September 2010

Brewers reportedly tracking Loux

For the second time in a week, Arizona Diamondbacks first-round pick Barret Loux, who was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball, threw for a handful of scouts on Thursday afternoon in College Station, Texas.
According to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, the Brewers, Astros, Marlins, Rangers, Cubs, Twins, Giants, Phillies and Mariners were on hand to watch the right-hander throw between 50 and 60 pitches for about 25 minutes. They are among the teams interested in signing Loux, who was drafted by Arizona before reportedly failing a physical.
“Things went about the same, similar velocity on the fastball and breaking pitches,” Loux said in an e-mail to MLB.com. “[I] found myself breaking my hands later than I should so control wasn’t quite as good as normal, but overall a decent bullpen [session].”
That the Brewers are interested in Loux makes perfect sense. They were set to sign prep right-hander Dylan Covey before a physical exam the week before the Aug. 16 signing deadline revealed he had Type 1 diabetes. Covey opted instead to attend the University of San Diego.   
MLB’s slot recommendation for the 14th overall selection — where the Brewers drafted Covey — was about $1.7 million. 
Loux was drafted No. 6 overall and reportedly failed a physical because of arm problems. Major League Baseball declared Loux a free agent and available to sign with any club beginning Sept. 1, awarding Arizona compensatory Draft picks. 
Loux, who went 11-2 with a 2.83 ERA in 16 starts last season as a junior at Texas A&M, last week threw for about 25 minutes at his college, where he’s finishing up his degree.
He’s just the type of player the Brewers are targeting as part of their increased focus on big, power pitchers. Loux stands 6-foot-4, and when healthy he was throwing fastballs in the 91-94 mph range. He reportedly was close to signing a $2 million deal with the D-backs before concerns about his health cooled their interest.
MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart contributed to this report. 
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Braun out of Brewers lineup

Left fielder Ryan Braun is not in the lineup for the opener of a four-game series of the Marlins that will mark the end of Milwaukee’s home season. Braun was struck near the left elbow with a pitch in Wednesday’s rout of the Reds, a plunking that conjured memories of the Tommy Hanson pitch that hit Braun’s elbow in May and sapped the All-Star’s power. 

With Braun out and the Brewers facing the non-contending Marlins, manager Ken Macha got creative with his lineup. Rickie Weeks is making his third start in the three-hole (the Brewers have lost the other two), Lorenzo Cain is making his second start as the leadoff man (0-1) and Mat Gamel will play his first career innings in the outfield. He’s replacing Braun in left field. 
Here’s the full lineup:

Lorenzo Cain  CF

Corey Hart  RF
Rickie Weeks  2B
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Mat Gamel  LF
Jonathan Lucroy  C
Luis Cruz  SS
Yovani Gallardo  RHP
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Wolf impressive again amid offensive outburst

MILWAUKEE — On any other night, Randy Wolf’s performance would have been the story of the game. But with the way the Brewers hitters were swinging the bats, a quality start and a 2-for-4 performance at the plate got lost in the shuffle.

 

Making Wolf’s outing even more impressive was the way he responded after his club put up eight runs in the second and five more in the next three innings. Often with such long innings offensively, a team’s pitcher tends to struggle going back out on the mound.

Wolf just got better as the game went along.

“There were some long breaks, but the main thing is, when it’s that kind of score, you’ve got to go out there and feel like it’s nothing, nothing,” Wolf said. “If you go out there and you see it’s 8-1, 13-1… all of a sudden it’s four runs, five runs and they’re creeping their way back.

“As a pitcher, you’ve got to keep you focus and pitch the right way. You really don’t want to totally change your aggressive or change your whole philosophy just because of the score.”

Not only did Wolf pitch well as his team sent 34 hitters to the plate in the second through fifth innings, he did so after fighting through a rough first inning.

Wolf opened the game giving up three singles and a walk in the top of the first. Fortunately, the veteran lefty managed to hold the NL Central-leading Reds to just one run in the inning.

“Wolfy, another good outing for him,” said Brewers manager Ken Macha. “He got help with some defense in the first inning, a tremendous play by [Ryan] Braun getting the ball off the wall to get their leadoff hitter.”

With a fortunate out on his side, Wolf got the next batter to hit a grounder back to the mound. But with just one out to go in the inning, he walked Jay Bruce and surrendered back-to-back singles before striking out Yonder Alonso to end the inning.

That strikeout was the first of four in a row for Wolf and the beginning of a stretch of 11 consecutive batters retired. Wolf did not allow another hit until the a leadoff double in the sixth off the bat of Paul Janish, who replaced Orlando Cabrera at shortstop.

“I didn’t really have the command I wanted early on,” Wolf said. “Luckily, as the game went on I felt better and better and felt more comfortable out there and I was able to mix my pitches and work my fastball in and out.”

Tossing six strong innings while allowing just one run on four hits with seven strikeouts against two walks, Wolf posted his fourth straight quality start in September. This month, Wolf is 3-1 with a 1.21 ERA, allowing just four runs on 18 hits in 29 2/3 innings pitched.

