July 2011

Marcum says he’ll stay on schedule

Brewers starter Shaun Marcum said he felt immediate relief from a strained neck Monday after visiting a Phoenix-area chiropractor, and was planning to make his next start on schedule.

Marcum was hurt in the fifth inning of Sunday’s win at Colorado, when he slid to the third-base side of the pitcher’s mound to field a bunt. Marcum made a tumbling throw to first base for the inning-ending out, then returned for the bottom of the sixth inning before making an early exit.

Marcum will test his neck in a bullpen session Tuesday and is scheduled to start Friday in San Francisco.

“We had an adjustment, and should be good to go now,” Marcum said. “As soon as he did it, it was like, holy [cow], that felt good.”

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Braun sits as Brewers’ trip rolls on

Ryan Braun is not in the Brewers’ lineup for Monday’s series opener in Arizona, marking the 10th time in the team’s last 13 games that the All-Star left fielder begins the night on the bench. He had a flare-up on Saturday at Colorado of the left hamstring and calf tightness that cost Braun eight starts before the All-Star break.

Braun did pinch-hit on Sunday in Colorado, which leads me to believe that the Brewers are not worried about this injury requiring a DL stint. We will ask Ron Roenicke tonight whether that is indeed the thinking.

Here’s the lineup:

Corey Hart RF
Nyjer Morgan CF
Mark Kotsay LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Rickie Weeks 2B
George Kottaras C
Casey McGehee 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Randy Wolf LHP

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Melvin hints no ‘top’ prospects in K-Rod deal

Brewers GM Doug Melvin discussed the Francisco Rodriguez trade this morning on MLB Network Radio channel on SiriusXM, and seemed to indicate to hosts Jim Memolo and Mel Antonen that the Brewers would not have to part with any of their top, top prospects in the deal.

The Mets will choose from a list of five Brewers Minor Leagues to complete the trade. Melvin told me last night that the picks will be made in September.

Here’s a portion of this morning’s radio transcript:

Memolo: “How would you classify the players on that list? Is this a major deal for you? Is this more about the money for the Mets? If you could kind of characterize it in some way?”

Melvin: “Well, I think it is evident that the Mets felt, I can’t speak on their behalf, but I think they felt that, a lot of people speculated that K-Rod would be moved in that regard. So from our standpoint, we engaged in conversation with them and I saw that the opportunity was to go in there and try to get him. We’ll find out about the players. I believe any player that puts a Minor League uniform on has a chance to play in the big leagues. The level they play at is determined by the players. As far as our top top guys, it’s not going to happen but they’re players that could play in the big leagues.”

So, there’s a bit of a hint about what caliber of prospects we’re talking. I don’t know any of the five names on the list, and it’s safe to say the Brewers will do their best to make sure the names do not come out. You don’t want your prospects, “top” or not, to know they are being dangled in a trade.

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Fielder appreciates K-Rod trade

Here’s what All-Star Game MVP Prince Fielder had to say about the Brewers’ surprising Tuesday night trade for Francisco Rodriguez:

“As a player, you appreciate it, because you’re going out there every day and you’re wanting to win,” said Fielder, whose three-run home run was the difference in the National League’s All-Star Game victory. “When management does things like that, you appreciate it, because you see that they’re going for it with you every day, too.”

Rodriguez will join the NL Central co-leading Brewers on Thursday in Colorado for the start of the second half. He will have to fit into a new uniform and perhaps a different role, because the Brewers already have a successful closer in John Axford who does not come with the same high price tag as Rodriguez. Axford, 28 and in his second season as Milwaukee’s closer, has converted 23 of 25 chances this season including his last 20 in a row.

Rodriguez, 29, holds the single-season saves record (62 for the Angels in 2008) and was 23-for-26 for the Mets with a 3.16 ERA in the first half of 2011. He has 291 career saves to Axford’s 48.

