September 2010

Could Rogers, Jeffress get Phil Hughes treatment?

Brewers manager Ken Macha offered an interesting idea for recently-promoted pitching prospects Jeremy Jeffress and Mark Rogers, both of whom have history as starters but are currently in Milwaukee’s bullpen. Treat them in 2011 like the Yankees did right-hander Phil Hughes, who pitched in relief in 2009 before moving permanently to New York’s starting rotation this season. 
“If you took those guys and you started them, their innings would probably pile up to the point where you’d get into July and say, ‘These guys have enough innings,'” Macha said. “If you took a year and you pitched them out of the bullpen, say for 70-80 innings in multiple-inning stints, kind of like the Yankees broke in Phil Hughes, then you have a starter for the next year.”
It’s an intriguing way to get Jeffress and Rogers, neither of whom have much experience above Double-A, into the big league mix for 2011 without giving up on them as starters for 2012 and beyond. The Brewers’ long-term need is obviously starting pitching, and they have already moved Zach Braddock to relief. 
Something to think about as we start looking ahead to next year.
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Melvin conducting annual club review

Brewers manager Ken Macha met for more than 90 minutes Saturday afternoon with Brewers general manager Doug Melvin and assistant GM Gord Ash, part of Melvin’s annual review of the organization. The sit-down did not include any discussion of Macha’s future beyond 2010. 
Macha is in the second season of a two-year contract, though the club holds an option for 2011. 
“We just talked about the players,” Macha said. “We spent equal amount of time on all aspects [of the team].” 
Melvin holds similar meetings every year with members of the coaching staff, athletic training staff and scouting department. 
Last year, Melvin pre-empted speculation about Macha’s future on the final day of the regular season by announcing the manager would be back for 2010 with an option year added onto his contract. Macha has been given no promises about a similar heads-up at the end of this season. 
“That’s entirely up to them, how they want to handle it,” Macha said. 
It’s been a disappointing season for the Brewers, who once again rank near the bottom of the National League in starting pitching and entered Saturday’s game against the Cubs with a 65-75 record, in fourth place in the NL Central. The Brewers have owned a losing record every day since April 23, when they were 8-8.
“I want to win,” Macha said. “It hasn’t happened this year. We’ve got some young guys in there now and we’ll see how they do.” 
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Rogers made sure to enjoy his debut

Before Mark Rogers throw his first official pitch in the Major Leagues, he stepped off the Miller Park mound and had a look around. 

“It was fun. More than anything, it felt good to be out there,” Rogers said. “I had to step back from the mound and, for a second, take it all in. Then I got back up there to do my job. I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t have a good time tonight.”
Rogers pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning in the Brewers’ 4-0 loss to the Cubs on Friday and made Chicago first baseman Micah Hoffpauir his first strikeout victim. He was added to the Brewers’ active roster earlier in the day. 
Brandon Kintzler also made his big league-debut on Friday with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Both young right-handers will get a chance to make an impression for 2011 over this season’s final three-plus weeks. 
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Macha eyes Marlins series for Rogers start

Newly-recalled right-hander Mark Rogers is expected to make his Major League debut out of the Brewers’ bullpen but could see a start before the end of the season. Manager Ken Macha would prefer to avoid starting a rookie in a game with postseason implications, so he is eyeing the Brewers’ Sept. 23-29 series against the Marlins. That happens to fall in a stretch of 17 straight games without an off-day, so Macha could use Rogers to give his other five starters and extra day of rest. 
Rogers, meanwhile, is hoping to use his stint with the Brewers as a springboard to 2011.
“I’d like to try to make this team out of camp next year,” Rogers said. “That’s my ultimate goal, and this is another tool to prepare myself for Spring Training next year. I’m up here to learn, and I’m extremely excited about it. It’s another step in the right direction. … 
“I’ve been healthy all year, and that was the main goal, to make my starts every fifth day. I was able to do that. That’s a huge stepping stone for me.” 
For more of Rogers’ post-callup comments, check out Brewers.com a bit later tonight. 
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Rogers joins Crew for opener vs. Cubs

