June 2011

Marcum to be evaluated before Tuesday’s game

MILWAUKEE — Shaun Marcum’s status for Wednesday’s start remains up in the air as he’ll meet with the medical staff before Tuesday’s game.

Marcum worked on fielding ground balls off the mound before batting practice and manager Ron Roenicke said Marcum will meet with Dr. Raasch to determine whether or not he can start Wednesday.

“I want to be out there, but like I said there are doctors that know a lot more about injuries and stuff than I do,” Marcum said. “It’s a matter of seeing doctors and getting the OK to go out there and play tomorrow.”

Roenicke said he is more concerned with the strained left hip flexor bothering Marcum when he’s in the field. The manager said he understands his pitcher is a battler who wants to play but said he doesn’t want to put Marcum in a situation where he could reinjure himself.

“He felt pretty good moving around, he’s not 100 percent but he wanted to pitch,” Roenicke said. “If he does [pitch] we may limit him to a certain amount of innings to make sure he doesn’t fatigue that area that would really have a chance to set him back again for the next outing.”

Marcum threw a bullpen session Monday and Roenicke said the right-handed pitcher tested the injury on his final 10 pitches. The difference between the session and pitching a live game — where a ball back to the mound will force him to move around — is something Roenicke said he can’t completely plan for.

“They didn’t pay me to sit here and watch games and any time it’s my day to pitch I want to pitch,” Marcum said. “I’ve done it in the past and I want to continue to try and take the ball on my day and go out there and compete.”

Be sure to check back for the latest on Marcum’s injury when more information is made available.

-Audrey Snyder

Marcum cleared to throw

The Brewers’ head physician on Monday confirmed right-hander Shaun Marcum’s left hip-flexor strain and encouraged Marcum to test the joint in a throwing session. Raasch did not detect any tears in the MRI scan of Marcum’s hip that was performed over the weekend in Boston.

Marcum, who exited his Friday start against the Red Sox after only one inning, is tentatively scheduled to pitch again on Wednesday against the Rays. If he cannot pitch, then right-handed reliever Marco Estrada could make a spot start in Marcum’s place.

“It will be a day by day decision,” assistant general manager Gord Ash said via e-mail.

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Saturday game shifted to nighttime start

The Red Sox and Brewers agreed Thursday to shift the start of Saturday’s game to 6:10 p.m. CT to accommodate a morning parade for the NHL champion Bruins. The baseball game was originally scheduled for 12:10 p.m. CT. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and city officials requested the change in an effort to minimize congestion caused by the large crowd expected for the 10 a.m. CT parade. The Red Sox plan to pay special tribute to the Stanley Cup Champions before Sunday’s series finale.

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Braddock sent down

The Brewers made an unexpected roster move after their 9-5 win over the Cubs on Wednesday, optioning left-handed reliever Zach Braddock to Triple-A Nashville and recalling Daniel Ray Herrera in his place.

Braddock spent time on the disabled list this season while getting treatment for a sleep disorder, and that issue apparently was still affecting him. Manager Ron Roenicke said the 23-year-old had been reporting late to the ballpark, though two coaches said he never missed a meeting.

“He had his issues with the sleep thing and he’s been trying to get all that taken care of, but he’s got to get the whole thing taken care of,” bullpen coach Stan Kyles said. “He’s been working hard on all of that. I think this will be good for him, to get away for a while so he can get taken care of what he needs so he can come back and help us.

“He was disappointed, but I think this is going to help him in the long run and that’s going to help us. He’s a big part of this thing.”

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Hawkins wants increased role in ‘pen

Brewers reliever LaTroy Hawkins expressed in a pre-game sit-down Wednesday with manager Ron Roenicke that he was ready for a more prominent role in the bullpen.

Roenicke has shied away from using Hawkins in high-leverage situations since the 38-year-old right-hander returned from a season-opening stint on the disabled list to build strength in his surgically-repaired right shoulder. With Kameron Loe unavailable to work the eighth inning Tuesday night with a 4-1 Brewers lead, Roenicke turned to another right-hander, Marco Estrada, who surrendered three runs.

