to catch the bug.  
The Brewers announced Thursday that Gamel would be shut down for about six weeks with a torn muscle behind his right shoulder, and it could be eight or nine weeks before he’s back to 100 percent. On Friday, Gamel’s last morning in the big league clubhouse at Maryvale Baseball Park, he spoke about his latest setback. 
“It stinks,” he said. “But it could be worse. I just have to deal with it and get better. It’s real disappointing, but people have setbacks in this game.”  
Gamel has had setbacks in each of his two big league Spring Training camps. Last year, he also missed time with a sore right shoulder, though this injury is different.  
The official word is that Gamel was hurt taking swings in early batting practice just before the start of Cactus League play. But he wondered aloud Friday whether he might have suffered the injury earlier on a throw and simply aggravated it on a swing.  
“I never felt anything pop or tear, I just felt a lot of tightness in that part of my arm,” Gamel said.  
Gamel tried to rehabilitate the injury but was sent for an MRI scan on Wednesday that revealed the tear. He said he wished he had been sent for testing earlier. “But it’s done, so all you can do is rehab it,” Gamel said.  
Gamel will do so at the team’s Minor League complex. He is to report there beginning Saturday morning. 

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Hawkins has stiff shoulder

Brewers manager Ken Macha revealed on Friday that reliever LaTroy Hawkins has been sidelined with right shoulder stiffness. The morning report from the medical staff was very positive, Macha said, and Hawkins should return to the mound for a bullpen session, “shortly.” 

The Brewers are not expecting Hawkins to miss the start of the regular season. 
The team made another round of roster cuts in the morning. Outfielder Lorenzo Cain, pitcher Marco Estrada and catcher Angel Salome were optioned to Triple-A Nashville and nonroster pitchers Zach Braddock and Kameron Loe were returned to Minor League camp. Estrada and Loe are ticketed for Nashville’s starting rotation. 
Shortstop Alcides Escobar was also sidelined Friday for yet another trip to the dentist’s office. It appears as if he will have an entirely new mouthful of teeth before Spring Training is over. 
With Escobar out, the lineup for Friday’s game against the Angels looked like this:
Rickie Weeks  2B
Jim Edmonds  CF
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Corey Hart  RF
George Kottaras  C
Luis Cruz  SS
Jeff Suppan  RHP
The Brewers and Rangers will play another B game on Monday, this time at Maryvale Baseball Park at 12 p.m. CDT/10 a.m. MST. Chris Narveson, who is still in the running for the pitching rotation, will probably start that game on an extra day of rest.  
Doug Davis, who has the No. 3 starter’s spot sewed up, will start the A game against the Dodgers that day. One of Dave Bush or Manny Parra, fellow competitors with Narveson, will start Tuesday against the Indians and then the other will pitch some kind of game on Wednesday, the big-league Brewers’ only off day of the spring. After that, Macha conceded, the team will at least need to make a decision on its No. 4 starter in order to wisely distribute innings over the final week-plus of camp. 
In other words, we should know much more about the Brewers’ starting rotation a week from today. 
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Bush, Parra continue their bids

Dave Bush did his part. Then it was Manny Parra’s turn. 

Bush turned in five solid innings of work on Thursday afternoon in a “B” game against the Rangers on a side field at the Surprise Stadium complex. He allowed three hits and one earned run, walked one batter and hit another, and struck out five. Bush threw 67 pitches. 
He worked the afternoon affair so the  Brewers could see Parra pitch the regularly-scheduled “A” game against the Rangers Thursday night. In five innings, Parra was charged with five earned runs on six hits including a long Josh Hamilton home run. Parra struck out five and didn’t walk a batter. 
“I actually threw the ball really well,” he said. “I threw the ball better today, execution-wise, than I did the last game and the one before that.” 
Of Hamilton, Parra said, “He’s a beast. I rushed a little bit there, left a pitch over the middle and it was crushed. A lot of these [Rangers] guys, it seems like they’re all four hitters.”
The afternoon B game marked pitching coach Rick Peterson’s second opportunity to see Bush pitch. Bush and Parra have been working on the same day all spring and twice have appeared separately in split-squad affairs. 
Both the right-handed Bush and the left-handed Parra have mostly pitched well this spring, and so has left-hander Chris Narveson. Assuming the Brewers keep righty Jeff Suppan as their fourth starter — which is not set in stone, club officials say, despite Suppan’s hefty salary — then the fifth starters’ spot could come down to Bush, Narveson or Parra. 
Suppan is scheduled to pitch Friday against the Angels. Narveson’s next scheduled turn in the rotation is supposed to come Sunday, but the Brewers need to work out plans for another B game with the Rangers first. 
Parra and Narveson are out of options and the Brewers would have to expose either player to waivers in order to assign him to the Minor Leagues. Bush has options, but he also has enough service time to refuse a demotion. 
Somebody is going to be disappointed in the end. 
“It’s a great problem to have,” Peterson said. 
This might have been the last time Bush and Parra pitch on the same day. Peterson said that one could remain on an every-five-day schedule to work Tuesday against the Indians, and the other could take an extra day of rest and work a Minor League game on Wednesday, the big-league Brewers’ only off-day this spring. 
“This can get strung out all the way to the last week of Spring Training,” Peterson said. “We have it set up so that everybody is going to get as much of a chance to pitch as much as they can possibly pitch before [decisions are rendered]. The key is that as long as these guys are doing well, you delay a decision as long as you possibly can.
“What you hope is that it’s a tie,” Peterson joked, “and they have to have a putt-off or shoot baskets.”
Would Parra like a better idea of how the competition will play out?
“It’s always nice to know what’s going to happen, but I didn’t feel any pressure out there,” he said. “I haven’t felt any pressure with any work I’ve done. I’ve worked my butt off and I understand I have something to prove, but at the same time I feel really good.”
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Gamel has 'lat' tear, could miss two months

