March 2013

Opening Day fan guide

Thanks to the Brewers’ John Steinmiller, here’s the rundown for tomorrow’s season opener.

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Monday, April 1 vs. Colorado Rockies, 1:10 p.m. (Opening Day)

Tickets: Opening Day is sold out. Tickets remain available for the other five games of the homestand.

Parking Lots/Gate Opening Times: The Miller Park parking lots will open at 10 a.m. on Opening Day. The gates to Miller Park will open at 11 a.m. Please note the changes to gate opening times for the 2013 season. Gates will open 90 minutes prior to first pitch for all games this season except for Opening Day and all Saturday games in June, July and August. For those games, gates will open two hours prior to first pitch. Parking lots will open three hours before every game this season.

First Pitch: James Beckum, founder of the Beckum-Stapleton Little League and former Negro Leagues player, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Beckum started the Beckum-Stapleton Little League on Milwaukee’s near north side in 1964 and has been a fixture in the community and in the league ever since. Beckum will be joined on the field for the first pitch by two players from the Beckum-Stapleton Little League and the RBI Program in Milwaukee. Titus Brown, 12, and Paniya Stewart, 11, both from Milwaukee, will join Stapleton on the field for the first pitch.

National Anthem: Joseph Attanasio, father of Brewers Chairman and Principal Owner Mark Attanasio, will sing the national anthem before Monday’s Opening Day.

Caterpillar Global Mining Brewers Magnetic Schedule Day: All fans in attendance will receive a Brewers 2013 magnetic schedule, compliments of Caterpillar Global Mining. All fans will also receive a Brewers rally towel.

The 11th Annual Klement’s Opening Day First Brat Relay Race: Prior to first pitch on Opening Day, the Famous Racing Sausages will take part in the 11th Annual Klement’s Opening Day First Brat Relay Race, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Klement’s plant on Chase Ave. The Klement’s Famous Racing Sausages™ will deliver the “First Brat” all the way to Miller Park (weather permitting).

I-94 CONSTRUCTION

The Brewers want to ensure the fan experience at Miller Park is enjoyable and that begins with traveling to and from the game. Throughout the early season games, periodic lane closures will be in effect on I-94. Fans are encouraged to stay up to date on traffic information by visiting the Wisconsin Department of Transportation website at http://www.511wi.gov for up to the minute lane closures, alternate routes and other traffic information. For more information tailored specifically to arriving and departing Miller Park, visit the Miller Park tab at Brewers.com.

OPENING DAY PARKING INFORMATION

The Brewers are urging fans to plan ahead when considering parking options for all games at Miller Park, but in particular for Opening Day. Fans may purchase parking passes in advance for all home dates at Miller Park through the Miller Park Box Office, Brewers.com or by phone at (414) 902-4000. Please note, a limited number of parking passes are available for Opening Day. (Note from McCalvy: If you still don’t have one, you’ll have to go to the Miller Park box office today — Sunday — to get one. Otherwise, you’re best to use public transit.)

Consistent with recent years, the Brewers have arranged for overflow parking at Wisconsin State Fair Park for Opening Day. In the likely event that Miller Park lots reach capacity, fans may take the 84th street exit from I-94 and enter through gate #7. From there, they will see signage and staff directing them to the parking area. A $15 fee will cover vehicle parking and shuttle services are free. Buses, provided by Riteway Bus, will be staged near the U.S. Cellular Gate at State Fair Park and will offer service to and from Miller Park before and after the game. Shuttle services are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. and will run until approximately 1.5 hours after the game. Buses will pick up in the drop-off location which will be located on VA grounds. Fans should follow the path marked “Stadium” which will lead them to the Right Field Gate. Please tune in to AM 1180 or go to @Bernie_Brewer on Twitter for up to the minute information.

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Davis, Figaro make final cut

Outfielder Khris Davis and right-hander Alfredo Figaro made the final cut when the Brewers set their Opening Day roster on Saturday.

Davis won the final bench spot over catcher/first baseman Blake Lalli, and Figaro the final bullpen spot over fellow righty Donovan Hand. Officially, the Brewers purchased Figaro’s contract and returned Hand, Lalli, catcher Anderson De La Rosa and first baseman/outfielder Sean Halton to Triple-A Nashville.

The Brewers’ roster broke down like this:

Pitchers (13): John Axford, Burke Badenhop, Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers, Figaro, Yovani Gallardo, Michael Gonzalez, Tom Gorzelanny, Jim Henderson, Brandon Kintzler, Kyle Lohse, Chris Narveson and Wily Peralta.

Catchers (2): Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado.

