June 2012

Thornburg optioned to Nashville

It turns out that Milwaukee was only a pitstop on Tyler Thornburg’s road from Double-A Huntsville to Triple-A Nashvile.

A day after Thornburg’s big league debut, the Brewers optioned their 23-year-old pitching prospect to Nashville, where he was already headed before a two-day stop at Miller Park for a spot start against the Blue Jays. Thornburg pitched 5 1/3 innings for a no-decision, an experience he believes will make him better in the future.

“I would much rather this happened than not happened,” Thornburg said. “Now I can go back to Triple-A and work on some things that I need to do here.”

He was asked the biggest difference between Double-A and the big leagues.

“The best hitters in the Minor Leagues are those three- and four guys — it’s one through nine here,” he said. “So you really have to bear down on every pitch of every batter.”

A Brewers spokesperson said the team would make a corresponding move on Thursday’s day off, and manager Ron Roenicke indicated it would be for a bullpen arm.

That means the Brewers will have to make another series of moves if, as planned, they activate shortstop Cesar Izturis from the disabled list on Friday, and first baseman Travis Ishikawa on Saturday.

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Braun falls out of All-Star starting lineup

Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun slipped out of the starting lineup in the latest round of All-Star Game balloting results revealed Tuesday.

Braun had been running third in each of the previous two weekly updates, but slipped to fourth in the latest figures. The Dodgers’ Matt Kemp continued to lead National League outfielders — and all NL players — with more than 3.3 million votes, followed by the Cardinals’ Carlos Beltran and the Giants’ Melky Cabrera.

Cabrera has 2,144,107 votes, just ahead of Braun’s 2,118,925 — a difference of only 25,812 votes.

The Dodgers’ Andre Ethier remained in fifth place among NL outfielders, with 1.5 million votes.

At other positions, Rickie Weeks was running fifth among NL second basemen, and catcher Jonathan Lucroy was fifth among catchers. At least one Brewers player has been elected to start every All-Star Game since Prince Fielder made his first start at first base in 2007, including three elected starters last season.

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites — online or via your mobile device — using the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot until Thursday, June 28, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

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It’s official: Thornburg to start tonight

Brewers fans will get to see a face of the future take the mound at Miller Park on Tuesday night. The team has purchased right-hander Tyler Thornburg’s contract from Double-A Huntsville, and announced he will start against the Blue Jays.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Brewers designated infielder Brooks Conrad for assignment.

Much more to come from Miller Park tonight.

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Thornburg getting the call?

The Brewers were unusually mum about their plans for Tuesday night, when Shaun Marcum was supposed to start against the Blue Jays before a tight elbow put him on the shelf. Instead, the team will promote a starter from the Minor Leagues, manager Ron Roenicke said.

And that’s all he said.

Cue the speculation about a promotion for Double-A Huntsville right-hander Tyler Thornburg, who is 8-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 13 starts for the Stars this season and is supposed to pitch in the Southern League All-Star Game on Tuesday night before a promotion to Triple-A Nashville. Might he pitch in Milwaukee instead?

There’s a chance.

“We’ll have somebody here, we’ll make a move [Tuesday]to be able to do that,” said manager Ron Roenicke, who indicated he might not make the announcement official until the team takes the field for batting practice.

He’s already informed the Blue Jays that someone is coming up, and gave some details without giving a name.

“I told [manager John Farrell] basically about him, whether he’s right-handed, left-handed,” Roenicke said. “Just to give him a heads up.”

Roenicke said he couldn’t reveal the name because the Brewers must make a corresponding roster move. If it’s Thornburg, they’ll have to get him onto both the 40-man and 25-man rosters.

The team’s other option was to cobble together innings with relievers. But coming off a road trip that included a pair of extra-inning games, including a 15-inning loss to the Twins on Sunday, and with at least one reliever (Jose Veras) dealing with a nagging injury, that option was deemed too risky.

“If we do that [Tuesday], we’re going to be short Wednesday,” Roenicke said. “This [the Blue Jays] is a very good offensive team, and I would hate to be short in our bullpen trying to get through one game.”

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Replay gives Ramirez his ninth homer

Upon further review, give Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez his eighth home run this season.

Ramirez’s seventh-inning line drive to left field was initially called foul, a ruling reversed after crew chief Kerwin Danley and the rest of the umpires employed replay review for the first time this season at Miller Park and the third seventh time ever.

That replay showed the baseball barely catch the outside edge of the yellow line painted on a pad below the foul pole. That’s good enough for a fair ball, and after only a few moments out of sight, plate umpire Doug Eddings emerged with an index finger twirling over his head: Home run.

The homer gave the Brewers a 7-6 lead over the Blue Jays.

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Marcum has elbow issue; won’t pitch Tuesday

The Brewers’ Shaun Marcum will miss Tuesday’s scheduled start against his former team because of tightness in his right elbow. The Brewers will either call up a pitcher from Triple-A to start against the Blue Jays or cobble together innings with relievers, manager Ron Roenicke said.

Dr. William Raasch was to examine Marcum’s elbow before Monday’s Interleague Series opener against Toronto. Marcum underwent Tommy John surgery on the same elbow in 2008.

“[Marcum] went to throw his bullpen the other day, and it was still tight,” Roenicke said.

Roenicke was holding out hope that Marcum will miss only one start.

“Sometimes a pitcher says they feel something, and then they go and throw their bullpen and it’s gone,” Roenicke said. “Then other times they say, ‘I don’t think it’s much,’ and then it is something. It’s really hard to tell. … It’s really disappointing because, for quite a few starts, he has pitched great. So it really is disappoiitning.

