May 2011

Morgan fired-up after playing in Arizona

Nyjer Morgan took his excitement to Twitter after the first game of his rehabilitation assignment in extended Spring Training. He reported going 1-for-3 with a two-run home run, a stolen base and four walks.

“I was feeling like Cory Hart with dat bomb I hit!” Morgan wrote, a nod to teammate Corey Hart’s three-homer effort on Monday night in Milwaukee.

Morgan, on the 15-day DL since fracturing his left middle finger on May 5,  is expected to play one more game Wednesday and could be back with the Brewers for Friday’s series opener against Tim Lincecum and the Giants.  Because he is playing in exhibition games in extended Spring Training, he can lead off every inning if he and the Brewers so choose. That’s how Morgan was able to make at least seven plate appearances on Tuesday.

Here in Milwaukee, Hart and the Brewers continue a series against the Nationals. Here’s the lineup:

Rickie Weeks 2B
Corey Hart RF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Mark Kotsay CF
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Chris Narveson LHP

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Hart changes stance, fortunes

Corey Hart shrugged-off his slow start to his season, an 0-for-11 slump and a terrible Monday afternoon batting practice to deliver three home runs and seven RBIs, tying franchise records on both counts and powering the surging Brewers to an 11-3 win over the Nationals at Miller Park.

Hart admitted he needed a night like this. He was homerless with only one RBI in his first 21 games of 2011 after rushing back from the disabled list, where he spent most of April recovering from a rib-cage strain.

“Hopefully, I can start something and keep it going,” Hart said.

He felt so awful about his pregame batting practice that he overhauled his batting stance and went to the indoor cages with hitting coach Dale Sveum for more swings. Hart changed the position of his hands and his feet, and came out swinging.

“I was pulling my hair out, looking for things,” Hart said. “I changed my stance for the last round of ‘BP’ and that’s what I went with.”

It worked, and some history was in order: Hart became the first Brewer to slug three home runs in a game since Geoff Jenkins in 2003, and the first to drive in seven runs since Damian Miller in 2007. Ten different Brewers on 15 occasions have hit three homers, and five players have logged seven RBIs.

Here’s the list of players who have hit three homers for the Brewers:

  • Ben Oglivie (three times)
  • Jeromy Burnitz (twice)
  • Jenkins (twice)
  • Richie Sexson (twice)
  • Cecil Cooper
  • Hart
  • Tyler Houston
  • Paul Molitor
  • Dale Sveum
  • Jose Valentin

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Brewers claim Herrera

A club official confirmed that the Brewers have claimed left-hander Daniel Ray Herrera off waivers from the Reds.  He’d been pitching at Triple-A, and the move makes sense considering Milwaukee has no lefties in the bullpen at the moment. More on the move to come.

Update: The Brewers announced they had claimed Herrera and optioned him to Triple-A. Manny Parra has been moved to the 60-day DL.

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Marcum is NL player of the week

After beating the Dodgers and Rockies last week, right-hander Shaun Marcum earned National League player of the week honors on Monday.

Marcum was 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA last week, allowing only two runs and nine hits with 12 strikeouts in wins at Los Angeles on May 16 and against Colorado at Miller Park on Saturday. The regular season is only seven weeks old but already three Brewers have won the league’s weekly award. Prince Fielder was NL player of the week for April 4-10, and Ryan Braun took the honor for April 18-24.

Update: Marcum is sharing the award with D-backs pitcher Daniel Hudson, who was 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his two starts last week.

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Morgan ready for rehab stint

You’ll  begin seeing Audrey Snyder’s byline on Brewers.com today as she takes over from Jordan Schelling as my right hand woman. She filed a note this morning about outfielder Nyjer Morgan, who should be back with the Brewers by the time they host the Giants next weekend.

Here are the details:

Outfielder Nyjer Morgan and left-handed reliever Zach Braddock are tentatively scheduled to take the next step in their rehabilitation processes.

Braddock (0-1, 2.79 ERA) is expected to throw a maximum of 35 pitches on Monday for Class-A Wisconsin. Weather could impact whether or not Braddock makes an appearance. The lefty hasn’t played with the big league club since being placed on the 15-Day DL on May 3 due to a sleep disorder.

Morgan has been on the 15-day DL since May 6 with a fractured left middle finger and is expected to go to extended Spring Training in Phoenix on Tuesday. Morgan appeared in just 15 games this season after a previous stint on the DL with a right thigh bruise limited him early on.

The player and manager Ron Roenicke met to discuss the move and the plan is for Morgan to play two games in Arizona where he will see a lot of action. Morgan could lead off every inning in the extended program if desired.

“In my eyes it’s healed, it’s healed enough,” Morgan said. “But it’s all about basically just looking after my future and what’s better for the team. Ron wants 100-percent ‘Nyj Morgan’ out there and I can’t blame him, even though I want to get out there now.”

Roenicke said Morgan needs six or seven at bats and though the outfielder originally wanted to stay close by, the predicted weather forecast for the Timber Rattlers, who head to Peoria, Ill. made Arizona the best option.

“He doesn’t have to just play his position, he can lead off the innings, play seven innings and get six at bats, which makes a lot more sense for me,” Roenicke said.

Audrey, by the way, is a Penn State student who will help keep me cover the Brewers this summer and will occasionally step-in to cover opponents at Miller Park. You can tell her what you think about Carlos Gomez, or simply say hello, via email.

