June 2012

Brewers claim SS Gomez from Rockies

The Brewers have claimed shortstop Hector Gomez off waivers from the Rockies and optioned him to advanced Class A Brevard County, adding more depth to one of Milwaukee’s thinnest positions.

Gomez, 24, has been plagued by injuries in his career. He fractured his shin on a foul ball on Opening Day at advanced Class A Modesto in 2008, then subsequently injured his right shoulder and his elbow, requiring Tommy John reconstructive surgery. He recovered from those injuries to play in two Major League games with the Rockies last September, but his 2012 Spring Training bid for a spot on that team ended when Gomez suffered a groin injury.

He had only begun a rehab assignment with Modesto last week.

In 402 Minor League games since 2006., Gomez is a .268 hitter with a .306 on-base percentage.

To clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Gomez, the Brewers designated right-hander Brandon Kintzler for assignment. He reported to Spring Training a candidate for Milwaukee’s Opening Day bullpen, but was derailed by an elbow injury and has a 6.06 ERA in 13 appearances at Double-A Huntsville.

In other Minor League news, the Nashville Sounds announced that reliever Jim Henderson had been selected as a reserve for the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 11. The 29-year-old right-hander has a 1.93 ERA and six saves for the Sounds.

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Morgan tangles with fan on foul ball

Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan downplayed a brief tussle with a fan during the ninth inning of Wednesday’s badly-needed win over the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

Morgan chased a foul fly ball down the right field line in the ninth and tangled arms with a fan in the front row. Morgan pushed away, then had some words with the fan before umpire Marty Foster urged him to return to his position.

Here’s video of the play from the Brewers broadcast.

“It’s just one of those things where we were tangled up; I could have made a play on the ball,” Morgan said. “I just gave him a little, ‘Get off me,’ because he was all on my arm and everything.  Nothing major, but everybody might blow it up a little differently.”

Morgan said the fan had some choice words for him after the non-play, and Morgan responded. That brought other Reds fans in the same section of seats into the discussion.

Both Morgan and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said the fan did his job, disrupting an opponent from making a catch.

“That’s what the home fans are supposed to do, try to take the ball from the opposing team when the ball is in the stands,” Morgan said. “It’s fair game once the ball is in the stands.”

He added: “It was nothing major. … I’m a fan, too. I would have done the same thing.”

The interaction capped an interesting day for Morgan, whose misread of a fly ball in the third inning contributed to one of the two earned runs against Brewers starter Zack Greinke. In the seventh, Morgan couldn’t get to a low and away pitch on a suicide squeeze play, leaving Cody Ransom out between third base and home.

“I just couldn’t get to the ball because the ball was scraping the dirt,” Morgan said.

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Thornburg has ‘very minor’ wrist issue

Tyler Thornburg’s Triple-A debut is briefly on hold after the Nashville Sounds placed the right-handed pitching prospect on its disabled list Wednesday.

Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said Thornburg, who was originally scheduled to pitch Friday, has a sore right wrist. Ash characterized the issue as “very minor,” and said Thornburg would probably start Sunday or Monday instead.

The Sounds made the roster move because they needed a spot for recently-returned reliever Mike McClendon.

Thornburg was 8-1 with a 3.00 ERA at Double-A Huntsville before a spot start for the Brewers against the Blue Jays on June 19, when he was effective for five innings before surrendering back-to-back-to-back home runs in the sixth.

He was sent to Nashville after that one-start stint to continuing seasoning. Thornburg will be 24 in September.

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Bruised elbow sidelines Braun

It turns out this was not your run of the mill off-day for Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun. He said he couldn’t play after being plunked on the left elbow by a Bronson Arroyo pitch on Tuesday night.

“I can’t bend my arm,” Braun said. “Hopefully, it gets better. We’ll see. Luckily, tomorrow is an off-day.”

Had it been a game day, Braun said he doubts he would have been able to play.

