Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

Lucroy hopeful about Opening Day

The pin surgically inserted in Jonathan Lucroy’s fractured right pinkie finger will be removed March 21, the Brewers said, and the player remains hopeful about catching Yovani Gallardo 10 days later in the team’s regular-season opener.
“That’s what we’re shooting for,” said Lucroy, projected as the Brewers’ No. 1 catcher. 
Once the pin is removed, Lucroy could begin hitting as much as pain tolerates him to do so, assistant general manager Gord Ash said. Lucroy could take extra at-bats in Minor League games to catch up. 
Dr. Don Sheridan, who inserted a metal pin into Lucroy’s finger to aid the healing process, examined the digit again Friday. The original schedule had Lucroy sidelined about four weeks from Feb. 24, the day after he was injured in a blocking drill. The Brewers’ season-opener is March 31 in Cincinnati. 
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Saito unsure of next step

You did not have to speak Japanese to understand Takashi Saito’s fear, his frustration and his downright fatigue. After two long days and nights trying to account for the safety of his extended family amid earthquake and tsunami devastation in Japan, you could see it on his face. 
“I feel powerless and not able to do anything,” Saito said. “Being away from my family, it’s very tough.” 
General manager Doug Melvin and manager Ron Roenicke have told Saito he is free to leave the team to return home to Japan if necessary. His wife and three daughters are safe in Yokohama, south of the area devastated by the largest earthquake ever recorded in Japan, but his parents, brothers and other extended family members are in Sendai, the city north of Tokyo hardest hit. By midday Friday, Saito was sure that everybody was alive, but little else. 
Saito wants to evacuate his family from Sendai, but communication is next to impossible. If he does travel home to Japan, he might not be able to get to his family. 
“I’m not sure what my next best decision is,” he said through translator Kosuke Inaji, whose own extended family is safe on Japan’s western coast. 
Information has been painfully hard to come by. Saito learned about the earthquake late Thursday night in Phoenix. He was able to reach his wife, Yukiko, and their three daughters, 16, 13 and 15 months, in Yokohama, where Saito lives in the offseason. His wife and girls have been experiencing some of the aftershocks that have rattled Japan in the days since the big hit. 
“I heard that they are safe, but I don’t really know what they need or what they are missing,” Saito said. “I don’t know anything about that.” 
He does know one thing. 
“I could tell they are really scared,” Saito said, his eyes down. 
It’s his extended family that has Saito really worried. His parents, two older brothers and a number of aunts, uncles and cousins live on low ground in Sendai, the city north of Tokyo hit hardest by the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and the tsunami that followed.
Most of Saito’s family is together, at one of his brother’s house. But there is no electricity, and when he finally received a call from his oldest brother at 6 a.m. MST, the conversation lasted for only five minutes of battery life. 
“All I know is they are alive,” Saito said. 
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Great news for Saito

Just got word from Brewers spokesperson Mike Vassallo that reliever Takashi Saito had reached an uncle in Japan, who reported that all of the right-hander’s extended family was safe and accounted for. 

The Brewers expect to hear later today from Saito about his plan for re-joining camp. As of midday Friday, he was not sure whether he’d need to return home to Japan for any reason.
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If necessary, Saito free to return home

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said he had already discussed with general manager Doug Melvin the possibility that Takashi Saito would have to return home to Japan, where a huge earthquake struck near his hometown Friday. The baseball implications of Friday’s disaster were low on the list of priorities of club officials concerned for Saito’s extended family. 
“I don’t really want to think about that right now,” Roenicke said.
Roenicke spoke to Saito early Friday morning before the reliever left to wait for word from loved ones. He had already reached his wife, who was safe with their three children on higher ground. But Roenicke said Saito was unable to reach his parents and other family members who live on low ground near Sendai, a Pacific coast city hit especially hard by high waves.
“He’s obviously concerned, pretty upset about what happened,” Roenicke said. “He went back to his place here [in Phoenix] … to try to sit by his phone and see if he got any more information.” 
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Fielder to Saito: Take your time

Here’s what Prince Fielder had to say about Takashi Saito, who left camp this morning to gather information about family in earthquake-ravaged Japan:
“We love that guy, and we obviously wish him the best,” Fielder said. “He was able to contact his wife and kids, which is awesome. That’s a little bit of pressure off your chest. I wish him the best, and I hope he just takes his time and does whatever he needs to do to make sure the rest of his family alright. This [baseball] is secondary right now. We’re going to be fine. He needs to make sure everything is all right.”
Fielder knows the area hit by Friday’s earthquake well because he visited Japan during the offseason as part of a Major League Baseball goodwill tour. 
Saito is a favorite of Fielder’s oldest son, Jadyn, who is a regular at Maryvale Baseball Park. One recent morning, Saito provided sound effects while Jadyn played with action figures. 
By the way, I’m told that Saito’s translator, Kosuke Inaji, also has extended family in Japan but that they live on the country’s west coast, away from the worst of the damage.
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Saito leaves camp

The massive earthquake that struck Japan on Friday devastated areas of Miyagi Prefecture, an area north of Tokyo and the home of Brewers reliever Takashi Saito. 