Infielders (5): Yuniesky Betancourt, Alex Gonzalez, Aramis Ramirez, Jean Segura and Rickie Weeks.

Outfielders (5): Norichika Aoki, Ryan Braun, Davis, Carlos Gomez and Logan Schafer.

Disabled list (5): Jeff Bianchi, Mat Gamel (60-day DL), Taylor Green, Corey Hart, Mark Rogers.

Eight players are on a big league Opening Day roster for the first time: Davis, Fiers, Figaro, Henderson, Maldonado, Peralta, Schafer and Segura.

The Brewers went with 13 pitchers in part because Lohse just signed Monday after a very abbreviated Spring Training, and the extra arm will offer some coverage while he gets up to speed. Manager Ron Roenicke said the team would re-evaluate its alignment after playing several series.

He would prefer to return to a 12-man staff as soon as possible.

“When you look at a four-man bench and one of them has to be your backup catcher who you can’t afford to put in too early in games, you’re really looking at a three-man bench. In a National League game, it’s hard to do,” Roenicke said. “We did it quite a bit last year; it’s hard to do.”

Davis’ right-handed power helped his cause, plus the fact that he was already on the 40-man roster, Roenicke said.

And of picking Figaro over Hand, Roenicke said the Brewers favored, “More of a ‘stuff’ guy, being able to come in and really throw some good fastballs at people down in the zone. We liked his command. That’s nothing against Donny Hand; he pitched great for us and opened a lot of eyes.”

The Brewers figure to make some early-season changes. Besides returning to a 12-man pitching staff, infielder Green is expected to be the first man off the DL. His bid for Opening Day was scuttled by a left hip injury.

Green was to be the Brewers’ backup to first base, but the club will instead start with a combination of shortstops Gonzalez and Betancourt and catcher Maldonado. General manager Doug Melvin and Roenicke both indicated the Brewers were not particularly interested in players who became available this week, including Daric Barton (waived by the A’s) and Juan Rivera (released by the Yankees).

“Unless it’s somebody a lot better, we’re reluctant to make any moves,” Roenicke said. “In part because we feel pretty comfortable with what we have now, and we know that Corey is coming back. Once Corey does come back, there is going to be a decision that has to be made.”

The Brewers open their season on Monday afternoon against the Rockies at Miller Park.

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Narveson hopes to mimic Braves’ Medlen

Comparing his situation to the Braves’ Kris Medlen in 2012, Brewers left-hander Chris Narveson said he was on board with going to the bullpen to begin the season.

The addition of free agent veteran Kyle Lohse on Monday gave the Brewers the luxury of moving one of their projected starters to long relief. They chose Narveson, allowing the 31-year-old to ease into pitching after missing the final five months of last season following shoulder surgery.

“It kind of gives you a little bit of a break between [Spring Training] and cranking things up,” Narveson said. “Considering it’s 162 games, I’d rather be strong come August, September than be strong at the beginning and then all of a sudden you fade out to the end.”

He referenced Medlen, the Braves right-hander who underwent Tommy John surgery late in 2010 and pitched only two games in 2011. When he came back healthy for 2012, the Braves used Medlen in relief for the first four months of the season. After he shifted to the rotation beginning July 31, Medlen went 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA in 12 starts, then started the Braves’ Wild Card game against the Cardinals.

Medlen is four years younger and a completely different pitcher, but his name did come up when Narveson discussed his role with Brewers officials.

“It was a collective [decision],” he said. “It’s a team game, and we know we have to have 25 guys pulling one way. You don’t read too much into it – obviously, starting off in the rotation is always nice, but you’re going to need more than five starters. You’re going to need more help down the road, so just make yourself ready.

“I looked at what Medlen did last year, kind of the same thing, coming off an injury. They kind of took it easy with him at the start, and then all of a sudden when it comes down to crunch time and he’s ‘the guy.’”

Narveson stressed that he was healthy and could have easily began the season in the rotation. The addition of Lohse just offered an alternate option.

“Let’s look at this logistically in a smart way,” Narveson said. “If we can do this, why not take advantage of it?”

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Davis slugs way onto Brewers roster

Khris Davis has had a very good week. On Tuesday, he got engaged. On Wednesday, he was informed that he’d slugged his way onto the Brewers’ Opening Day roster.

The Brewers did not plan to officially set their roster until after Saturday’s exhibition finale against the White Sox. But assuming the plan holds, Davis’ next milestone will be his Major League debut.

“It still hasn’t hit me yet, really,” said Davis, 25. “I don’t know when it will.”

