November 2011

Brewers announce spring slate

Hot off the presses. Note the two games at Chase Field against the D-backs:

The Milwaukee Brewers today announced the Club’s 2012 Spring Training schedule that will open on Sunday, March 4 at Maryvale Baseball Park against San Francisco at 1:05 p.m. The Brewers will play a total of 34 Spring Training games this season including 16 at Maryvale Baseball Park.

The Brewers will play games at Maryvale against their NL Central Rivals Cincinnati on Thursday, March 8 and Thursday March 29 and against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday, March 10. The Brewers will also celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a game against Los Angeles of Anaheim in Tempe.

The team has four split squad games scheduled during the spring. The slate includes Saturday, March 10 vs. the Cubs at Maryvale and at the Giants in Scottsdale; Tuesday, March 13 vs. the Mariners at Maryvale and at the A’s in Phoenix; Sunday, March 25 vs. the Dodgers at Maryvale and at the Royals in Surprise; Tuesday, April 2 at the Cubs in Mesa in the afternoon and against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field at 6:40 p.m. (Arizona Time). The Brewers will again play the Diamondbacks at Chase Field to close out the 2012 Spring Training schedule on Wednesday, April 4 at 12:40 p.m.

The final home game at Maryvale Baseball Park for the Brewers is set for Sunday, April 1 against San Francisco.

All games at Maryvale Baseball Park are scheduled for 1:05 pm Arizona Time. All road Spring Training games are also scheduled for 1:05 pm, except for the game on Monday, April 2 at Chicago-AL in Glendale (12:05 p.m.), the two games on Tuesday, April 3rd (12:00 p.m. and 6:40 p.m.) and the final game on Wednesday April 4 at Arizona (12:40 p.m.).

Tickets for the Milwaukee Brewers home Spring Training games will go on sale at 10 am CT on Monday, December 5 via the internet at brewers.com and by phone at 1-800-933-7890. Normal business hours are from 9am – 5pm CST. Sales at the Maryvale Baseball Park Box Office will begin on Monday, February 6, 2012. Tickets are available in four seating areas: Field Box ($22), Infield Reserved ($16), Outfield Reserved ($13) and Lawn Seating ($8). Information on Spring Training Season Tickets can be obtained by calling the Milwaukee Brewers Ticket Office at 414-902-4000.

The full schedule will be up on Brewers.com soon.

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Brewers coaches to return in ’12

Barring a move by hitting coach Dale Sveum, who remains a candidate for the Cubs’ and Red Sox’s managerial vacancies, the Brewers’ coaching staff will return intact for 2012, general manager Doug Melvin said Tuesday.

Melvin said he asked all of the coaches back during the final week of September, when the Brewers were still putting the finishing touches on a franchise-record 96-win regular season. They have been under 2012 contracts since Nov. 1.

He declined to say whether any of the coaches, besides Sveum, were already under contract beyond 2011. Sveum signed a two-year deal in October 2010, but most Major League coaches work on year-to-year contracts.

The rest of manager Ron Roenicke’s field staff includes bench coach Jerry Narron, pitching coach Rick Kranitz, bullpen coach Stan Kyles, third base coach Ed Sedar, first base coach Garth Iorg and outfield instructor/“eye in the sky” John Shelby.

(Update: Longtime Brewers bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel also serves season-to-season at the discretion of the GM and manager, and has been asked back for 2012.)

Sveum, twice passed over for managerial openings in Milwaukee, interviewed last week in Boston and on Monday in Chicago for those vacancies. He has ties to both organizations; Sveum was the Red Sox third base coach from 2004-05 under then-GM Theo Epstein, who last month took over as president of the Cubs.

Melvin said he called Epstein’s replacement in Boston, Ben Cherington, to offer a favorable review of Sveum.

Prince Fielder? We'll see. But third base coach Ed Sedar will be back in 2012. (AP Photo/David Kohl)

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Former ‘teammates’ Sveum, Maddux make Cubs pitch

Dale Sveum and Mike Maddux, together for three seasons on the Brewers’ coaching staff, are each making a case this week to manage the Chicago Cubs. Sveum interviewed with the Cubs’ new president, Theo Epstein, and GM Jed Hoyer on Monday. Maddux will take his turn on Wednesday.

