September 2012

Clean MRI for Peralta, still could pitch Tuesday

Brewers pitching prospect Wily Peralta received a clean bill of health after an MRI scan of his right arm on Friday and remains scheduled to make one more 2012 start on Tuesday against the Padres — if the Brewers are still alive in the National League Wild Card race.

The 23-year-old Peralta’s status was in question after he exited a stellar start against the Reds on Thursday complaining of tightness in his right biceps. After the MRI scan showed no physical damage, Peralta was able to play catch at Miller Park.

“I was really happy that he wasn’t real sore today,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “He still felt it a little bit, but he wasn’t very sore, which is very encouraging. He saw the doctors and everybody says he is fine, physically.”

But the Brewers won’t risk another Peralta start unless they need it, Roenicke said. The team entered Friday four games behind the Cardinals in the chase for the second NL Wild Card with only six to play.

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Peralta exited with tight biceps

Brewers pitching prospect Wily Peralta exited Thursday’s game after 5 1/3 innings with tightness in his right biceps, and the club will have to decide in the coming days whether to send him back out for one more start.

“We’ll see how he is [Friday] and what it looks like,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “It’s a shame for him, because he was throwing the ball great.”

But Peralta was not 100 percent after the second inning, when he told veteran third baseman Aramis Ramirez that his right arm was bothering him. Ramirez passed word to Roenicke, and staffers kept a close eye on Peralta over the ensuing innings.

He looked just fine. Peralta surrendered only two Reds singles and no runs through five innings, but looked wild while striking out opposing pitcher Mat Latos to begin the sixth. When the Brewers went around the horn after the play, the infielders wouldn’t return the baseball to Peralta. Head athletic trainer Dan Wright visited the mound and Peralta immediately exited.

The 23-year-old is tentatively scheduled to pitch again on Tuesday against the Padres.

“I think I’m going to be OK for the next one,” Peralta said. “I was getting ahead of the hitters, throwing strikes, keeping the ball down. I was pretty happy with the way I threw the ball today. [The injury] is something you don’t want to happen, but I will try to get myself ready for the next one. I feel fine, and I’m going to start throwing tomorrow and let’s see.”

Said Ramirez: “He wanted to stay out there, but it made no sense. Not for a young man like that.”

Roenicke said Brewers medical staffers were “not concerned” about the issue bothering Peralta in the long term.

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Plan for Fiers, Peralta subject to change

Rookie right-hander Wily Peralta is scheduled for two more starts and Mike Fiers for one, but the plan is subject to change based on the Brewers’ place in the standings, manager Ron Roenicke said Wednesday.

Club officials have closely monitored both rookies’ workloads, particularly Fiers, who has struggled down the stretch as he pushes into uncharted innings. Including Tuesday’s 4 1/3-inning loss to the Reds, Fiers has a 6.70 ERA and a .316 opponents’ average over his last nine starts, and Roenicke was asked whether Fiers’ final scheduled start on Sunday against the Astros at Miller Park was subject to the Brewers being alive in the National League Wild Card race.

“I don’t know. I can’t answer that,” Roenicke said. “When that time comes, we’ll probably talk about a couple things with a couple pitchers. Hopefully, we don’t have to think about that.”

In other words, he hopes the Brewers stay alive in the hunt for the NL’s second Wild Card. The Cardinals held that spot entering Wednesday night, with a 4 1/2-game lead over both the Brewers and Dodgers.

Peralta starts Thursday against the Reds and is in line to pitch again on Tuesday against the Padres in the penultimate game of the regular season.

Mark Rogers, shut down earlier this month in a pre-emptive move, is not an option to start again if someone like Fiers or Peralta is instructed to call it a season, Roenicke said. Those duties would fall instead to Tyler Thornburg, Josh Stinson or Livan Hernandez.

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Brewers now face monumental task

It looks like Mike Fiers and the Brewers are running out of gas.

Fiers didn’t make it past the fifth inning for the fifth straight start, and a 4-2 Brewers loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday night marked Milwaukee’s first back-to-back defeats in nearly five weeks — a serious blow to its spirited bid for the postseason.

It’s the sort of slide the Brewers can ill afford if they want to play past their remaining regular-season games. With three losses in four days, the Brewers have fallen from 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the chase for the National League’s second Wild Card to 4 1/2 games back with only eight to play.

“It’s not impossible, but we’re going to be in a tough situation,” said third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who did his part Tuesday with a slick defensive play in the second inning and a homer that gave the Brewers some hope in the seventh.