Since his infamous 12-run outing in Pittsburgh, Wolf has gone 6-2 with a 2.57 ERA in his last 11 starts, giving up 21 earned runs over 73 2/3 innings pitched. In his 31 other starts not including that July 21 loss, Wolf is 13-10 with a 3.81 ERA.

“Randy was great again,” shortstop Craig Counsell said. “He’s been on quite a roll, and he’s put together a good season — a really good season.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

Homegrown Olympians throw out first pitches

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MILWAUKEE — It was a big night Wednesday for Wisconsin athletes at Miller Park, capped by veteran infielder Craig Counsell’s three-run homer in the second inning. Before Counsell’s heroics, though, a pair of homegrown Olympians shared the spotlight.
 

Tossing ceremonial first pitches before the Brewers hosted the Reds were goalie Jessie Vetter and forward Jinelle Zaugg-Siergiej of the United States’ silver-medal winning women’s hockey team.

Since their final game against Canada in February, Vetter and Zaugg-Siergiej have been keeping busy with a number of guest appearances, including one at a Milwaukee Admirals game. So how did throwing a pitch in front of 27,004 fans at Miller Park rank?

“It’s pretty special because Jessie and I are both from Wisconsin,” Zaugg-Siergiej said. “Being able to throw an opening pitch and doing it in your home state, especially now that I’m living in Milwaukee, it means a lot, it’s a lot of fun.

“It’s a great feeling to represent something bigger than yourself and bigger even than Milwaukee with Team USA and the Olympics.”

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Vetter and Zaugg-Siergiej are from Cottage Grove and Eagle River respectively. The two were teammates on the Wisconsin Badgers’ national championship team in 2006. 

Between celebrating their silver medal victory with the rest of the country through various appearances and coaching and playing hockey, the two have remained busy in the offseason. 

In fact, Zaugg-Siergiej recently got a new job, which resulted in her moving to the Milwaukee area.

“I actually just accepted a coaching position out at Arrowhead for their girls team,” Zaugg-Siergiej said. “I’m also coaching a U14 winter club youth team. Between those two I’m still playing myself, so I still travel and play and train all that kind of stuff.

“In the summers I also run a camp, so the entire summer was incredibly busy.”

While it was not the most well-attended game of the season for the Brewers, Miller Park still exceeded the 16,805 in attendance for the gold medal game in Vancouver on Feb. 25.

Vetter and Zaugg-Siergiej each stepped up in front of that crowd and delivered strong pitches to catcher Jonathan Lucroy behind the plate.

“I got a little nervous, but it was fun,” said Zaugg-Siergiej, who added that Vetter’s pitch was the more impressive of the two. “I’m just glad I made it on target all the way to home plate. She did play baseball growing up and I’ve never played baseball before.

“Hers was pretty hard. I’m going to give her that one.”

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USA’s Jinelle Zaugg-Siergiej (left) and Kerry Weiland lie on the ice as they watch a breakaway contest during the team’s practice at the Britannia Centre on Wednesday Feb.24, 2010 at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. (AP Photo/Scott Gardner, CP)


Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

Dickerson cites loose turf for hamstring pull

The Brewers expect outfielder Chris Dickerson to miss the team’s remaining five home games after he slipped on some loose turf in Tuesday’s loss and strained his left hamstring. 
Asked how he felt Wednesday afternoon, Dickerson said, “I feel like I got kicked by a donkey.” 
He blamed the injury on a loose chunk of center field grass at Miller Park, where the grounds crew recently replaced a swath of turf that had worn out over the summer. The ballpark, with its retractable roof and high walls, has proven a very difficult place to grow grass over its 10 seasons. 
Dickerson, who was hurt when he broke back on a double over his head, thinks it’s a problem that needs to be addressed. 
“You you come out there with me right now, we could pick up a square and walk off with it,” he said. “It was so noticeable last night that guys in [the Reds] bullpen were yelling at me last night going, ‘What the heck is going on out there?’ There were huge divots. Every first step, we were taking huge chunks out.” 
Manager Ken Macha said he expected Dickerson to miss about five days. That would coincide with the season’s remaining homestand. The Brewers will finish the year next week at New York and Cincinnati. 
Macha took a moment to praise longtime head groundkeeper Gary Vanden Berg and the rest of the Miller Park crew. 
“Every place has issues,” Macha said. “In Oakland, they play football games and the outfield is a disaster. The people here, they do a great job with the field.”
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Cain gets start in series finale

For the third straight day against the Reds, the Brewers lineup featured a different starter in center field. After Carlos Gomez and Chris Dickerson started the first two games, manager Ken Macha had rookie Lorenzo Cain in the lineup Wednesday.