“He’s a lot like me as far as due diligent work that he does every day,” Sveum said of Maddux, according to MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. “He’s one of the hardest working coaches, if not the hardest working coach, in baseball, and that’s why he’s put himself in this position to get one of these jobs.

“It’s just nice to be mentioned with a Mike Maddux, because he’s a good friend of mine and he’ll make a good manager someday, if not this year,” Sveum said.

Maddux served six seasons as the Brewers’ pitching coach but left after the 2008 season for a higher salary with the Rangers. Sveum has been on the Brewers’ staff since 2006 in a variety of roles and is currently the team’s hitting coach.

Sveum also interviewed last week for the Red Sox’s managerial vacancy. He’s considered a serious candidate for both the Red Sox and Cubs.

“They’re the two most prestigious jobs in baseball, if not sports,” Sveum said. “When you’re dealing with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, it’s two of the same. They both rank right up there. I’m honored to be just considered for both of them at the same time in the same season for both jobs to become available and you’re part of both interviews for both clubs. I’m honored that both sides kept me in mind and are giving me the opportunity to at least interview and hopefully get back for another interview.”

He was also asked about his relationship with free agent slugger Prince Fielder and what a new team could expect. The Cubs are one of the teams for which Fielder could be a good fit.

“Wherever he signs, they’re getting one heck of a guy,” Sveum said. “He’s one of my favorite people I’ve ever coached and the way he competes and plays the game as hard as he does every night, you wish you had 25 Prince Fielders playing as hard as he does every night.

“The leadership he brings by the way he plays is unmatched by anybody in baseball by what I see now. I don’t think I see anybody day in and day out play as hard as Prince Fielder. Whoever gets him gets one heck of a guy and one heck of a player.”

Click over to Cubs.com to read the rest of Carrie’s excellent coverage of Chicago’s search.

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Sveum to interview in Chicago on Monday

MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat is reporting this afternoon that the Cubs will interview Dale Sveum for their managerial vacancy on Monday, having received permission from the Brewers to talk to the highly regarded hitting coach.

Sveum, who has twice been passed over for the top Brewers job since serving as interim manager at the end of the 2008 season, is halfway through the two-year contract he signed in October 2010. He has been on the Brewers’ staff since 2006 under three different full-time managers.

Sveum also interviewed with the Red Sox this week for their managerial opening.

He is very well-liked by players and has served a number of roles in the past decade; as the manager at Double-A Altoona in the Pirates’ chain from 2001-03, then as third base coach in Boston from 2004-05 before returning to Milwaukee, where his Major League playing career began. Sveum has served as the Brewers’ third base coach, bench coach and hitting coach, and has been clear along the way that he aspires to manage in the Major Leagues. Some players pushed for Sveum to get the full-time job after the 2008 season, but the Brewers coveted experience and went with Ken Macha instead.

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Early bird offer for Fantasy Camp

News from the Brewers:

The Milwaukee Brewers will host their annual Fantasy Camp from January 29 – February 5, 2012 in Phoenix at Maryvale Baseball Park, the Spring Training home of the Milwaukee Brewers. Brewers Fantasy camp allows fans to live out their dreams of playing in the Big Leagues and work, play and live like a Major Leaguer.

Registration for Brewers Fantasy Camp is open now and includes round trip coach airfare from Milwaukee to Phoenix along with hotel accommodations (double occupancy). Participants also will receive a personalized, authentic Brewers uniform and batting practice top.

Campers will participate in daily baseball drills under the instruction of a number of Brewers legends including Jim Gantner, Gorman Thomas, Greg Vaughn, Dale Sveum, Jerry Augustine and Ed Sedar. In addition, two games will be played each day at Maryvale Baseball Park. A daily newsletter will be handed out with player stats and other information and a nightly happy hour and Q&A session with the coaches will conclude each day.

Also included in the package is a daily hot breakfast at the hotel, catered lunch each afternoon in the clubhouse, care from a professional clubhouse staff and athletic trainers, a professional massage therapist and a farewell awards banquet. Participants will also be introduced prior to a Brewers 2012 home game and will be invited to play a game at Miller Park during the summer of 2012.