Hawkins ended up pitching a scoreless ninth inning with the game tied at 4, his first appearance in a week, but the Brewers lost in the bottom of the 10th. On Wednesday afternoon, Hawkins went to the manager for a closed-door chat.

“That was a positive conversation,” Roenicke said. “I figured I would have that conversation with ‘Hawk.’ Whether he was in here or me going to talk to him out on the field somewhere, it was going to happen.

“He hadn’t pitched, and I’m really not putting him in that spot that he thinks he could be put into. I’m glad he came in. I don’t think I’d feel real comfortable if he didn’t feel the way that he does, because hen he wouldn’t have confidence in himself and what he’s doing.”

After meeting with Hawkins, Roenicke called pitching coach Rick Kranitz and bench coach Jerry Narron into the office.

Hawkins declined to speak to a reported early in the afternoon, saying he’d rather talk directly with his manager.

Hawkins’ fastball velocity has not returned to its pre-surgery levels, but he told Roenicke on Wednesday that it’s partly because he has been throwing many more two-seam sinkers. Tuesday marked his 16th consecutive scoreless outing since he allowed a run in his season debut.

While Loe continues to fill-in for injured Takashi Saito as Milwaukee’s eight-inning man, Roenicke has been mixing and matching in the seventh. He’d like to find some stability there, and Hawkins could be the pick if he continues to get such positive results.

“We’re trying to find who’s going to be that guy,” Roenicke said. “I thought it was going to be Estrada for a while. He’s struggled lately. [Tim] Dillard has probably thrown good enough to slip in there. Then ‘Hawk,’ with his numbers and how he’s been doing, he’s a guy that I think I should put in there also.”

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Kottaras in, Nieves out

Wil Nieves’ weak bat has cost him his job as the Brewers’ backup catcher. The team on Wednesday sent Nieves outright to Triple-A Nashville and selected George Kottaras’ contract.

Kottaras had been hot at the plate for Nashville since the Brewers demoted him on April 21. He was hitting .343 there with four home runs and 21 RBIs, and presumably will take over Nieves’ role as Randy Wolf’s catcher. Kottaras and Wolf worked together extensively last season.

Nieves batted only .140 (7-for-50) and had more at-bats than any other Major Leaguer with no RBIs.

More on the move later from Wrigley Field.

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Saito cleared to try again

A day after he was scratched from a rehabilitation assignment at Class A Wisconsin, Brewers reliever Takashi Saito was cleared by a club doctor to try again Tuesday or Wednesday at Triple-A Nashville.

The precise plan was still being formulated when assistant general manager Gord Ash briefed reporters about Saito, who was in Appleton, Wis. on Sunday to rehab a left rib-cage strain when he reported feeling tightness in his upper back.

“He just didn’t feel right. He didn’t want to push it,” Ash said.

By Monday, when Saito was examined again by head team physician William Raasch, that sensation was gone.

Saito’s original schedule called him to pitch Sunday in Appleton, then Tuesday and Thursday in Nashville before re-joining the Brewers over the weekend in Boston. The Brewers may push him to Wednesday and Friday, Ash said, and will likely add an appearance or two beyond those games.

That would push Saito’s return to the big league bullpen into the Brewers’ next homestand.

“Just with the history he’s had you have to be careful,” Ash said. “So I can’t really tell you when.”

It’s the second time this season that Saito went out on a rehab assignment and returned to Milwaukee with a different injury. He was working back from a quadriceps strain in late April when he developed the rib-cage problem.

Saito, 41, has been limited to two appearances this season because of injuries. He was supposed to be the Brewers’ primary setup man for John Axford after making at least 45 appearances with an ERA of 2.83 or better in each of his first five Major League seasons. The Japanese import made 56 appearances in each of the past two seasons, including last year with Atlanta.

“If he duplicated what he did last year, he would have been a pretty important component for us,” Ash said. “If we get him healthy for the second half, it will be like making a trade.”