Cleanup man Aramis Ramirez had a similar experience late last month, after he was struck by a wayward pitch at Arizona. Ramirez spoke out the next day about the high rate at which Brewers batters have been hit by pitches this season — a total that has since grown to a Major League-most 44 times entering Wednesday. Tampa Bay is a distant second, with 33 plunkings, and the Cubs are second in the National League, at 26.

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Brewers mum on Chapman’s acrobatics

In some perverse way, Bronson Arroyo might have done the Brewers a favor had he finished his no-hitter on Tuesday night. He could have spared the Brewers their ninth consecutive loss by one or two runs, and spared closer John Axford another maddening night on which one little mistake decided the game.

He also could have spared the Brewers the indignity of watching an opponent somersault his way off the mound after a game-ending strikeout.

Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, who tumbled not once but twice toward his catcher after sealing Cincinnati’s 4-3 win over the Brewers at Great American Ball Park, won no fans in either clubhouse with his dismount.

Check out the video at MLB.com.

“I didn’t see it,” Brewers right fielder Corey Hart said. “I don’t care.”

“I didn’t see that. He did a somersault after?” infielder Taylor Green said. “Yeah, that’s… I’ve never seen that, really. That’s tough.”

Reds manager Dusty Baker said he missed it, too.

“I talked to Bronson on the way in and he said, ‘You didn’t see that?’” Baker said. “I turned to the guys and said, ‘Way to go.’ The next thing I looked on the board and saw him rolling around. That’s something Bryan [Price, Cincinnati’s pitching coach] has addressed. I know [Chapman] was happy, especially after the bad week he had last week, but that’s something — we don’t play like that.”

A great point made by many of you on Twitter: The Brewers have been the kinds of postgame antics in recent seasons, from the untucking of jerseys to the famous “bomb” celebration in 2009 when the Giants took a tough loss in a pennant race. It hurts more when you’re on the wrong side of it, an unfamiliar feeling for the Brewers after the success they had last season.

Anyway, these Brewers have bigger issues.

Tuesday’s loss guaranteed that the Brewers would leave Cincinnati on Wednesday night further from first place than they arrived. At 33-41, they trail the National League Central-leading Reds by 8 1/2 games.

And closer John Axford can’t seem to shake his recent funk. He is 3-for-6 in save opportunities since June 12 with three losses (including Tuesday’s) — more blown saves and more losses than he suffered all of last season. He made a rare appearance Tuesday in the eighth inning of a tie game, manager Ron Roenicke said, because the Brewers determined earlier in the day that Axford needed the work. He had not pitched since saving a 1-0 win over the White Sox on Friday.

Axford never had a chance to settle in. Stubbs, one day removed from the disabled list, hit a first-pitch fastball over the center field fence.

“Everything else in that inning was great,” Axford said. “I’m almost at a loss for words now, it seems like. It’s just kind of exhausting. Even when I feel good and things seem to be clicking, one pitch, one play, one something happens that turns everything else around on me.”

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Marcum still sore after throwing session

Brewers right-hander Shaun Marcum cut short a throwing session Monday because of lingering discomfort in his right elbow, a development that could extend what was supposed to be only a brief stay on the 15-day disabled list.

The Brewers had hoped to have Marcum back on the mound either Saturday or Sunday against the D-backs, after two missed starts. But that plan is in doubt after Marcum played catch with head athletic trainer Dan Wright in the outfield grass at Great American Ball Park in his first activity since a June 14 start at Kansas City, when he felt tightness in his surgically-repaired elbow.

Marcum told a reporter he was “still sore.”

“I’m a little discouraged, too,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “We have to do it day-by-day. If everything goes well, we’ll try to come out and throw again [Tuesday], and keep doing it.”

Marcum said he’d undergone a series of tests after the start against the Royals, including an MRI scan, that showed no abnormalities. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008.

As long as Marcum is sidelined, the Brewers will continue to rely on rookie right-hander Mike Fiers, who has a 2.70 ERA in five starts and one relief appearance. He scattered five hits in 7 1/3 scoreless innings against the White Sox on Sunday.