Packages are $3,999 for each player and camp is open to men and women over 30. Fans can register online at brewers.com/fantasycamp or call 262-679-3612 for more information. The first ten registrants who sign up between now and December 15 will receive a VIP baseball package that will include four Loge Level tickets, a visit to the field during batting practice and the opportunity to watch Bill Schroeder and Brian Anderson broadcast an inning of a Brewers game in the FS Wisconsin broadcast booth, good for a mutually agreed upon game, not including Opening Day.

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Brewers have open mind in search for radio voice

The Brewers’ search for Cory Provus’ replacement was already underway Thursday afternoon when the 33-year-old was introduced in Minneapolis as the new lead radio voice of the Twins.

The move represents a promotion for Provus, who will pair with former Twins outfielder Dan Gladden beginning in Spring Training. The Brewers, meanwhile, need a new partner for Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker and expect upwards of 100 qualified candidates to garner serious consideration.

Vice President of Communications Tyler Barnes will work with the Brewers’ flagship station, Milwaukee’s WTMJ-AM, to select a replacement for Provus. He had been calling games alongside Uecker for the past three seasons.

“The job in Milwaukee was great, but to come to a team and a town like this where there hasn’t been much turnover is what makes this opportunity even more attractive,” Provus said, a nod to the man he’s replacing in Minneapolis. John Gordon recently retired after 25 years calling Twins games.

Barnes said the Brewers and WTMJ will spend the “next few weeks” sifting through resumes and broadcast recordings, and are open to hiring a candidate without Major League experience.

Barnes could not yet say whether the new hire would be an employee of WTMJ — as was Provus and his predecessor, Jim Powell, who left for the Braves in December 2008 — or an employee of the Brewers. Uecker and television broadcasters Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder are Brewers employees.

“The community of play-by-play people is pretty tight, and we were already getting inquires at the start of this week when Cory’s name surfaced as a finalist in Minneapolis,” Barnes said. “There is no shortage of good talent out there. … We certainly did not want to see Cory go because he’s a fantastic talent and an even better person, but the silver lining of this is that the Twins did a phenomenal job of moving the process along very quickly. It gives us the luxury of time to do a thorough review process.”

Uecker will be involved at some point in that review, as he was three years ago before Provus got the job. Uecker, 77 in January, has already said he will be back in the booth in 2012.

Barnes said the club intends to keep the process secret, and would not comment on potential candidates. He said that more than one of the candidates involved in the club’s 2008-09 search had already applied again.

“We’re going to move it along at a pretty good pace because we know that whoever we bring in here is likely going to be creating a hole somewhere,” Barnes said.

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Brewers mum on Provus report

A Brewers spokesperson could not confirm this morning that the Twins had hired away radio broadcaster Cory Provus, saying only that the Brewers understood the Twins would make an announcement today. Provus, 33, had spent the past three seasons as Bob Uecker’s partner in the broadcast booth.

This would be a promotion for Provus because he would replace longtime Twins radio voice John Gordon, who retired. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, which reported the hire, said Provus would be introduced on the Twins’ flagship station at 2 p.m. CT.

The Brewers will have to again open a search for a new partner for Uecker, just like they did three years ago after Jim Powell left for a higher-profile job with the Braves. More to come later today…

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Sneak peek at the Brewers’ new Dominican academy

Brewers photo

As of this afternoon, the Brewers’ new academy in the Dominican Republic will be officially open for business.

Club officials including general manager Doug Melvin have spent the week inspecting the complex in Ramon Santana, a municipality just northeast of San Pedro de Macoris along the Dominican Rebublic’s southern shore. It is owned by former Brewers reliever Salomon Torres, who runs three such facilities and will oversee day-to-day operations under the auspices of his Towers Corp.

The Brewers have not announced the terms of their lease, calling it only a “long-term partnership.” They previously played at a less modern facility near Santo Domingo.

The new complex, built in 2006, represents an upgrade. It has two baseball fields, batting cages, bullpens, a clubhouse and weight room, plus 13 rooms of housing, classrooms and a cafeteria. The Brewers will move next season to the San Pedro de Macoris division of the rookie-level Dominican Summer League, joining affiliates of the Angels, Braves, Blue Jays and Tigers.