Davis will serve as the Brewers’ fifth outfielder and a power right-handed bat off the bench. The former seventh-round Draft pick, Milwaukee’s 16th-best prospect according to MLB.com, forced his way into the Brewers’ plans by belting a team-best six home runs in Spring Training games, plus another long blast in an exhibition against Canada’s World Baseball Classic team that did not count in the official statistics, plus a team-best 16 RBIs.

The final cut came down to Davis and catcher/first baseman Blake Lalli, a left-handed hitter. The Brewers picked Davis for his bat; because he is mostly limited to left field by a below-average throwing arm, he figures to see very limited defensive duty unless something happens to regular left fielder Ryan Braun.

The next challenge, Davis said, is “Staying here. Not taking anything for granted. I’m going to keep working hard and helping the team with whatever I can do. Bring some energy to the table and be a good teammate. That’s the best thing I can do right now.”

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Narveson to begin season in bullpen

Brewers left-hander Chris Narveson will begin the season in a long relief role, a precautionary move, manager Ron Roenicke said, to aid Narveson’s comeback from last year’s shoulder surgery.

That means the five-man starting rotation is set: Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta are tentatively scheduled to start against the Rockies from Monday-Wednesday, leaving Kyle Lohse and Mike Fiers to pitch the first two games of the following series against the D-backs, though not necessarily in that order.

Narveson will not start Saturday’s exhibition finale as originally scheduled, Roenicke said.

“We want to back off him a little bit,” Roenicke said. “He’s fine. He’ll probably ‘piggyback’ Lohse when he makes that first start.”

Narveson had surgery last May 1 to repair a torn labrum and torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder. He has not had any setbacks, Roenicke stressed.

“He’s OK, but he’s been really pushing through this thing in Spring Training, through the surgery,” Roenicke said. “In the long run, it’s probably going to help him to limit his innings at the start.”

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A’s claim Stinson off waivers

Needing space on a full 40-man roster, the Brewers waived right-hander Josh Stinson this week and lost him Friday to the A’s.

The Brewers will add one or perhaps two players to the 40-man roster after Saturday’s exhibition finale at Miller Park. One will be a pitcher — Donovan Hand or Alfredo Figaro — and another could be catcher/first baseman Blake Lalli, if they choose Lalli over outfielder Khris Davis for the final spot on the bench.

Stinson, who is only 25 years old, allowed only one run in 9 1/3 innings for the Brewers last September after going 11-9 with a 3.16 ERA in 29 games at Double-A Huntsville. He was ticketed for the Triple-A Nashville rotation to start this year after a very good Cactus League (1.50 ERA in 10 appearances).

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Milestone day for Minor League coach LeBoeuf

LeBoeufI wanted to pass along some terrific news from Brewers Minor League coach Al LeBoeuf, who shared his story of perseverance with MLB.com earlier in camp and achieved a personal milestone on Wednesday morning. Struck by a form of blood cancer last year that caused his legs to go numb from the knees down, LeBoeuf walked from his hotel room to the elevator to the lobby on only one crutch.

“That was my goal and I actually did it today for the first time, and I was really excited,” LeBoeuf said. “I know some people have said I’ve been an inspiration to them, but believe me when I tell you, they’ve been an inspiration to me.”

LeBoeuf will take a leave of absence at the start of the season to undergo a stem cell transplant, a previously-planned procedure that is part of his road to recovery. He is aiming to be back on the field by July.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin extended a kind gesture on Wednesday, offering to send LeBoeuf and his wife on a weekend vacation once LeBoeuf is feeling well enough. He may time that trip to coincide with some Brewers games.

If you want to read the original story about LeBoeuf’s trying year, click here.

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Morning Brew: Lohse, Rogers, Bianchi

It was a busy morning in Brewers camp, with right-hander Kyle Lohse settling in just as his new teammates began to pack up their lockers.  Some, like Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez, were more than ready for the impending start of the regular season. Others, like Khris Davis, Brandon Kintzler and Mike Fiers, were sweating the team’s final roster decisions.

Here are some notes from amid the bustle:

– Kyle Lohse was immediately popular in his new clubhouse. Brewers pitchers went out to dinner Tuesday at Scottsdale’s City Hall Stakehouse, and Lohse picked up the tab.

“It’s been a crazy two, three days,” said Lohse, who signed a three-year, $33 million contract on Tuesday. “You’re talking about family stuff, too, finding a place to live. … But I got to know some of the guys last night and paid my dues for being late.”

– Lohse said his Tuesday bullpen went well, that he was eager to face Major League hitters for the first time on Thursday (against the Rockies) and that he is hoping to be in the Brewers’ five-man pitching rotation right from the start of the season. That’s a possibility, according to pitching coach Rick Kranitz.

