May 2010

Loe on his way up

The Brewers are poised to make another move to bolster their pitching staff. Triple-A Nashville right-hander Kameron Loe will make his way to Miami on Tuesday to join a club in the middle of a pitching makeover. 
Loe was to supposed to start for Nashville on Tuesday night but he is expected instead to be in a Brewers uniform at Sun Life Stadium, where Milwaukee began a four-game series against the Marlins on Monday with a 13-5 loss. The Brewers will have to make a corresponding move or moves to clear space on both the 40-man and 25-man rosters, and could wait until Loe is on-site to do so. 
The Brewers were facing a deadline of sorts this week with Loe, 28, whose Minor League contract included an “out” clause that would have allowed the player to elect free agency if not on the big league roster by June 5. 
“I’m excited to be back in the big leagues,” said Loe, who last pitched in the Majors with Texas in 2008. “I was really focused on my next start so I had not been giving much thought to what might happen. But I’m ready for it.” 
Loe made 107 appearances including 47 starts for the Rangers from 2004-2008 and was 19-23 with a 4.77 ERA. He was 4-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 10 starts for Nashville. 
He was not told whether he would be used as a starter or a reliever by the Brewers, who have had trouble in both areas. 
“They just told me I’m coming up and I said, ‘Thank you,'” Loe said. “That was about it.” 
Loe would be the latest of a series of roster moves this month to remake a slumping staff. Pitchers John Axford, Marco Estrada, Zach Braddock and Chris Capuano have all been promoted since May 15, and the club announced Monday that Capuano would start Thursday’s series finale against the Marlins. 
The Brewers already have 13 pitchers on the active roster so a pitcher will almost certainly be sent out to make room for Loe. One option is veteran right-hander Jeff Suppan, who is earning $12.5 million in the final year of his contract but has been working lone relief. Suppan surrendered three hits and two runs, only one of which was earned, in Monday’s loss and both general manager Doug Melvin and manager Ken Macha declined to answer questions during the day about his status on the team. 
Suppan’s ERA this season is 7.28.  
“He’s given us what he’s got,” Macha said after the game. “Sometimes it’s been OK and sometimes it hasn’t.” 
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Capuano to start Thursday

Left-hander Chris Capuano will officially reach the end of his long road back to the Brewers on Thursday, when he’s scheduled to start the finale of a four-game series against the Marlins. 
Brewers manager Ken Macha made that announcement on Monday and said fellow left-hander Manny Parra would shift back to a bullpen role. It will be Capuano’s first Major League appearance since Sept. 28, 2007. He missed the following season and most of 2009 after undergoing his second Tommy John elbow surgery. 
“The opinion of our people that have worked with him, they feel like you’re going to get the most out of him by putting him in the rotation,” Macha said. “They were extremely complimentary of his preparation, of the routine he went through to get ready for every start.
“As an organization, we have put a lot of energy into getting him back. He’s done the same thing on his side, probably more so from his side. I think it’s worth everybody’s while to go out and see how he does.”
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Braun hitting cleanup for Marlins opener

The name of this stadium keeps changing and so does the Brewers’ lineup. A day after a very interesting permutation had Ryan Braun hitting second, Braun is in the cleanup spot for the opener of a four-game series at Sun Life Stadium. This Prince Fielder-Braun flip is becoming pretty standard when the Brewers face a left-handed pitcher, and today it’s Florida’s Nate Robertson. 
Rickie Weeks  2B
Carlos Gomez  CF
Prince Fielder  1B
Ryan Braun  LF
Casey McGehee  3B
Corey Hart  RF
Alcides Escobar  SS
George Kottaras  C
Chris Narveson  LHP
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Macha shakes up lineup for series finale

MILWAUKEE — As the Brewers continued to excel on the field, manager Ken Macha continued to tweak the club’s lineup on Sunday.

 

After batting catcher George Kottaras second on Saturday because of Kottaras’ high on-base percentage, Macha made another move Sunday to get more guys on base. Macha moved his entire batting order up one spot after Rickie Weeks with the exception of shortstop Alcides Escobar, who was in the ninth spot, behind pitcher Randy Wolf.

“We’ll try this out,” Macha said. “We tried something out yesterday and I think that had some fruits to it. I think it’s just an interesting look. I thought about putting Kottaras there and I thought about this a little bit too.”

As a result, left fielder Ryan Braun became the ninth Brewers hitter to bat second on the season. It’s just the third time Braun has batted second and the first time since he was a rookie.

Behind him, Prince Fielder batted third for the third time this season, Casey McGehee became just the third cleanup hitter this season and Hart batted fifth for the second time on the year.