The field is full of players at the moment, four full hours before game time, and it’s tough to tell who’s who. The Brewers are in their usual Friday throwback mode, wearing royal blue tops for early batting practice that make them extremely easy to confuse with the Cubs out for early work of their own.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to tell the teams apart later on. 
The Brewers have one newcomer at the park today in right-hander Mark Rogers, their first-round Draft pick from 2004 who was recalled from Double-A Huntsville. As reported a couple of days ago, Rogers was already in Milwaukee for his year-end motion analysis, and since he was on the 40-man roster, activating him made a lot of sense. It will be interesting to see how he’s used over the final three-plus weeks of the season, in relief or as a spot starter. Look for more on Rogers later over at Brewers.com.
Here are the lineups:
CUBS
Kosuke Fukudome  RF
Starlin Castro  SS
Marlon Byrd  CF
Micah Hoffpauir  1B
Geovany Soto  C
Alfonso Soriano  LF
Blake DeWitt  2B
Jeff Baker  Darwin Barney 3B
Carlos Zambrano  RHP
BREWERS
Rickie Weeks  2B
Corey Hart  RF
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Chris Dickerson  CF
Alcides Escobar  SS
Jonathan Lucroy  C
Dave Bush  RHP
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No shortage of praise for Hoffman in clubhouse