“Anytime somebody comes out and pitches like that, it opens up some eyes,” Roenicke said.

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Marcum to DL; Ishikawa reinstated

This doesn’t come as a surprise based on comments from Brewers officials in recent days — they have placed right-hander Shaun Marcum on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 15, with a tight right elbow. The move was necessary to reinstate first baseman Travis Ishikawa from the DL.

I don’t think this is necessarily cause for great concern on Marcum. It just means he will miss at least one more start with an elbow issue that he says is unrelated to his 2008 Tommy John surgery. The Brewers have released little information about Marcum’s status, just as they did in Spring Training when Marcum had a shoulder issue. Stay tuned; we’ll have coverage at Brewers.com this afternoon.

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Hernandez, Izturis added to active roster

It’s a brave, new, social media-dominated world when a former Brewer breaks news about the newest Brewer via Twitter.

Bill Hall, the onetime Milwaukee utility man, spilled the beans Friday that veteran right-hander Livan Hernandez was set to sign with the Brewers in Chicago, where the team was ready to begin an Interleague Series against the White Sox. Hall ran into Hernandez at the airport.

Hernandez, a 37-year-old, 17-year Major League veteran, will join the Brewers’ bullpen.

The Brewers announced the deal on Friday afternoon, designating left-hander Juan Perez for assignment to clear roster space. Hernandez will wear uniform No. 61.

Also on Friday, the Brewers activated shortstop Cesar Izturis from the 15-day disabled list and optioned designated Edwin Maysonet for assignment from the 25-man roster. (I’ve never heard of that; looking into it). Izturis had been sidelined since late May with a hamstring strain.

Hernandez made 18 relief appearances for the Braves with a 4.94 ERA before that team released him June 15. He would be a similar bullpen fit for the Brewers, even though the team is down a couple of starting pitchers — left-hander Chris Narveson is out for the year following shoulder surgery and right-hander Shaun Marcum missed his last start with a tight elbow.

The Brewers have right-hander Marco Estrada set to come off the DL on Tuesday, and Marcum was planning to test his elbow Friday by playing catch. He was hopeful about taking his next turn in the rotation.

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Kjeldgaard to begin rehab stint tonight in Minors

The Brewers just shared the following roster moves in their Minor League chain:

INF Matt Cline has been released at Huntsville.

OF Miguel Velazquez has been released at Brevard County.

OF Michael Reed has been transferred from Brevard County to Helena. He will join the Brewers for Thursday night’s game at Great Falls.

OF John Dishon, RHP Seth Harvey, and INF Jason Rogers have been transferred from Wisconsin to Brevard County. All three players will be active for the Manatees tonight when they host Dunedin.

OF Lance Roenicke has been transferred from Helena to Wisconsin. LHP Michael Strong has been reinstated from the DL at Wisconsin. Both players will be active for the Timber Rattlers on Friday night when they begin the second half of the Midwest League season at Burlington.

OF Brock Kjeldgaard will begin a Minor League rehab assignment tonight for the Arizona Brewers when they host the Arizona Dodgers. Kjeldgaard is currently on the Huntsville DL. He will not count against the Brewers roster limit while on rehab.

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Gennett to play in All-Star Futures Game

Tyler Thornburg, the Brewers’ representative in last year’s All-Star Futures Game, said about the nicest thing you can say about this year’s pick.

“He just hits and hits and hits,” Thornburg said.

He is Scooter Gennett, the 5-foot-9 second base prospect who has mashed at every level since the Brewers made him a 16th Draft pick in 2009, and will get a chance to hit on a national stage July 9 at Kauffman Stadium.

The 22-year-old is Milwaukee’s only representative in 14th annual showcase of prospect talent, a U.S. vs. the World event on the Sunday before the All-Star Game that has included the likes of Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks (2004), Ryan Braun and Yovani Gallardo (2006) and Brett Lawrie (2010).

Gennett will be part of the U.S. roster.

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