Hope is dwindling for the Brewers after they lost Monday’s series finale in Washington and Tuesday’s opener in Cincinnati. Before those setbacks, they had not dropped consecutive games since Aug. 18-19 at Miller Park against the Phillies.

That’s when they took off, winning eight of nine games, 11 of 13 and 25 of 32 to climb from 12 games under .500 to six games over, and within 1 1/2 games of the Cardinals for the second Wild Card as recently as Saturday morning.

It has been a quick fall since then. While the Brewers play the postseason-bound Nationals and Reds, the Cardinals have been beating the cellar-dwelling Cubs and Astros.

Asked to ponder a scenario in which the Brewers fall short of the postseason, Ramirez said, “At least we were playing for something besides finishing strong and putting up good numbers. We were playing to win. We were playing for something, and that’s all you can ask for. At this point, it hasn’t worked out, but we’ve still got a chance.”

Said manager Ron Roenicke: “It’s certainly looking a lot tougher. We’re going to have to get some big-time help.”

To wit: The Brewers have eight games left against the Reds, Astros and Padres, and if they win all of them, they would be 87-75. The Cardinals could go 3-4 and still be in position to host a play-in game against the Brewers at Busch Stadium. Plus, the Dodgers are still in the picture.

Bottom line, from Fiers: “We have to win out, I think.”

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Braun voices support for Rodgers, Packers

Yes, the MVPs touched base via telephone on Tuesday about the subject dominating the sports world.

National League MVP Ryan Braun said he’d spoken with NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers about the Packers’ stinging, controversial loss in Seattle on Monday Night Football, a game settled on a last-minute heave that had Packers players, including Rodgers, fuming.

So what did Braun tell his buddy?

“I’m not going to get into our personal conversations,” he said with a smile.

But Braun did say this: “We all watched the game, and I think we saw the same thing everybody else saw. It’s unfortunate when a game ends like that, when everybody recognizes what actually happened. And the difference between football and baseball is it’s like the equivalent of 10 games for us because [the NFL] is a 16-game season. It’s a difference between us being 10-0 versus 0-10. When you think about that, it just feels unfair. It doesn’t feel right.”

Braun and Rodgers struck up a friendship several years ago and are close today, with Rodgers making several visits to Miller Park over the past two seasons and Braun visiting Lambeau Field as recently as Sept. 13 for a Thursday night game against the Bears. They lent their names to a Brookfield, Wis. restaurant that opened earlier this year.

The Brewers traveled from Washington D.C. to Cincinnati on Monday night in time to see the entire Packers-Seahawks game.

“Everybody was mad, angry, disgusted,” Braun said.

He added: “It makes me appreciate the fact we have our real umpires day in and day out. You realize those guys do the best job they can, and you want the guys who are most qualified to be calling games with what’s on the line. All of us work so hard, you want the most qualified guys making those decisions. This is our livelihood, this is our profession. We take a tremendous amount of pride in what we do, and you want the people who have the best chance of getting the calls right to be making the calls. It makes me appreciate we don’t have to deal with replacement umpires at this level, because I can only imagine how frustrating it would be.”

Could Braun sense Rodgers’ level of frustration?

“I think he just felt like the team, that they shouldn’t have put themselves in that position,” Braun said. “He felt that they could have played better and not even been in that position. They’ll be alright. He obviously has high expectations for himself and the team and that offense.”

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Daily Hart update: ‘Same’

Corey Hart needed only one word Tuesday to update the condition of his injured left foot:

“Same,” Hart said.

That was bad news for the Brewers, who were hoping to have their slugging first baseman back in the lineup Tuesday for the start of a crucial, 10-game road trip. Instead, Hart remained indefinitely sidelined, limited — maybe — to pinch-hitting duties because of torn tissue along his left arch.

Doctors, Hart said, had ruled out what he considered the last resort — a platelet-rich plasma injection to speed healing in the area. Hart said Drs. William Raasch and Mark Niedfeldt decided, according to Hart, that the temporary relief would not outweigh the risk of further, more serious damage.

So Hart instead continued experimenting with different tape jobs, and is wearing custom shoe inserts to ease pain in his foot.

“If baseball was all in straight lines, I’d be good to go,” Hart said. “I feel like it’s improving, but not to where I need it. It’s tough, because I want to go out there and play every day, but there are so many things that I think I would hurt our team if I was in there. I feel like I couldn’t score from first [on a double] or score from second [on a hit], quick plays at first are going to be hard to move back and forth.”

Beginning Tuesday, the Brewers had only 16 games remaining in the regular season, but manager Ron Roenicke expressed optimism that Hart would see action before the year is out.

