Blogging “Brewers On Deck”

I’ll update this blog throughout the day with news and notes from the Brewers’ annual fanfest.

2:30 p.m. CT — Gamel, Narveson are ‘good to go’

The Brewers’ head physician Dr. William Raasch examined a number of players on Sunday morning including infielder Mat Gamel and left-hander Chris Narveson and offered positive reports on both, according to assistant GM Gord Ash.

“They’re all good to go,” Ash said.

Gamel had surgery last May to repair a torn ACL in his right knee and the Brewers will be careful about overworking him at the start of Spring Training. All that means is Gamel will probably skip the sort of “extra” work he would normally do as a player preparing to play multiple positions. Ash said Gamel should be able to participate in all of the regular camp drills.

The Brewers expect to use Gamel as the starting first baseman in April and May while Corey Hart recovers from knee surgery.

Narveson, who had surgery in May for a torn left rotator cuff and labrum, threw his most recent bullpen session in Arizona on Friday without issue, Ash said.

“[Manager] Ron [Roenicke] wants to be sure we’re careful with him, which we’re going to be, and we go slow,” Ash said. “But there’s no restrictions.”

Narveson will compete for a spot in the starting rotation.

Only three players on the big-league camp roster ware expected to be limited at the start: Hart, left-hander Miguel De Los Santos (shoulder) and infielder Hector Gomez (groin). The Brewers claimed De Los Santos off waivers from the Rangers in September knowing he had a shoulder issue.

“We decided we’d rather get him fixed now and get it over with instead of going into the season wondering when he’s going to break down,” Ash said. “He should be back by July.”

2 p.m. CT — Attanasio: More moves possible

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told fans during a question and answer session that he’s still in talks with “a couple” of free agent infielders. After that session, principal owner Mark Attanasio went a little further

“By the way, everybody talks about free agency, but we could still end up doing a trade. That’s not out of the [question],” Attanasio said. “We’ve had a couple of glancing trade conversations over the last several weeks. It’s all a possibility.”

I asked whether there there was any scenario in which Kyle Lohse, who remains a free agent, fits the Brewers’ plan.

“There’s always a chance,” Attanasio said. “Again, it’s a function of size of contract, length of contract. Kyle had a phenomenal two seasons the last two seasons. We just have to see if that fits in our overall scheme.”

When asked whether the Brewers had been in contact with Lohse’s agent, Scott Boras, Attanasio said only that, “Doug is in the office every day … and is in touch with all the agents, all the general managers.”

Besides a financial commitment to Lohse, the Brewers would have to forefeit their first-round Draft pick (No. 17 overall) to the Cardinals, who made a qualifying offer to Lohse. That sounded like less of an impediment to Attanasio than the dollars.

“The draft pick compensation, I think you have to look at the whole picture,” Attanasio said. “We’ve given up picks before, and when we got CC [Sabathia] and we got Zack [Greinke], we gave up more than draft compensation — we gave up ready-to-go young players. This season, we’re mindful of the fact that if we do add some pieces, we may have to give up some young players.

“So, the draft pick compensation hasn’t been as big an item for us in looking at this as it’s been for other teams. We’ve got the No. 17 pick. We’ve done some good things with that level of pick, but I’m mindful that we drafted Ryan Braun No. 5 and Prince Fielder No. 7 and Rickie Weeks No. 2.”

Melvin declined to name any of the infielders of interest. It sounds like the door is still open for shortstop Alex Gonzalez, of whom Melvin said, “We’ve talked to his guy. I’d rather not say where [it stands] at this point, with teams competing for certain guys.”

Both the Brewers and Gonzalez, who missed most of last season after undergoing surgery for a torn ACL, have expressed mutual interest since the start of the offseason. The issue has been, and remains, playing time. The Brewers remain committed to young Jean Segura as their starting shortstop, Melvin said Sunday.

1:30 p.m. CT — Explaining Hart’s absence

Many fans have asked this question recently: If Corey Hart’s surgery for two significant meniscal tears last spring required a one-month recovery, why will this year’s surgery for a “minor” meniscal tear plus a debridement of the knee require four months?

Here’s how Gord Ash explained:

“It’s totally different. This time, it’s on the other side. It’s smaller, but the more significant injury is the debridement of the joint surface. In layman’s terms the best way I can explain it to you is, you know what you’re eating chicken, and at the joint there’s that kind of white [substance]? He’s got a defect in that, and the way you heal that is to rough it over and let it bleed, and it heals up and fills in the pothole.”

That takes time, Ash said, “because he can’t be as aggressive with your rehab initially. You have to be less weight-bearing initially. That slows everything down.”

Dr. William Raasch initially thought Hart would have to be off his feet for six weeks, though that estimate has since been revised downward. The Brewers may be more aggressive in moving Hart to range of motion exercises.

“He’s proven to be a good rehab patient, so he will follow all of the rehab protocols,” Ash said.