Following last night’s thriller, which featured career save No. 600 for Trevor Hoffman, we had a sidebar on his Brewers teammates’ reactions to the moment.
While that story captured the emotions and feelings in the clubhouse, there was far too much to fit in after the game. With a guy like Hoffman who’s frequently described as the “best teammate,” there was hardly of lack of things to say in the home clubhouse.
Braun: “Like we were going to the playoffs”
According to left fielder Ryan Braun, the emotion following the final out of the game was far greater than the meaningless early September game that it starter out as.
“It felt like we were going to the playoffs,” he said. “It was exciting. I think it was exciting for all of us to have something to celebrate, for all of us to have been a part of something so special. That’s something that we might not ever see again. Who knows if anybody else ever gets to 600 saves.”
Coffey: “I was 100 percent spectator”
Perhaps most excited about the achievement — more so even than Hoffman himself — were Hoffman’s bullpen mates.
Reliever Todd Coffey described his feelings as “beyond goosebumps” as he become more of a spectator than a teammate. After that, he went on for a few minutes about the emotions he felt both when Hoffman entered the game and recorded his 600th save.
“As soon as he walked out of the bullpen, the entire bullpen was up and I think we were all clapping louder than the fans, we were hollering louder than the fans,” Coffey said. “I don’t think any of us actually realized we were in the bullpen. We were all out there with Hoffy.
“We were hanging over, we even thought about, ‘let’s just jump the wall and go. Then we thought, ‘we better not jump the wall.’
“I think me, Zach [Braddock] and Kam[eron Loe] all hit the pile at the same time. I think I felt the whole pile moving when we hit it. It’s an experience that I’ll never forget. He’s always there for every one of us. For us to be there for him, it’s amazing. He cares less about himself and more about his teammates than anything else.”
Davis: “Just incredible”
Others had less to say, but their thoughts were no less insightful.
Veteran left-handed starter Doug Davis recalled being part of a similar moment early in his career.
“Definitely the most exciting thing I’ve ever been a part of,” Davis said. “My first win was John Wetteland’s 300th save. I thought that was impressive, but this, twice as many saves, it’s just incredible.”
Bush: “An amazing number”
Another Brewers starter, right-hander Dave Bush, took particular notice of the number of people in the dugout during that final inning, as everyone wanted the best view they could get of Hoffman’s historic save.
“It’s an amazing number, one that nobody’s ever gotten to before,” Bush said. “I can’t even fathom at all what it takes to reach that.
“It was exciting. Probably the most people I’ve ever seen in the dugout in the ninth inning. Everybody was coming down here because they wanted to be as close to it as they could. As a player, moments like that are few and far between. To be his teammate and to be around for something like is just awesome.”
Lucroy: “I’m totally lucky and blessed”
After beginning the season at Double-A Huntsville, catcher Jonathan Lucroy called the game Tuesday night, including Hoffman’s thrilling ninth.
As he waited on the mound for the all-time saves leader, with “Hell’s Bells” blaring from the stadium speakers, Lucroy said he had goosebumps and began to shake from the nerves.
He stayed relaxed behind the plate, though, and didn’t change a thing. Until the final out as he ran down toward first base.
“It’s something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life and cherish,” Lucroy said. “To be able to remember something like that, it’s a blessing for me to even be able to experience it.
“To see him achieve a goal like that is just something that every baseball player lives for. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy. He totally deserves it. It’s an honor for me to even be here and just experience it.
“I was jacked up and excited. I told myself I was going to sacrifice my life to get an out for him if I needed to. I was going to go everything I could to get an out, no matter what I had to do, I was going to sacrifice everything for him.
“For somebody like that, to put in the kind of work he has, to play for as long as he has, and have the kind of character that he has, and for something like that to happen to him, and for me to even be there and be a part of it, it’s an unbelievable feeling.
“I was the first one [to the mound]. Usually I run down to first base and back up on ground balls, but I cut it off halfway. I was going to go get there first as fast as I could. I grabbed him and he grabbed me in a headlock and then everybody else hit and we went at it.
“It’s not very often you see grown men crying out there and there were grown men crying on the field. It was very emotional, I was trying to hold back as best I could. It’s just the payoff for so much hard work and just shows you that if you work hard and be a good person in this game there’s a lot of good things that happen to you.
“I’m totally lucky and blessed to even be here. To experience that, I don’t even deserve that. I don’t even deserve to be on the same field as that guy.”
Axford: “My heart was racing the entire time”
Of course, no story about Hoffman’s historic accomplishment would be complete without some mention of his replacement, rookie John Axford.
As has been the case all season, Axford had nothing but positive things to say about his mentor in the Brewers bullpen.
“He’s meant everything to my development because he carries about his business perfectly. He does everything right,” Axford said. “That’s been the best mentor for me. I just try to watch him and see what he does and see how I can build upon that. Every time I go out there I just try and do right by Trevor. I just want to do basically what Trevor would do and do things the right way.
“My heart was racing the entire time once the ‘Hell’s Bells’ started. My heart was going and it didn’t stop the entire time until we’re actually here right now and I’m still talking a mile a minute. I still feel the emotion and the rush from it. I think it was absolutely unbelievable.”
“It’s a cool kind of turn around. At the beginning of the year, I got my first save and Hoffy went in and got a hold for me. Now I got to go in and save that game for him, which is probably going to be the best hold of my entire life right there. I’m definitely glad I was in that game for sure.”
McGehee: “The ultimate professional”
Third baseman Casey McGehee admitted he was nervous when Hoffman entered the game. In fact, he was just hoping the ball wasn’t hit to him.
Once the final out had been recorded, however, McGehee was thrilled to be a part of such a big moment and to have played with someone who is the all-time leader
in any category.
“I think the reaction of all the guys kind of let everybody see how important to this team and to us he is,” McGehee said. “You couldn’t have asked for it to happen to a better guy. He’s the ultimate professional with everything he does.
“There’s not too many people you played with that you can say you played with the all-time best anything. When my career is over and I’m sitting around telling stories at a bar somewhere, that’s going to be one of the ones I tell.
“You can’t block that out, we all knew what was going on. Most of us, we’re huge fans of the game. Coming up, we remember watching Trevor Hoffman when he was in his prime and he was virtually unhittable. To be any small part of it, it’s pretty special.
“Some of these guys that got called up today, first day in the big leagues, not a bad way to start your big league career.”
Fielder: “Happy to be a part of it”
The final out was recorded by Prince Fielder, as veteran shortstop Craig Counsell fielded a ground ball and fired to Fielder at first.
As Fielder closed his first-baseman’s mitt on the ball, he joined McGehee and Lucroy as the first three players to embrace Hoffman on the mound.
“It was awesome,” Fielder said. “Coming into this year, you knew he was close to getting it. Everything he had to go through to get to it and he finally got it, I’m really happy for him. It’s really awesome.
“It [ranks] up there just because it’s your teammate and it’s a really special moment and something that nobody else has ever done. That’s what makes it even more special and I’m just really happy to be a part of it.
Narveson: “Pretty amazing”
But none of it would have been possible had it not been for an impressive seven-inning performance by lefty starter Chris Narveson. 
His brilliance on the mound was lost in the shuffle, but everything was set up by one of Narveson’s best starts of the 2010 season.
“That was pretty amazing,” Narveson said. “To be able to witness it and be the guy that started that game, was pretty special.”
– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter
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Hoffman humbled by well-wishes