McGehee was the first Brewers hitter other than Braun or Fielder to bat cleanup since Hart did so on July 1, 2008. The Brewers won that game, 8-6, in Arizona.

Wolf is the first pitcher this season to be in the lineup anywhere other than the No. 9 spot. The only time any other hitter has batted ninth was during the three-game Interleague set with the Twins at Target Field.

With Escobar batting ninth, Macha and McGehee were quick to point out the lineup looks a bit different after the first time through. In fact, it looks a lot more like the team’s usual lineup.

“Looking at the lineup, at the beginning of the game it’s like, ‘Oh, you’re batting cleanup,'” McGehee said. “But it’s really the same. I’m still hitting in front of and behind the same guy. Then hopefully you get Escobar on base and all of a sudden Rickie’s basically hitting second after the first go round. So I think it’s going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out.”

As with the Kottaras move on Saturday, the thought process behind Macha’s decision came down to on-base percentage.

At .402 and .393, Fielder and Braun rank fifth and ninth in the National League in on-base percentage.

“If we score first, we’ve got a high percentage of wins. In the first inning, they’re going to have to face Prince and Brauny. That gives us a chance to score early,” Macha said. “I just want those guys to get on base. Corey’s hot right now, McGehee’s up in the league leaders in driving in runs — I just want the guys to get on base.”

– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter

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Macha not naming Axford as closer, yet

MILWAUKEE — With John Axford getting the call in the ninth inning of the Brewers’ 8-6 victory on Saturday, many began to assume it meant he was the team’s closer.

 

Not so fast, manager Ken Macha said in his postgame press conference.

“I’m not eliminating Trevor,” said Macha, referring to all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman. “I want to give [Hoffman] a few more innings. But it’s going to be nice if we have coverage like that.”

Axford, a flame-throwing 27-year-old right-hander, is 2-for-2 in save opportunities on the season. Along with his save at the end of the 2009 season, Axford is a perfect 3-for-3 in his short big league career as a closer.

Though his career total is still 593 less than that of Hoffman, Axford doesn’t let the pressure of the situation get to him.

“It’s a tough situation to be in, I guess,” Axford said. “I don’t hold a flame to Trevor Hoffman. So I’m not thinking about that really. I’m just trying to get my job done.”

While Macha has been impressed by Axford’s recent performance out of the bullpen, he sees greater value in having several pitchers comfortable with pressure situations in the late innings.

“There’s no problem having a couple,” Macha said. “My last year in Oakland, we had six guys with saves. I’d like to get Trevor back. … The more guys you’re can bring in pressure situations and they’re able to get outs, that makes your bullpen that much stronger.

“I’d like to get [LaTroy] Hawkins back too. When all those pieces get back together, it starts to give you a lot of options. … I’m not selling any of those guys short.”

When asked about his bullpen in his morning session with the media, Macha said he hoped to get Hoffman in the game on Sunday. He did not, however, specify an inning in which that might happen.

But with the way Axford has pitched lately, Macha admitted after Saturday’s game that “it’s hard not to bring him in.”

“He has the stuff,” Macha said. “There’s no doubt about that.”

– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter

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Macha shakes up lineup

In an apparent attempt to keep a hitter with a high on-base percentage batting second, Brewers manager Ken Macha threw a few wrinkles in his lineup once again on Sunday.

After batting catcher George Kottaras second on Saturday, another Brewers hitter got the nod in the two hole on Sunday. With Kottaras on the bench as Jonathan Lucroy catches for Randy Wolf, left fielder Ryan Braun was bumped up from batting No. 3 to No. 2
The rest of the lineup remained the same, but with everyone moving up a spot as well, including Wolf. Shortstop Alcides Escobar was ninth, behind the pitcher’s spot.
Here’s the lineup:
Weeks  2B
Braun  LF
Fielder  1B
McGehee  3B
Hart  RF
Gomez  CF
Lucroy  C
Wolf  P
Escobar  SS
– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter

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Kottaras batting 2nd, Gomez 7th

One night removed from their second consecutive walk-off win, the Brewers lineup features just one change, but it is a surprising one. 

Catcher George Kottaras, who has recently taken over as the team’s No. 1 guy behind the plate, is in the No. 2 hole, while center fielder Carlos Gomez is dropped to the No. 7 slot. Last night, Gomez batted second while Kottaras batted seventh.
The only other difference from last night sees Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder back to their usual positions as the Nos. 3 and 4 hitters, respectively. 
Here’s the rest of the lineup:
Weeks  2B
Kottaras  C
Braun  LF
Fielder  1B
McGehee  3B
Hart  RF
Gomez  CF
Escobar  SS
Parra  P
– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter

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Capuano's called up, to join Brewers Saturday

MILWAUKEE — Nearly 30 months since his last Major League appearance, lefty Chris Capuano will rejoin the Brewers on Saturday at Miller Park.