“If he keeps getting a little bit better, I think he will be able to start [a game],” Roenicke said. “If we get to the point where he’s not getting any better at all, we’ll have to talk about it and see what he wants to do, but I’m still hopeful that we’ll get him back out there.”

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Setback for Hart on the bases

An unsuccessful baserunning session on Sunday morning cast serious doubt on outfielder Corey Hart’s hope to return to the Brewers’ starting lineup by Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

Hart missed a sixth consecutive start on Sunday with a left foot injury. He has a partial tear of the plantar fascia, the connective tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot.

“I’m definitely aiming for Tuesday, I just wish it would have felt better today than it did,” Hart said. “It’s a little frustrating. Today was the first day I tried to run the bases, and it didn’t go as planned.”

Running in a straight line was fine, but the trouble came when Hart ran along the arc along the outer edge of the infield dirt.

Travis Ishikawa started in Hart’s place again on Sunday. Hart said Ishikawa “has been awesome” while filling in, and is pondering whether to force a return to the lineup or whether the team is better with Ishikawa and Taylor Green splitting first base duty.

“It’s tough, because I want to play,” Hart said. “I’ve played through a lot of injuries, but it’s one of those things where if I’m on first, I’m not going to be able to score on a double. If I’m on second, it’s going to be iffy to score on anything. Is it worth it to these guys? I feel like I wouldn’t be able to do everything I need to do.”

The last resort, Hart said, is an anti-inflammatory injection. The club’s medical officials on Sunday were mulling the pros and cons of that step.

Asked about the possibility Hart might not be able to play the rest of this season, manager Ron Roenicke said, “That’s always a possibility.”

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Braun says no beef with Mets

Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun said he expected nothing out of the ordinary in tonight’s matchup against the Mets, the teams’ first game since a tense night on May 15 in which Braun was plunked and David Wright was removed from the New York lineup to avoid the possibility of retaliation.

Braun confirmed an ESPN New York report that both Wright and Mets manager Terry Collins approached him at the All-Star Game to smooth things over.

Besides, Braun said the Brewers are more concerned about their bid for the postseason.

“We have far bigger things to worry about than what happened four months ago,” Braun said. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s done and over with.

“I like David, too. He’s my boy. So I hope we don’t do anything.”

It’s notable that the Mets pitcher who threw at Braun, D.J. Carrasco is no longer with them. And tonight’s Brewers starter, Mike Fiers, was still pitching at Triple-A Nashville on May 15.

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Gamel won’t play in Fall League

The Brewers have decided on a cautious approach with rehabbing first baseman Mat Gamel, who will not be quite ready to play in the upcoming Arizona Fall League.

Gamel suffered a torn ACL on May 1, underwent surgery and has been recovering ever since. He recently began swinging and taking ground balls at first base and fly balls in the outfield, and the Brewers considered asking for an exemption from Major League Baseball to add Gamel to the AFL. He has Major League service time in excess of the league’s usual standard.

But that possibility was always incumbent on Gamel’s knee being strong enough to play by Oct. 9, when the league begins play. Outfielder Josh Prince will take the spot earmarked for Gamel instead.

“Matt has not made enough progress physically to meet the timeline of the AFL,” assistant general manager Gord Ash wrote in an email. “His plan is to continue to rehab and look to get at bats in the Dominican later in the season. He is making progress; we just don’t want to rush him back to meet the AFL requirements.”

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Brewers extend affiliation with Triple-A Nashville

Still no new stadium, but the Brewers are staying in Nashville:

The Milwaukee Brewers and Nashville Sounds have extended their player development contract for two more seasons through the completion of the 2014 season. The announcement was made jointly today by Brewers President of Baseball Operations – General Manager Doug Melvin and Sounds co-owner Frank Ward.

“We are pleased to extend our working agreement with the Sounds,” said Melvin. “While the current facility and conditions are not totally satisfactory, we remain loyal and are very supportive of the ownership and Frank Ward in his continued efforts to get a much-needed new park. As General Manager of a Major League franchise, I totally believe in this ownership, and if we can get the same support from the city, Nashville will be one of the most desirable franchises in minor league baseball.”

The Sounds have served as the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate since the start of the 2005 season. In eight seasons as a Brewers affiliate, Nashville has produced five winning records, made the playoffs three times, and captured the 2005 Pacific Coast League title. The Sounds carry a 589-559 record over that stretch.

“We are pleased to continue our relationship with the Brewers,” said Ward. “They are an organization that produces quality major leaguers through their minor league system, and we are looking forward to watching Milwaukee’s next tier of stars continue to develop in Music City.”

The Sounds play their home games at Greer Stadium and are managed by Mike Guerrero.

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