Trevor Hoffman’s voicemail filled up fast after he logged career save No. 600 on Tuesday night. But one call Wednesday got through. 
“Being able to speak to the Commissioner was big,” Hoffman said, referring to his morning chat with Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig. “We talked about similar feelings and emotions that he had gone through the other day with his statue.”
The Brewers dedicated a statue of Selig outside Miller Park on Aug. 24. Hoffman attended along with a who’s who of Hall of Famers, baseball executives and former Brewers. 
“[We talked about] the people that rallied, and how you handle it and how you feel,” Hoffman said. “It was a neat moment to share with him. He understood that I was bombarded with a lot of texts, a lot of voicemails. It’s kind of daunting to think about the time it’s going to take to get back to people, but we’ll accomplish that.”
Hoffman also heard from two former managers, Bud Black of the Padres and Bruce Bochy of the Giants. Padres president Tom Garfinkel left a message, as did Red Sox right-hander John Lackey and other players.  
And Hoffman was particularly touched by a message from Brewers legend Robin Yount. 
“He took time away from his ‘redneck tailgate’ as he called it, with him and his dogs in the back of his pickup, listening to the game,” Hoffman said. “To hear from guy of his stature in his organization and his community, that’s so humbling. I appreciated that one.”
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Cain, Escobar return to action

The Brewers are back to their regular lineup against the Cardinals tonight for the rubber match of the three-game series. With left-handed Rookie of the Year candidate Jamie Garcia on the mound for St. Louis, the only lefty bat belongs to Prince Fielder.

Rickie Weeks  2B
Corey Hart  RF
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Lorenzo Cain  CF
Alcides Escobar  SS
Jonathan Lucroy  C
Chris Capuano  LHP
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Brewers proud to be part of Hoffmans milestone

Hoffman1.jpg

Scott Paulus/Brewers
Usually, Trevor Hoffman leads the clubhouse ceremony when a player reaches a personal milestone. He did it for Mike Cameron last season when Cameron became the 20th Major Leaguer to reach 250 home runs and 250 stolen bases. He made a particularly touching tribute to Jason Kendall after the catcher’s 2,000th hit. 
On Tuesday, it was the Brewers’ turn to honor Hoffman. He finally notched save No. 600 in a 4-2 win over the Cardinals at Miller Park. 
“We made him get up there and say a few thoughts,”said shortstop Craig Counsell, who converted the final out. “He was great, as usual. And, as usual, he defers everything to the team. It was special because of the respect everybody has for how he does his job and who he is as a person.
“To be a part of it was great because of how much admiration we all have for Trevor,” Counsell said. “That’s what makes it special. Hopefully, that came out [in the celebration]. The way he does his job is the way we all try to do ours.”
The ballclub honored Hoffman on the field immediately after the game and presented him with an oil painting commissioned for the event. The team sold out of 1,000 “Hoffman 600 saves” t-shirts in about 20 minutes of the final out, but expect to have more in stock by Thursday or Friday. 
And that now-famous banner will remain at “600 SAVES” through the end of the season, a tribute to Hoffman’s career achievements. 
Here are more images from Hoffman’s big night, courtesy of Brewers photographer Scott Paulus. 
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Lefties vs. Lohse

Left-handers are hitting .355 against Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse this season (but he has not fared much better against righties — .320) so the Brewers have their left-handed options in the lineup tonight as the teams continue a three-game series. 

Here’s the lineup:

Rickie Weeks  2B
Corey Hart  RF

Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Chris Dickerson  CF
Jonathan Lucroy  C
Craig Counsell  SS
Chris Narveson  LHP
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