“I’m hoping it’s just a start. I know, two years ago, he missed a start in the middle of the season with Toronto. Hopefully, that’s what we’re talking about.”

Marcum is 5-3 with a 3.39 ERA in 13 starts, second to Zack Greinke among Brewers starters in ERA and tops on the staff with a .227 opponents’ average.

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Lots of Draft signings

The Brewers today announced that they have signed 21 additional players from the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, and have now officially signed each of their first six selections and 12 of their first 15 selections.

These new signees are in addition to first round picks Clint Coulter and Victor Roache, whose deals were finalized last week.

Round / Player / Position / Initial assignment

1A. Mitch Haniger – RF (Wisconsin)

2. Tyrone Taylor – CF (Arizona)

3. Zach Quintana – RHP (Arizona)

4. Tyler Wagner – RHP (Helena)

6. Angel Ortega – SS (Arizona)

7. David Otterman – LHP (Helena)

9. Alex Lavandero – RHP (Arizona)

10. Anthony Banda – LHP (Arizona)

12. Eric Semmelhack – RHP (Helena)

13. Alan Sharkey – 1B (Arizona)

16. Adam Giacalone – 1B (Helena)

17. Alfredo Rodriguez – SS (Helena)

20. Michael Garza – 3B (Helena)

21. Austin Blaski – RHP (Arizona)

24. Michael Turay – C (Helena)

25. Lance Roenicke – OF (Helena)

30. Jonathan Armold – RHP (Arizona)

31. Brent Suter – LHP (Arizona)

33. Austin Hall – RHP (Arizona)

35. Jose Sermo – SS (Arizona)

Undrafted: Taylor Mangum – RHP (Arizona)

The advanced rookie-level Helena Brewers begin their season on Monday, June 18 when they host the Great Falls Voyagers. The rookie-level Arizona Brewers begin their season on Thursday, June 21 when they host the Arizona Dodgers.

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Scarpetta out after Tommy John surgery

Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash confirmed that right-hander Cody Scarpetta, a member of the club’s 40-man roster, underwent ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow last month and is out for the season.

So-called Tommy John surgery usually requires a yearlong rehabilitation but the success rate of the procedure is high. The Brewers used the 23-year-old Scarpetta’s final Minor League option in March.

“The reason why I did have this surgery is I do think I will be in the big leagues at some point, and, to me, I needed to have the surgery to pitch at that level,” Scarpetta told television WIFR in Rockford, Ill.

He ranked No. 18 on MLB.com’s list of the Top 20 Brewers prospects entering the season.

Scarpetta was Milwaukee’s 11th round Draft pick in 2007 and was immediately added to the 40-man roster because of an injury-related rules technicality. He is 21-28 with a 3.61 ERA in four Minor League seasons.

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Brewers leave door open for Richardson return

Outfielder D’Vontrey Richardson, No. 20 on MLB.com’s list of the top 20 Brewers prospects entering this season, has decided to give up baseball, the Herald of Albany, Ga. reported last week.

Richardson was a baseball and football star at Florida State when the Brewers made him a fifth-round Draft pick in 2009 and convinced him to focus on baseball. He played last season at Class A Brevard County but missed 2012 Spring Training with what a Brewers official told MLB.com was a “personal issue;” it appears that issue was Richardson’s decision to hang up his cleats.

“Sometimes, you just have to give it up whenever it’s not as fun as it used to be,” Richardson told the newspaper. “It’s a game we’ve played our whole life, and we should just be able to go out and have fun doing it. Practice was fun, the games were fun, but all the traveling and being away from my family and friends [was difficult].

“Right now, I just want to get my degree, take what I learned from the experience and get my life back on track. I learned a lot from this, and maybe my only regret is that I should’ve been more patient with football and stayed in school.”

He was a quarterback for the Seminoles. Now, he told the Herald, he plans to return to FSU to complete a degree in physical education.

“When I’m done, I’d like to start coaching football,” he said. “That’s the sport I always preferred anyway.”

UPDATE: Here’s what farm director Reid Nichols said about the situation:

“We’ve talked, and he still has the desire to play, he just needs to find his way through it,” Nichols said. “We’ve discussed the possibility of him coming back; we do have him under control, he’s on our roster. So we just have to give it time, and if everything works right, he shows the desire we feel is appropriate, he’s in shape, we’ll consider talking to him about coming back next year.”

The Brewers learned of Richardson’s doubts when they were trying to book his travel for Spring Training and he resisted. Nichols played phone tag with the soon-to-be 24-year-old last week and said that while Richardson will not play in 2012, he remains open to a change of heart for 2013.

“You can’t help but like the tools,” Nichols said. “But he does need to get his priorities right. The game is hard enough for a player who really wants to play and would sacrifice everything to do that. Then, when you add in the doubts — ‘Is this really what I want to do?’ — any time there’s failure you’re going to start wondering whether you should be there or not.

“He has to show the desire to want to be there, and go through the hard times that it takes to become a Major League player. If he can convince us that’s where he is, then we’ll consider bringing him back.”

Brewers sign fourth rounder

Tyler Wagner, the Brewers’ fourth round Draft pick out of the University of Utah, Tweeted today that he had officially signed a contract with the Brewers.

The Brewers are still busy signing picks but have not made any formal announcements beyond first-rounders Clint Coulter and Victor Roache. Expect that to change soon; many other of their top selections are tentatively or officially under agreement, including supplemental fiest-rounder Mitch Haniger and second-round selection Tyrone Taylor.

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