Rodriguez’s current contract includes a $17.5 million option for 2012 that vests if the right-hander finishes 55 games, and he’s already finished 34 games this year for the Mets. If he falls short of that total, the Brewers can buy-out the option for $3.5 million.

It was not immediately clear how much cash was involved in Tuesday’s trade. It was a significant enough amount that the Commissioner’s Office signed off on the deal, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said.

The Mets will choose their players to be named from a list of five Brewers Minor Leaguers by a date in September.

Rodriguez, who is earning $11.5 million this season in the final guaranteed year of a three-year, $37 million contract, had a limited no-trade clause. But the list of teams to which he could block a trade did not include the Brewers.

“The way we view it is an opportunity to get a quality guy in the back end of the bullpen,” Melvin said. “I would have been kicking myself if I had walked away from him and a couple of weeks from now, one of our bullpen guys broke down. It was an opportunity to acquire a guy of quality.

“Offense is down in baseball this year and there seems to be a lot of one-run ballgames. To win those games, you have to have strong pitching in the bullpen.”

Pressed on the uncertain closer situation, Melvin said only that, “games will dictate that. Ron [Roenicke, Milwaukee’s manager] will dictate that. I talked to John Axford, talked to Frankie, and said it’s about the team winning. All I know is that both guys are very capable of closing ballgames.”

Axford was not available to comment on the deal Tuesday night.

“I told John, ‘Don’t worry about it,’” Melvin said.

Said Fielder of the closer conundrum: “You can never have too many guys, I don’t think. No discredit to Axford at all, it’s just to get [Rodriguez], too is great. It’s extra.”

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Brewers acquire K-Rod from Mets

Prince Fielder had barely hoisted his All-Star Game MVP trophy when the Brewers and Mets reminded the baseball world that it’s time to get back to business.

Milwaukee traded late Tuesday for New York closer Francisco Rodriguez and cash, sending two players to be named later to the Mets. It’s another surprise move by Brewers general manager Doug Melvin to bring the team’s pitching up to the level of Fielder and its potent offense.

It was not immediately clear how much cash was involved in the deal for Rodriguez, whose current contract includes a $17.5 million option for 2012 that vests if the right-hander finishes 55 games. He’s finished 34 games so far this year.

Rodriguez was in the news during All-Star festivities when it came to light that he had switched to agent Scott Boras, who also happens to count free-agent-to-be Fielder among his clients.

For the Mets, Rodriguez has a 3.16 ERA and 23 saves in 42 games. The Brewers already have a successful closer in John Axford, who is 23-for-25 in save chances this season.

 

Gindl hits for cycle in Albuquerque

Gotta love Caleb Gindl’s honesty. He needed a single for the cycle on Sunday night, and said, “there was no way I was going to walk.” Gindl got his hit, and completed Nashville’s first cycle in seven years — and third in its 33-year history — with a two-out single to center field in the Sounds’ 9-5 road win over the Albuquerque Isotopes.

Playing right field and batting seventh spot, Gindl became the first member of the Sounds to accomplish the feat since J.R. House on May 21, 2004 against Sacramento. Tike Redman hit for the first cycle in Nashville history on June 30, 2001.

Gindl also totaled 10 bases the hard way — against four different pitchers.

“I was seeing the ball well,” he deadpanned. “I knew I probably wouldn’t see one of the guys twice.”

Check out the full story on MiLB.com.

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Brewers test new tickets policy

Interesting news from the Brewers this morning about a new system of ticketing. Looks like there are some deals to be had… I randomly checked the Aug. 31 game and it appears loge outfield and loge bleacher seats are both $10 cheaper. For the bleacher seats, that’s 50 percent off.

Here are the details from the club:

 In an effort to provide the best ticket value for fans, the Brewers are partnering with Qcue to test a demand-based pricing system for select games.  Demand-based pricing helps teams more accurately price tickets for individual games and provide fans with more price options.