An MRI scan on Wednesday revealed that Brewers third base prospect Mat Gamel has what the team termed a “slight” tear in his latissimus dorsi, the large muscle behind the right shoulder. Brewers spokesperson Mike Vassallo reported that the team expects Gamel to be restricted for six weeks. 

“Then he has to get ready for games from there, so we could be talking about closer to eight to nine weeks total before he’s 100 percent,” Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said. 
Gamel suffered the injury during batting practice early in camp and missed the first three days of Cactus League play. He started a March 8 game against the Mariners but was forced to exit in the third inning because of the shoulder.
Many Brewers fans know the “lat” muscle well because it’s what sidelined Ben Sheets at the end of the 2005 season and caused him trouble into 2006. Sheets, though, had a much more significant tear and the muscle pulled away from the bone.
In Gamel’s case, according to Ash, the tear is much less severe and is located in the middle of the muscle. 
“This is much less significant than Ben’s was. This is more like Gabe Kapler’s,” said Ash, referring to the then-Brewers outfielder who was injured on a throw in 2008. 
Injured players who logged Major League time in the previous season cannot be optioned to the Minor Leagues, so Gamel will almost certainly begin the season on the Brewers’ 15-day disabled list. With two games on Thursday’s schedule — an afternoon B game against the Rangers and then the regularly-scheduled evening A game — Brewers officials have not yet discussed whether Gamel will do his rehabilitation in the Major League clubhouse or head over to the team’s Minor League complex.
“It will depend on what will help him get better in the most efficient manner,” Ash said.
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Brewers get first look at Reds' Chapman

AP100220162554.jpgThe Brewers got their first look Wednesday at what’s behind the Aroldis Chapman hype. 

Rickie Weeks greeted the Cincinnati Reds’ hard-throwing Cuban import with a leadoff home run but Chapman was otherwise tough on Milwaukee’s hitters, allowing no more runs or hits and notching five strikeouts in three innings of work in his first Spring Training start. 
“It’s very funky,” said Brewers outfielder Corey Hart, who struck out swinging at a 97 mph fastball to end the first inning. “Everything he threw was moving. Nothing was the same.”
Said Brewers starter Doug Davis, who proudly made contact on a second-inning groundout: “It was fast. It got on you quick. There were a lot of arms and legs coming at you, and the ball was pretty much halfway there before he let it go. It wasn’t really heavy though, like I thought it was going to be.”

And according to Weeks, who followed his first-inning homer with a third-inning walk, Chapman was clearly having trouble locating his off-speed pitches. 
“Of course he has life on his fastball, and I saw a slider and change-up from him and I don’t think he was able to get the off-speed over for strikes a lot,” Weeks said. “You know me, I don’t really pay attention [to the hype]. He’s a pitcher. He’s going out and doing his job. The hype about him? The guy throws 100 mph, so what do you expect?”
“How old is he?” asked Davis, who was informed that Chapman is listed as 22. “Oh, jeez. He’s going to be one of the greats if he stays healthy.”
Davis bested the Cuban on Wednesday, holding the Reds scoreless on three hits in four innings. He walked one and struck out three.
His work on a two-seam fastball, a sinking pitch designed to be tough on left-handed hitters, has not progressed as well as Davis has liked so he’s focusing instead on refining his usual repertoire of four-seam fastballs and cut fastballs. 
“I threw one [sinker] today and I threw it in the ground, almost hit the umpire,” Davis said. “I’m just not comfortable with it yet.”
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Injury hampers Gamel's big-league bid

The Brewers’ medical staff has been discouraged by third baseman Mat Gamel’s slow progress back from a sore right shoulder, and it is increasingly likely that the injury will cost Gamel a shot at the Opening Day roster, manager Ken Macha said Wednesday. 