 

Capuano — whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Nashville — hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since his last start of the 2007 season and has been rehabbing the second Tommy John surgery of his career. After seven Minor League starts, Capuano has finally made it back to the Majors.

Brewers officials announced the move after Friday’s 2-0 victory over the Mets. However, a corresponding roster move was not announced at the time.

With Capuano not being on the Brewers’ 40-man roster, the move will mean more than simply sending someone from the 25-man roster down to the Minors.

– Jordan Schelling, MLB.com

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Brewers players, staff S.C.O.R.E. at local schools

MILWAUKEE — Brewers players, coaches and front office staff visited 26 schools in the five-county area on Friday to talk to students about their community outreach program on S.C.O.R.E. for Excellence Day.

 

The S.C.O.R.E. (School, Community, Opportunities, Role Models, and Excellence) program is in its fifth season, and it provides messages about character education through each of the five elements of the initiative.

As part of the program, left fielder Ryan Braun, broadcaster Brian Anderson, former All-Star Larry Hisle and the Brewers racing sausages visited Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts in Milwaukee.

“It’s important to have good life skills,” Anderson told the students. “We want to encourage you to learn that, take it home to your brothers and sisters, your parents, reach out into your community and take this S.C.O.R.E. program and keep it with you. We come out and we want to give you the message, but really the message dies unless you take it out there with you.”

Hisle, who played for the Brewers from 1978-82, talked about how much his community meant to him when growing up.

“I credit that city for as much of my success as I do myself,” Hisle said, referring to his hometown of Portsmouth, Ohio. “It afforded me every opportunity and all the resources necessary for success. The only thing missing was how badly I wanted to play baseball.”

During the presentation, Anderson and Braun presented five baseballs — one with each of the letters of the acronym on it — to five students that participated and talked about why each one of the elements of the program is important.

Braun, who attended the University of Miami on an academic scholarship, told the students that while he always hoped to play baseball professionally, his academics still came first.

The program finished with a question and answer session between the students and Braun, who was noticeably impressed by the students.

“Really impressive,” said Braun of the questions. “I think they really paid attention and they really believe in this program and I think the Brewers do too. So it was a good day all around, I had a good time and I was thoroughly impressed.”

– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter

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Stern recalled for 3rd time in less than 3 weeks

MILWAUKEE — As the Brewers injuries continue to pile up, so too do the frequent flyer miles for outfielder Adam Stern, who was recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Friday.

 

Stern received a phone call from Nashville manager Don Money, who gave him the news Thursday morning. With that, Stern headed to the ballpark to pack up his things and caught a flight from Sacramento to Milwaukee by way of Minneapolis.

It was the third time in less than three weeks that Stern has been called up from the Minors. As a result, he’s only spent two days at home in Nashville this month: May 1-2.

“I haven’t started my car in about three weeks,” Stern said. “So who knows if that’ll start.”

Stern’s journey began with an eight-day Minor League road trip, which included stops in Round Rock and Albuquerque. The series in Albuquerque wrapped up on May 10, and the next day Stern was recalled in place of center fielder Carlos Gomez.

He joined the Brewers in Milwaukee for a few days, but with the bullpen needing another arm, Stern was optioned May 15 in favor of right-handed reliever John Axford. Stern never left, however, and was recalled the next day as lefty Doug Davis went on the disabled list.

Stern made the trip with the club to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Minneapolis, but was optioned before the first game against the Twins.

With that, Stern flew to Sacramento, meeting the Sounds there and playing the team’s first three games against the River Cats. But with outfielder Jody Gerut going on the disabled list on Thursday, Stern was on the move again.

All told, Stern has traveled more than 8,000 miles in the month of May.

“Flying doesn’t bother me,” Stern said. “I’m getting to check out the country I guess. Plus, I’m racking some good frequent flyer miles.”

Stern did admit, though, that some flights are more enjoyable than others.

“The flights are a lot better coming here than they are going away from here,” he said. “It’s a lot better when you’re coming up to the big leagues. On the way out it’s a little bit worse.”

While he’s happy to be back, Stern knows he shouldn’t settle in or get too comfortable in Milwaukee.

With center fielder Jim Edmonds set to return on Monday from the DL, Stern is the most likely candidate to be sent down to the Minors.

“They’ll keep me posted when they need to make another move,” Stern said. “That’s fine. You just do whatever they ask you to do and go with the flow.”

– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter

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