By utilizing advanced computer pricing software linked to the ticketing system, the Brewers will have the ability to adjust ticket prices in real time based on ticket purchasing demand and changing factors such as team performance, pitching matchups and the weather.

“Demand-based pricing not only give us greater day-to-day ticket pricing flexibility, but also broadens the ticket-buying fan base,” said Brewers Chief Operating Officer, Rick Schlesinger.  “It rewards fans for buying earlier in the season and protects season seat holder value. We believe this structure will help us reach more fans with attractive pricing options for seats that currently go unsold.”

The test games include Wednesday, August 31 vs. St. Louis (7:10 p.m.); Saturday, September 10 vs. Philadelphia (6:10 p.m.); and Monday, September 26 vs. Pittsburgh (7:10 p.m.).  Sections for the test include only the loge bleachers and loge outfield sections.  Pricing for seats in those locations for the three games is subject to change and fans should be reminded that the best deals will most likely be found early as the price will never be lower than the initial offering.

Fans can visit brewers.com, select the “Tickets” tab and then click on the Demand-Based pricing link to purchase tickets.  The demand-based tickets for the select games are now on sale.

Other Major League teams such as the St. Louis Cardinals, Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox have implemented different versions of demand-based pricing. Qcue has worked with numerous MLB, NBA and NHL teams on demand-based pricing.

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Braun pulls out of All-Star Game

Ryan Braun will still attend the 82nd All-Star Game, but a lingering left leg injury will cost him a chance to play.

Braun pulled out of the event on Saturday after missing a seventh consecutive game with a sore calf and quadriceps. The injury will deny Braun his fourth consecutive fan-elected All-Star start, and a chance to man left field at Chase Field in Phoenix as the National League’s leading vote-getter.

Instead, Braun will attend a fan of two Brewers teammates. First baseman Prince Fielder and second baseman Rickie Weeks are in the State Farm Home Run Derby on Monday night and the NL’s starting lineup on Tuesday.

Braun joins a list of stars who have had to pull out because of various degrees of injuries. Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino and Yankees infielders Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez had already been replaced on the rosters.

“It’s unfortunate for baseball,” Braun said. “Obviously, you want all of those guys to be there and be part of it, but injuries are also part of the game and unavoidable.

“I’ll be there for sure. The fans voted me in and the least I can do is be there.”

Braun’s decision was made official during Saturday’s Brewers-Reds game after he conferred with Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin, manager Ron Roenicke and head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger. Braun has not played since July 2, when he was hurt breaking out of the batter’s box in Minnesota.

An MRI scan Wednesday showed inflammation of a tendon behind Braun’s left knee and explained why he was feeling discomfort in both his hamstring and calf.

“While he’s making progress, it didn’t feel comfortable to the point of being about to going out there and giving 100 percent,” Melvin said. “It’s a little bit risky.”

That risk is magnified, Melvin said, because All-Star starters are required to play at least three innings.

“The concern was not so much going out there and swinging the bat as being in the field,” Melvin said. “We all just felt that the best thing is to make sure he doesn’t aggravate it and he’s ready for the second half.”

Braun is not expected to start Sunday’s first-half finale against the Reds, and will confer again with club officials before the Brewers resume play Thursday in Colorado to decide whether he needs to go to the 15-day disabled list. Brewers assistant athletic trainer Dan Wright is part of the NL’s medical staff and will oversee Braun’s treatment during the break.

By holding him out of the All-Star Game, the Brewers reserve the right to backdate a DL stint to July 3, meaning Braun would be eligible July 18.

The Brewers had been saying all along that Braun was day-to-day, but it turns out that was a stretch. He said Saturday that he “knew I wasn’t going to play today a week ago.”

“We’ve kind of had a timeline, a progression,” Braun said. “Once you’re out for a little while, it’s a progression you have to go through. I hadn’t swung or done anything for a while, so I had to hit off the tee. Then soft toss. Then play catch.