At shortstop, rookie Alcides Escobar got a second straight day off, with veteran Craig Counsell in the lineup once again. When asked Tuesday about starting September callup Luis Cruz instead of Counsell, Macha said he would not do it against a contender like the Reds.
The only other change to the usual lineup featured George Kottaras behind the plate, as he typically is when veteran lefty Randy Wolf is on the mound.
Here’s the rest of the lineup:
Weeks  2B
Hart  RF
Braun  LF
Fielder  1B
McGehee  3B
Counsell  SS
Cain  CF
Kottaras  C
Wolf  P
– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter
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Bush nearing end of line with Brewers?

When Dave Bush pitches next at Miller Park, what uniform will be wearing?

Consider it a question for the offseason, because barring an injury to one of his teammates Bush is finished for the home portion of the Brewers’ schedule. He took the loss against the Reds on Tuesday after allowing four runs, two earned, in 5 1/3 innings. 
Bush is not Andy Pettitte to the Yankees. He’s not Carlos Zambrano to the Cubs or Ben Sheets (was) to the Brewers. But consider how relatively rare it is for a starter to spend five years in a rotation and that Bush, with 143 Brewers starts, is 12th on the franchise’s all-time leaderboard. Chris Carpenter has made only 15 more St. Louis starts than Bush has made for Milwaukee. 
“I’ve thought about it the last couple of days, not really in the front of my mind, but in the back of it,” Bush said of the potential end to his Brewers tenure. “I don’t know if it’s a sad day, so to speak, but I did think at the end of the game that it could be the last time that I pitch here in this uniform.” 
Bush fell to 7-13 this season but is 28-27 in his career at Miller Park. The Brewers plan to add right-handed pitching prospect Mark Rogers to the rotation beginning Friday, pushing Bush from Sunday’s home-season finale to Monday’s series opener in New York. Depending on how the team juggles its starters over that final road trip, Bush’s next start could be his last of the season. 
Bush’s arrival from Toronto — he came along with pitcher Zach Jackson and outfielder Gabe Gross for popular first baseman Lyle Overbay and pitcher Ty Taubenheim — opened a permanent spot in the Major Leagues for Prince Fielder. 
What does he see in his future? 
“We’ll wait and see. There’s no hurry at this point,” Bush said. “All options are open. I don’t have anything planned or anything set in stone, other than to see what happens. This is my first time through it. I’m not really sure what the offers will be, but I guess I’m a little curious to find out.” 
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Counsell, Dickerson get starts

Manager Ken Macha is stacking the lineup with a couple of left-handed bats against Reds right-hander Edinson Volquez as the Brewers try to get on the board in the series. That means starts for Chris Dickerson in center field and Craig Counsell at shortstop:

Rickie Weeks  2B

Corey Hart  RF
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Chris Dickerson  CF
Jonathan Lucroy  C
Craig Counsell  SS
Dave Bush  RHP
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Gomez gets another start as Brewers host Reds

With the National League Central-leading Reds in town for a three-game series, Brewers manager Ken Macha had no surprises in store when he filled out his lineup card.

In center field, the only position in question lately when it comes to who will start, Macha started Carlos Gomez, after giving Lorenzo Cain the nod for Sunday’s series finale in San Francisco.
Gomez batted .400 on the last road trip, collecting eight hits in 20 at-bats along with four stolen bases and two RBIs in five starts. 
Here’s the rest of the lineup:
Weeks  2B
Hart  RF
Braun  LF
Fielder  1B
McGehee  3B
Gomez  CF
Escobar  SS
Lucroy  C
Capuano  P
– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter

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Brewers officially eliminated

The Brewers were never really in the National League Central race this season, a first for Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and the rest of the club’s relatively young core. But it still stung on Sunday, when they were officially out of it. 
Jose Guillen belted a first-inning grand slam and finished with six RBIs to help the Giants avoid a three-game sweep with a 9-2 thumping of the Brewers, putting San Francisco back in first place in the competitive National League West and formally eliminating Milwaukee from the Central. 
“I don’t think there’s been any point at all in the second half where we’ve been excited about where we’re at in the standings or we’ve really felt we had a realistic chance of winning our division,” said left fielder Ryan Braun, who provided two highlights, one in the field and one at the plate. 
“Obviously that’s disappointing,” Braun said. “It’s different for all of us, because each of the last three years we’ve been fortunate to be in it for the majority of the year. In ’07, it went down to the final week. In ’08, we went to the postseason. And last year we finished the season strong. 
“It’s a different experience. It’s hard to have adrenaline or intensity unless you’re playing against a team like [the Giants] … trying to get to the postseason. For most of us, I don’t think we’ve ever been on a bad team. It’s a different experience. Definitely not fun.”
Braun did have some fun on Sunday, robbing Giants center fielder Cody Ross of a home run in the first inning and then hitting a two-run homer, Braun’s 23rd this season, in the sixth. 
But Braun’s effort was not enough for the Brewers to avoid falling back to 10 games under .500 at 69-79. They are 13 games behind the first-place Reds in the loss column, and Cincinnati has only 12 games to play. 
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