“It’s getting to the point where it’s going to be hard to get him enough at-bats to feel like he’s ready,” Macha said. 
Gamel also missed time last spring with a sore throwing shoulder. During the season, he bounced between everyday duty at Triple-A Nashville and the Brewers’ big league bench. He batted .278 with 11 homers and 48 RBIs in 75 games at Nashville and .242 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 61 games with Milwaukee. 
“I would have liked to have him have a very positive spring and come into the [season] with a positive attitude,” Macha said. “Last year, it was a little bit of a struggle for him at the end of the year.”
Speaking of injury-plagued prospects, catcher Angel Salome suffered a minor ankle injury during batting practice on Tuesday and will be sidelined a few days. He was supposed to catch Dave Bush in a “B” game against the Rangers on Thursday, but Matt Treanor will handle that assignment instead. 
Last spring, Salome missed time because of a bad back. 
UPDATE from assistant general manager Gord Ash, who says that Salome’s left ankle is the one in question. He saw Dr. Evan Lederman on Wednesday morning, and Lederman suggested that the injury is not a major issue. 
Either Salome or fellow catching prospect Jonathan Lucroy might end up very disappointed at the end of camp. Both probably belong in Triple-A this season, Salome because he was there last year and held his own, and Lucroy because he was very good at Double-A Huntsville last season and then participated in the Arizona Fall League. 
Macha said that club officials had discussed the conundrum this week. He hinted that if Salome and Lucroy are both healthy and in the organization at the start of the season, he would prefer to see one sent o Nashville and the other to Double-A Huntsville. 
“I don’t think it helps you in your development if you’re not catching five days out of the week,” Macha said. “That’s just my opinion. Your job as a catcher is to learn the pitchers and learn what pitches work and sequences and things like that. When you’re catching three days a week, that’s tough.”
But Macha stressed that it’s not his call. 
“That will be something for somebody else to figure out,” he said. 
David Riske, recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, was scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Wednesday morning and said he could progress to a live batting practice session next week. But it is clear now that he will have to stay in extended Spring Training while the Brewers head north. 
“I’m positive about the way things are going,” Riske said. “It will be nice to get a hitter up there.”
The Brewers’ lineup against Aroldis Chapman and the Reds looks like this:
Rickie Weeks  2B
Carlos Gomez  CF
Ryan Braun  LF
Corey Hart  RF
Steffan Wilson  1B
Craig Counsell  3B
Alcides Escobar  SS
George Kottaras  C
Doug Davis  LHP
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Crew taking its time on rotation decisions

The Brewers are making arrangements to give themselves as much time as possible to render decisions about the back end of their starting rotation. 
They scheduled a “B” game against the Rangers for Thursday that will allow Dave Bush and Manny Parra to continue working on the same day, and are trying to schedule another for Sunday against the White Sox to allow Chris Narveson to continue pitching on the same day as Randy Wolf. On Tuesday, Wolf pitched a Minor League intrasquad game so Brewers officials could evaluate Narveson in the afternoon’s Cactus League game against the Royals. 
Bush, Narveson and Parra and competing along with Jeff Suppan for two openings in the rotation. 
“We’ve still got a lot of time to figure that out,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. “We talk about it every day.”
Narveson delivered four more scoreless innings against the Royals on Tuesday and has yet to allow a run in three Spring Training starts. He’s building off a strong finish to last season, when Narveson went 1-0 with a 2.73 ERA in five relief appearances and four starts to win the team’s pitcher of the month honor for September/October. 
The Brewers announced before the game that Bush would start an afternoon “B” game against the Rangers before Parra takes the mound for the regularly-scheduled nighttime affair. 
“I talked to Doug about it and I think we’d like to see Parra pitch in the ‘A’ game,” manager Ken Macha said. “We want to see the progress that he’s making. Bush has background and track record. If he’s healthy, he’s going to be able to pitch, and he appears to be healthy. We’re looking for improvement from Parra, and he’s shown that so far.”
Suppan’s next turn in the spring rotation should come Friday against the Angels.
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St. Patty's Day ticket deal


Here’s a message from the Brewers about a great ticket special:
St. Patrick’s Day is your lucky day! 
Starting Wednesday at 7 a.m. CT, you can purchase Field, Loge and Club Outfield tickets to the April 6 and 7 games vs. the Colorado Rockies for just $3.17, courtesy of Associated Bank.
If you were already planning to wear your green for St. Patrick’s Day, now you can save some green, too! Click here and enter the code “CHARMS” in the password box to get yours because deals like this are as rare as a four-leaf clover and quantities are limited.
We also have good news for Brewers fans going to Spring Training! As part of our St. Patrick’s Day promotion, on Wednesday you can also purchase $3.17  Infield and Outfield Reserve or Lawn tickets for the Spring Training games at Maryvale Baseball Park on Monday, March 22 (Brewers vs. Dodgers) and Wednesday, March 31 (Brewers vs. Cubs). To take advantage of this offer, click here on St. Patrick’s Day (no password required).
Limit of 4 tickets per purchase. 
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