“My plan is to be in that first time through,” Lohse said. “I know they can get by without that, but in all honesty, I’m ready. I’m going to enjoy getting out there [Thursday] and facing the big league guys rather than the college guys I had been facing.”

He got up to 95 pitches in a simulated game against Scottsdale Community College before signing with the Brewers, but will probably be more limited on Thursday against the Rockies.

“I don’t think they’re going to let me go that far because they haven’t seen me,” said Lohse, who mentioned 60 pitches as more realistic. “Until they see it, I have to gain that confidence. We’ll see how it goes.”

– Right-hander Mark Rogers said he was “on board, for sure,” with the Brewers’ decision to place him on the season-opening disabled list, giving Rogers some time to reclaim his missing velocity. The official reason was “shoulder instability, and he met with assistant GM Gord Ash and members of Milwaukee’s athletic training staff on Wednesday morning to set a very specific plan for the next two weeks.

“Like we talked about before, I’m extremely confident my velocity will be back sooner rather than later,” Rogers said. “It’s just a matter of continuing to get stronger and allowing myself the time to get there. I’m feeling better every day. I’m excited to have the opportunity to get stronger, and hopefully be back with the club when the 15 days are up. I just have to listen to my arm.”

Rogers will remain at Maryvale Baseball Park when the rest of the team departs Thursday. Once he’s ready to pitch, the Brewers can keep Rogers on a rehab assignment for up to 30 days.

“I want to get to 100 percent,” he said. “I’m not going to myself any justice, or the club any justice, if I pitch at less than 100 percent. That’s what the goal is for the next couple of weeks.”

– Infielder Donnie Murphy elected his release from a Minor League contract on Wednesday morning. He was informed the day before that he would not make the club, after the Brewers signed Yuniesky Betancourt to a one-year contract pending a physical.

– Jeff Bianchi, who is still dealing with a hip injury, will be placed on the 15-day DL today. He’s a no-go for the Opening Day roster, as expected.

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Yuni in, Murphy out for Brewers

As if the Kyle Lohse deal were not enough to fill Milwaukee’s talk radio airwaves, the Brewers acquired an old favorite on Tuesday.

Yuniesky Betancourt, the team’s free-swinging starting shortstop in 2011, is a physical exam away from re-signing on a one-year, Major League deal and breaking camp as the Brewers’ utility infielder. He will undergo that physical on Wednesday, and if the deal goes through Betancourt could earn up to $1.4 million, including incentives.

The Brewers have already informed nonroster invitee Donnie Murphy that he is unlikely to make the club in the wake of the Betancourt move. Murphy could ask for his release.

“We signed a veteran guy [in Betancourt] who we have a lot of familiarity with,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. “Since we’re going to have Alex [Gonzalez] play a lot of first base early in the season, Yuni gives us a guy who can play multiple infield positions. He did a really good job last year with Kansas City in that role.”

Betancourt, now 31, had asked for his release from a Minor League contract with the Phillies on Sunday after going 21-for-47 (.447) with 14 RBIs in 18 Grapefruit League games.

Agent Alex Esteban said Betancourt had also expressed interest in the outfield, where Betancourt played for the Cuban National Team before signing with the Mariners in 2005. The Brewers are beginning the season with only four outfielders: starters Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Norichika Aoki and reserve Logan Schafer.

The Brewers were in the market for backup infielders because Jeff Bianchi has been limited to one game since March 2 by a hip injury, and Taylor Green was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a labrum injury in his left hip.

Betancourt batted .228 with seven home runs and 36 RBIs in 215 at-bats last season with the Royals while playing a reserve role. With the Brewers in 2011, he played 156 games and batted .256 with 13 homers and 68 RBIs, then hit .310 in 11 postseason games.

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Asencio traded, Gindl optioned amid moves

The Brewers made a flurry of roster moves today:

– Minor League right-hander Jairo Asencio has been traded to the Orioles in exchange for a player to be named. Originally a non-roster invitee to big league camp who was delayed by visa troubles in the Dominican Republic, Asencio made his long-awaited debut on Sunday against the Padres and allowed two runs on a hit and two walks without recording an out.

–Left-hander Miguel De Los Santos was placed on the restricted list and no longer counts against the Brewers 40-man roster limit. He remains in the Dominican Republic awaiting his work visa.

– That left the roster at 39 players even after the Brewers added right-hander Kyle Lohse, who passed a physical and signed his three-year contract.

–Outfielder Caleb Gindl was optioned to Triple-A Nashville but will accompany the Major League team to Milwaukee for its exhibition games against the White Sox on Friday and Saturday. He will then report to Nashville on Sunday.

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