As for why the initial estimate of a 3-4 month rehab was revised after surgery to a flat four months, Ash explained, “It’s probably semantics. I’d rather say ‘four months’ and then come to you guys in three and a half and say, ‘He’s ready,’ than at the three-month mark you saying, ‘How come he’s not back yet.’ The doctor wasn’t concerned. There wasn’t anything he wasn’t expecting to find there.”

To be clear: The four month estimate is inclusive of the entire rehab process. In other words, the Brewers hope to have Hart back in a Major League game by the final week of May.

Hart, by the way, returned home to Phoenix on Sunday and missed the “On Deck” event.

12:30 a.m. CT — Still seeking a 1B

The Brewers plan to start Mat Gamel at first base while Corey Hart recovers from right knee surgery, though manager Ron Roenicke said Gamel would also play the outfield and third base in Spring Training to be ready for Hart’s return. First base prospect Hunter Morris will get a good, long look in Spring Training, and the Brewers could also use Taylor Green there.

At the same time, “There’s still the possibility that Doug [Melvin, the Brewers' general manger] is talking to some guys right now [and] we get somebody else into camp.”

It could be a Travis Ishikawa type, though Ishikawa has already signed a Minor League deal with the Orioles. As far as I know, Lyle Overbay is still a free agent.

Roenicke made clear: “When Corey comes back, Corey is going to be our first baseman.”

12:15 p.m. CT — Catching conundrum

The Brewers would prefer not to lose both of their regular catchers to the World Baseball Classic.

But Jonathan Lucroy committed to Team USA and Martin Maldonado will play for Puerto Rico, leaving manager Ron Roenicke scrambling to figure out how he’ll cover games for at least that one week in March.

“I would much rather have our catchers there catching these guys, no doubt,” Roenicke said. “I think it’s really important.”

The good news is that this Spring Training is longer than most because of the Classic. Plus, there’s always the chance that the U.S. or Puerto Rico will be bounced from the tournament early, so the Brewers would get at least one of their catchers back.

The Brewers’ other catchers in big league camp are all non-roster invitees: Dayton Buller, Anderson De La Rosa, Blake Lalli, Rafael Neda and Adam Weisenburger. Only Lalli has played in the Majors — all of six games with the Cubs.

Who qualifies as the Brewers’ third catcher?

“Now, don’t ask me that question,” Roenicke said with a smile. “We don’t know. …

“I’m not worried about physically, who can catch them. But I want a guy who is going to be with us and working with these guys to get them locked in, to talk about stuff between innings and what they need to work on. If I guy wants to work on his change-up at the beginning of Spring Training to get ready for the end, I want our catchers to know that. And we’re not going to have our two [regular] guys there, so it’s going to be difficult.”

11:55 a.m. CT — Peralta leads the pack?

It sounds like the Brewers’ starting rotation battle could come down to three pitchers for two spots.

Manager Ron Roenicke said Sunday what we already knew: Yovani Gallardo is a lock for the top clot and the team is “counting on” Marco Estrada to be the No. 2. But while saying that the race for the other three spots was “open,” Roenicke offered some hints that young right-hander Wily Peralta leads the rest of the pack.

“Peralta has a huge upside,” Roenicke said. “If he pitches like he did a few of those games last year, he’s got a huge upside.”

Other candidates include left-hander Chris Narveson, who is coming off shoulder surgery, and right-handers Mike Fiers and Mark Rogers. Rogers is out of Minor League options.

Roenicke also touted the team’s depth, arguing that the five starters at the beginning of the season don’t have to be the same five at the end. He was referring to extra options like prospects Tyler Thornburg and Hiram Burgos, plus reliever Tom Gorzelanny, who has experience as a starter.

It’s already clear to Roenicke that questions about the Brewers’ young pitching staff will dominate the spring.

“That probably is going to be the question mark,” he said. “We hope our regular [hitters] perform like they did last year, and we feel comfortable that they will. “

Can the Brewers win the NL Central with such a young rotation?

“When you say, ‘Can you?’ Certainly, we can,” Roenicke said. “It’s going to be tough. There’s some good teams in our division.”

*

Follow me on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy

8 Comments

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I don’t get why giving up draft picks and giving away young players is such a triviality. The team has all sorts of depth, yet they always seem determined to avoid long term success.

I don’t know what’s more depressing, the thought of Lohse and his inevitable poor performance at an excessive price or what seems like Roenicke’s dislike for Gamel. Lohse almost sounds like a probability and Gamel will probably do well with wherever he ands up because it isn’t going to be playing for Roenicke.

Pingback: Kyle Lohse (Cardinals) — BaseballMoves.com

I personally wonder why you named this particular posting, “Blogging Brewers On Deck Brew Beat”.
In any case I personally adored the blog!
Regards,Madonna

The third catcher should be Lalli. His stats in the Bigs are not eye popping but he is a smart player, He played for Sanberg, and former gold glove catcher Jody Davis. If they are looking for someone to work with the pitchers, Lalli is ahead of the rest. He had 12 innings and 13 Ks.

I agreed that the third catcher should be Lalli!

This kind of very useful article. Very worthwhile to
read this particular article.I want to thank you for the actual efforts you had created for scripting this article great article.

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