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Parra shut down again

Brewers left-hander Manny Parra will seek a second opinion on his sprained left elbow from noted orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum after a recurrence of pain during a throwing session on Friday.

Parra will have another MRI scan to determine whether anything more is going on in his elbow than the original diagnosis from Brewers doctors on May 4 — that he has a sprained ulnar collateral ligament and sprained flexor tendon. The worry then, and now, is that a combination of UCL and flexor tendon trouble is often a precursor to Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.

“I was throwing, I can make it look normal, but it was not in my best interests to continue to throw,” Parra said. “There was some increased pain on the spot, directly. The whole intent is to try to allow the ligament to recover. We had to back off. … Let’s be smart, back off, and, if we can, save it.”

Parra was nearing the end of a Minor League rehabilitation assignment for a back injury earlier this month when he developed elbow discomfort. After the initial MRI showed the ligament was intact, he took seven days off before re-starting a throwing program.

Initially, the results were good. That changed this week.

“There’s nothing to be nervous about [because] there’s nothing I can do,” Parra said.

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Braun plays, and Rivera, too

Brewers All-Star left fielder Ryan Braun is apparently trying to give the club’s in-house iron man, Prince Fielder, a run for his money. Braun is making his 45th consecutive start tonight against the Rockies, a night after he exited early in San Diego with a sore left shoulder. Braun and Fielder are the only Brewers to start every game this season.

Mike Rivera gets a start as well, his first behind the plate for the Brewers since Oct. 3, 2009. Rivera just re-joined the club this week. We’ll have to ask Ron Roenicke about playing Rivera over Wil Nieves, who is batting .162.  I wouldn’t read too much into Jonathan Lucroy not starting; he was struck in the left wrist by a relay throw last night but told me after the game he was fine. Roenicke said before yesterday’s game that he was considering giving Lucroy a day off.

Players are just now filtering into Miller Park and will play a “show and go” game tonight. They landed in Milwaukee just before 5:30 a.m. CT after losing a nighttime getaway game in San Diego a few hours ago.

The full lineup:

Rickie Weeks 2B
Corey Hart RF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Mike Rivera C
Carlos Gomez CF
Zack Greinke RHP

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Jenkins will represent Brewers at Draft

Former Brewer Geoff Jenkins will represent the club at this year’s First-Year Player Draft, 16 years after he was a first-round pick himself.

Jenkins, thw ninth overall pick in the 1995 Draft, will be among a group of club reps that includes Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Rod Carew, Tommy Lasorda, Gaylord Perry and Jim Rice. They will be sitting at their club’s draft table and will phone in each pick.

Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft begins with a one-hour preview show on Monday, June 6, at 6 p.m. ET on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and supplemental compensation round. MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player.

The Brewers own two selections in the first round of this year’s Draft — 12th overall and 15th. The latter pick is compensation for right-hander Dylan Covey, who was drafted by the Brewers last year but did not sign after being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

Jenkins played all 10 of his Major League seasons with the Brewers and ranks in the franchise’s top 10 in nearly every offensive category, including second with 212 home runs and fourth with 704 RBIs.

He played in Milwaukee from 1998-2007 before a stint with the Phillies that netted Jenkins a World Series ring — and a chance to play against the Brewers in the 2008 National League Division Series. Jenkins’ clutch hit sparked Philadelphia’s win in Game 7 of the World Series against the Rays, but the team released him at the end of 2009 Spring Training.

He signed a one-day contract with Milwaukee in 2010 to formally retire as a Brewer. At that time, Jenkins spoke of a desire to return to the organization in some capacity, and the Draft represents his first official duties.

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No Gomez for series opener in San Diego

Carlos Gomez is getting the night off after an 0-for-7 series in Los Angeles, so former Padre Mark Kotsay is starting in center field for the opener of a quick, two-game series at spacious PETCO Park. Yovani Gallardo is aiming for his third win in a row.

BREWERS
Rickie Weeks 2B
Corey Hart RF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Mark Kotsay CF
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Yovani Gallardo RHP

PADRES
Chris Denorfia RF
Jason Bartlett SS
Chase Headley 3B
Brad Hawpe 1B
Ryan Ludwick LF
Eric Patterson CF
Kyle Phillips C
Alberto Gonzalez 2B
Dustin Moseley RHP

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Greinke tipping, too?

Watching Zack Greinke go from no-hitter to being knocked around in the fifth inning on Sunday, it crossed Brewers manager Ron Roenicke’s mind that the Pirates knew what was coming.

Roenicke has a skill for noticing when pitchers “tip” their offerings, but could not see whether that was the case Sunday because Greinke pitched with his back to the home dugout. Roenicke had a better view on Wednesday of left-hander Randy Wolf, and noticed he was tipping in a loss to the Padres.

“We’ll probably have to go look at some video to see if there’s anything there,” Roenicke said. “I don’t know. I don’t think his pitches were located where he wanted. Still, sometimes when everything is hit like that, you kind of wonder.”

There’s another possibility. Greinke may have just had a bad inning, which would be understandable considering it began with a 12-pitch battle with Neil Walker. The Pirates second baseman won that battle with a solo home run.

“I don’t think they knew what was coming,” Braun said. “I think they were just getting in some hitters’ counts and taking advantage.”

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