“Now, today is the first day I’m going to be allowed to take batting practice, take some fly balls and attempt to jog for the first time in five days. I’ve kind of known all along that it was going to be a process.”

Braun said he didn’t want to give Brewers opponents — the D-backs and Reds — a competitive advantage by coming clean about his unavailability.

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More progress for Braun, but still no start

Ryan Braun’s All-Star Game availability was down to the wire Saturday after he missed a seventh consecutive Brewers start with his left leg injury. Braun insisted it was all part of the plan.

“I knew I wasn’t going to play today a week ago,” Braun said. “We’ve kind of had a timeline, a progression. Once you’re out for a little while, it’s a progression you have to go through. I hadn’t swung or done anything for a while, so I had to hit off the tee. Then soft toss. Then play catch.

“Now, today is the first day I’m going to be allowed to take batting practice, take some fly balls and attempt to jog for the first time in five days. I’ve kind of known all along that it was going to be a process.”

Publicly, Braun and the Brewers had been saying he was day-to-day. Braun said he didn’t want to give Brewers opponents — the D-backs and Reds — a competitive advantage by coming clean  about his unavailability.

Braun ran the bases and took batting practice Saturday afternoon before meeting with manager Ron Roenicke, general manager Doug Melvin and members of the Brewers’ medical staff. They discussed whether he could start Sunday against the Reds, and whether he would be available to start for the National League in Tuesday’s All-Star Game. Braun was the league’s leading vote-getter, and is in line to make his fourth consecutive All-Star start.

“My goal is still to play [Sunday],” he said. “But it depends on how today goes.”

Braun is planning to travel to Phoenix for the All-Star Game regardless of whether he plays. Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder and second baseman Rickie Weeks are also among the NL starters.

If he cannot play, Braun would join a list of stars who have had to pull out because of injuries. Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino and Yankees infielders Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have already been replaced on the roster.

“It’s unfortunate for baseball,” Braun said. “Obviously, you want all of those guys to be there and be part of it, but injuries are also part of the game and unavoidable. I’ll be there for sure. The fans voted me in and the least I can do is be there.”

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No Reds, no All-Star Game for Braun? Not so fast

The Ryan Braun watch reached Day 5 on Thursday, when the Brewers’ left fielder missed his fifth consecutive start with a left leg injury and offered few clues about his availability for this weekend’s series against the Reds and next week’s All-Star Game.

Braun is in line to make his fourth consecutive All-Star start, and maintains that he would skip the event unless he can get on the field for the Brewers first.

But manager Ron Roenicke said he would be surprised if the injury lingers that long. Roenicke would actually encourage Braun to play in the All-Star Game if he’s 100 percent healthy, even if that is his first game back.

“It is a tough thing and we talked about it earlier,” Roenicke said. “If he cannot go here and he’s trying to force it to the All-Star Game, yeah, I would not want him to do it. But if he’s 100 percent healthy, maybe that’s a good game to play. If he doesn’t play in it, and he comes back on Thursday [when the Brewers resume play in Colorado], we’re talking about 11 days without him playing a game. [Bench coach] Jerry Narron mentioned that to me yesterday. If he’s 100 percent healthy, maybe it’s a good idea to have him play in that game. At least he gets a couple of at-bats and he’s out there in the field, and now the length of time is not so great.”

Roenicke stressed that the key phrase was “100 percent healthy.”

Braun said was “headed in the right direction.” He understands the significance of becoming the first National League outfielder to start four consecutive All-Star Games since Barry Bonds started five in a row from 2000-05.

“I don’t want to be stupid about it,” Braun said. “The last thing I want to do is rush back and have a setback where it’s something that keeps me out for a prolonged period of time, or something that’s going to nag and be there for the whole second half.

“The goal is to play, but I’m not going to be stupid, I’m not going to force it and I don’t think [Brewers athletic trainers] will allow me to force it.”

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