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Kotsay starts again as Brewers begin trip

Center fielder Mark Kotsay is getting the nod in center field for the second straight day as the Brewers begin a four-game series down I-94 at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. Kotsay, who had two hits in Sunday’s win including an RBI double, is 3-for-10 lifetime against Cubs starter Ryan Dempster. He gets the nod over Carlos Gomez (2-for-5) and Nyjer Morgan (0-for-9).

Here’s the lineup, including the usual Wil Nieves-Randy Wolf pairing:

Rickie Weeks 2B
Mark Kotsay CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Corey Hart RF
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Wil Nieves C
Randy Wolf LHP

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Brewers sign 14 Draft picks

The Brewers today announced they had signed 14 picks from last week’s First-Year Player Draft, plus three undrafted players. The highest signee is ninth-rounder Malcolm Dowell, a prep outfielder from LaGrange, Ga., and the list also includes University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee right-hander Chad Pierce of Fond du Lac, Wis.

Dowell was assigned to rookie-level Arizona and Pierce to the club’s advanced rookie affiliate in Helena, Mont. Both teams begin workouts on Tuesday.

Here’s the full list of players signed:

Round/Pick     Player                                  School                                       Affiliate
9/281                 CF Malcolm Dowell             LaGrange H.S. (Ga.)                    Arizona
10/311               LHP Michael Strong           Oklahoma State                            Helena
14/431               RHP Jacob Barnes              Florida Gulf Coast Univ.               Helena
15/461               RHP Andrew Moye            Georgia Southern Univ.                Helena
31/941               RHP Sean Albury                Nova Southeastern Univ.             Helena
34/1,031           C Adam Weisenburger       Miami (OH) Univ.                           Arizona
36/1,091           RHP Mitchell Conner          Elon Univ.                                      Arizona
37/1,121           RHP Casey Medlen              Univ. of North Florida                  Arizona
38/1,151           RHP Chad Pierce                  UW-Milwaukee                            Helena
41/1,241           3B Jalen Harris                     Lambrick Park SS (Toronto)       Arizona
45/1,361          SS Adrian Williams              UCLA                                               Helena
48/1,451          LHP Mike Francisco              Villanova  Univ.                            Arizona
49/1,481          2B Gant Elmore                     Yale Univ.                                     Helena
50/1,511           RF Matthew Franco            St. Thomas Aquinas H.S. (Fla.)    Arizona

Undrafted        RHP Gregory Davis              UC Santa Barbara                         Arizona
Undrafted        RF Brandon Macias             Univ. of Kansas                              Arizona
Undrafted        LHP Stephen Peterson        Univ. of Rhode Island                   Arizona

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Saito scratched with tight shoulder

For the second time this season, Brewers reliever Takashi Saito went out to rehab an injury and returned with a different injury.

This time it’s a tight right shoulder that sidelined Saito, who was supposed to pitch an inning for Class A Wisconsin on Sunday. He was scratched just before the Timber Rattlers’ game and drove home to Miller Park to be examined by head team physician William Raasch.

Saito will be examined again on Monday, and barring red flags will be sent to pitch Tuesday for Triple-A Nashville. The Brewers are trying to get him back for the start of their next homestand.

“He felt a little tightness in his shoulder, and he didn’t want to go out there and throw and take a chance on it becoming something worse,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “They’ve taken a look at it, and right now they’re just calling it shoulder tightness.”

It was an unfortunately familiar feeling for the 41-year-old Saito. In late April, he had just reported to Nashville to rehab a hamstring strain when he strained his left oblique, an injury that still has him on the 15-day disabled list.

Last year, Saito missed the Atlanta Braves’ postseason series against the eventual World Champion Giants because of a sore right shoulder.

It has been a costly injury for the Brewers, who were counting on Saito to be closer John Axford’s primary set-up man, and for Saito himself. His one-year contract guaranteed $1.75 million and included $1.5 million in incentives — $50,000 each for 15, 20, 25 and 30 appearances; $100,000 each for 35, 40 and 50 appearances; $150,000 for 50 and 55 appearances; and $200,000 for 60 appearances; plus $100,000 each for 30, 60, 90, 120 and 150 days on the active roster.

He’s made two appearances so far and was placed on the DL April 11, 10 days after Opening Day.

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