Torres also operates the Braves and Tigers facilities. He pitched his third facility, previously occupied by the Rangers, to Brewers officials at last year’s Winter Meetings in Orlando. Former Reds GM Dan O’Brien, one of Melvin’s special assistants, was the Brewers’ point man on the move.

“This new academy will provide the Brewers with all the necessary ingredients to allow their Latin players to take their baseball skills to a new level, putting them in a position to become a big league player some day,” Torres said in a statement provided by the Brewers. “From the meals to the fields, we take care of everything in between so the Brewers scouts and personnel can concentrate on their most important task, which is the development of these players.”

The move represents another step for the Brewers in re-establishing a base in Latin America. For more on that, and some additional photos, check Brewers.com later this morning.

Brewers photo

Brewers photo

Brewers photo

Brewers photo

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Braun: Voters got it right with Fielder

Ryan Braun was certainly happy to win the Silver Slugger Award for the fourth consecutive season, but he was just as happy to have some company. Prince Fielder, the Brewers free agent first baseman, also won the award for the second time.

“If you look at his numbers, you can make the argument that he could have won a Silver Slugger every year if not for the fact that [NL first baseman] is probably the most stacked position to win it in either league,” Braun said. “His competition is pretty crazy when you look at Albert, [Joey] Votto. They got that vote right.”

Fielder had to unseat the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols, who had won at first base in each of the past three seasons. Fielder had the edge over Pujols in home runs (38 to 37), RBIs (120 to 99), OPS (.981 to .906) and total bases (322 to 313).

Fielder finished second in the NL in homers, RBIs, walks (107) and on-base percentage (.415). He also was the only player in the Majors to start all 162 games.

Braun, meanwhile, led the NL with a .994 OPS and .597 slugging percentage, and finished second with a .332 batting average, 336 total bases and 109 runs scored. He ranked fourth with 111 RBIs and tied for sixth with 33 home runs. He’s the first NL outfielder to win the award four years running since Barry Bonds took five in a row from 2000-04, five of Bonds’ 12 career Silver Slugger Awards.

“The biggest challenge as a baseball player is consistency and longevity,” Braun said Wednesday night. “The only way to win this award four years in a row is to be pretty consistent. That’s the biggest thing that we all strive for, so it’s definitely pretty special.”

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Braun, Fielder win Silver Slugger Awards

Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder went together like beer and bratwurst over the past five seasons with the Brewers, and they were linked again Wednesday, perhaps for one last time. Both players were named Silver Sluggers in the National League.

The award, presented annually by the Louisville Slugger bat company, goes to the top hitters in each league at each position. Both Braun and Fielder have won before. Braun has been a Silver Slugger for four straight seasons, and Fielder, a free agent as of this week, also won in 2007.

It’s the second straight season and the fourth time since the Silver Slugger Award debuted in 1980 that the Brewers have multiple winners. First baseman Cecil Cooper, shortstop Robin Yount and outfielder Ben Oglivie won in the award’s inaugural season; Cooper and Yount won again in 1982 and Braun and pitcher Yovani Gallardo won in 2010.

Now it’s Braun and Fielder, two home-grown sluggers who should also rank high in NL MVP balloting when results are announced Tuesday, Nov. 22.

Braun led the NL with a .994 OPS and finished second with a .332 batting average, 336 total bases and 109 runs scored. He ranked fourth with 111 RBIs and tied for sixth with 33 home runs. He’s the first NL outfielder to win the award four years running since Barry Bonds took five in a row from 2000-04, five of Bonds’ 12 career Silver Slugger Awards.

The other Silver Slugger outfielders were Matt Kemp of the Dodgers and Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks. Both are considered leading contenders with Braun for the NL MVP honor. Kemp has already won the Hank Aaron Award as the NL’s most outstanding offensive player.

To win his second career Silver Slugger Award, Fielder had to unseat the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols, who had won at first base in each of the past three seasons. Fielder had the edge over Pujols in all of the major categories, including home runs (38 to 37), RBIs (120 to 99), OPS (.981 to .906) and total bases (322 to 313).

Fielder finished second in the NL in homers, RBIs, walks (107) and on-base percentage (.415). He also was the only player in the Majors to start all 162 games.

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