Saito has already been able to reach his wife, Yukiko, and three daughters, according to the Brewers, but has been unable to reach his parents. Early Friday morning, he asked permission to leave Brewers camp to work on contacting loved ones back home. 

Saito was not scheduled to pitch today, according to the club. He last appeared in a game on March 8, and has been following a slightly different schedule than other relievers because he finished last year with a shoulder injury.
Obviously, Saito’s thoughts will be with his family, friends and countrymen today and ours are, too.
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Extra caution with Weeks

Considering how many other players have been bitten by injuries in Brewers camp, you can’t blame the club for playing it very safe with second baseman Rickie Weeks.
Weeks has been getting treatment for a tight groin and played only two innings Thursday after taking the previous two days off. Manager Ron Roenicke said there was no setback, but he was just being cautious. 
“He’s fine, and Rickie says, ‘No problem,’ but the trainer said if you can get him out early, let’s get him out early,” Roenicke said. “He’s fine. I don’t want any more injuries. … Rickie is not going to play easy. So if I tell Rickie to go out there and, hey, just don’t run hard, it’s not going to happen.” 
Weeks will probably be off Friday before playing again Saturday against the D-backs, Roenicke said. 
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Tough day for Betancourt

Brewers shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt played right into his scouting report Thursday, committing a pair of throwing errors in the Brewers’ 9-8 loss to the Rockies. The second of his miscues led to an unearned run that loomed large considering the final score.
In the third inning, Betancourt had plenty of time to throw over to retire Rockies pitcher Esmil Rogers but fired high. In the sixth inning, he came in for a soft grounder by pinch-hitter Matt Pagnozzi and, instead of setting to throw, whipped an off-balance toss wide of first base.
“He just didn’t plant his feet and throw,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “Hey, I may think it’s done a certain way, but you see guys all the time that do that. It’s not like nobody else does it. Everybody wants to throw on the run now.”
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Gallardo gets Opening Day start

No surprise here: Yovani Gallardo will be the Brewers’ Opening Day starter for the second straight season. 
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke made it official on Thursday that Gallardo will pitch the team’s March 31 opener in Cincinnati. The choice had been widely expected since the news earlier this week that Zack Greinke would begin the year on the disabled list with a cracked rib. 
Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf will pitch the final two games of the season-opening series against the Reds in that order, and left-hander Chris Narveson will handle the April 4 home opener against the Braves. 
“I don’t want to say we lost our ace and now Gallardo’s going in, because Gallardo was also our ace,” Roenicke said. “He was excited. He doesn’t get excited like the other guys, but he had a grin on his face and he was happy on it.” 
Gallardo, 25, also started the team’s 2010 opener and lost to Ubaldo Jimenez and the Rockies. Gallardo worked seven innings that day and allowed three earned runs, a quality start to a season in which he’d go 14-7 with a 3.84 ERA and make his first National League All-Star team. 
Until Greinke was hurt in an early-Spring Training pick-up basketball game, Roenicke faced something of a dilemma with the Opening Day honor. On one hand there was Gallardo, the incumbent and a home-grown Brewer, but on the other hand was Greinke, the team’s prized off-season pick-up and 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner. Greinke was probably the favorite for the opener even after he took a spill on the basketball court, but after making two spring starts with sore ribs he underwent an MRI scan that revealed a hairline fracture of the seventh rib on his left side and a bruise on his eighth rib. 
The Brewers’ season-opening series is March 31-April 3, with an off-day built into the schedule in case of an Opening Day rainout. Then the Brewers return home for a seven-game homestand, beginning with four-game series against the Braves at Miller Park. 
When Greinke was still in the mix, Roenicke toyed the idea of splitting the two left-handers — Wolf and Narveson. But with only four healthy starters, the schedule did it for him, at for the first two series against the Reds and Braves. Wolf and Narveson will face the Cubs in back-to-back games April 8-9. 
“They’re different-type lefties, so it’s not like you’re throwing the same prototype out there again,” Roenicke said. 
Roenicke said the club considered several options that would have had someone else working the home opener but in the end felt comfortable with Narveson, who is entering a Major League season as a member of the starting rotation for the first time. He was 12-9 with a 4.99 ERA in 28 starts and nine relief appearances last season. 
“It’s an important game to us,” Roenicke said. “We feel comfortable with ‘Narvey’ doing the [home] opener. He’s not going to be rattled.” 
The Brewers will need a fifth starter on April 5 or 6, depending on whether Gallardo comes back on regular rest for his second regular-season start or takes an extra day. For now, that fifth man is a mystery, though the Brewers are leaning toward picking from a pool that includes prospects Mark Rogers, Wily Peralta and Amaury Rivas. 
Because of off-days, the club could get through the first week of the season using a fifth starter only three times — April 6, 16 and 26.
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Champ visits Brewers camp

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Scott Paulus/Brewers
Brewers players and coaches got a treat Wednesday morning when boxing legend Muhammad Ali visited Maryvale Baseball Park. 
The visit was coordinated by the Brewers Community Foundation and Athletes for Hope, a nonprofit founded in 2007 by an elite group of philanthropic athletes who inspire other pros to find a charitable cause and support it.  Ali’s wife, Lonnie, addressed the team before players and coaches posed for photos with the champ. 
“His wife said this, that with the personality that he had, he’s recognized around the world maybe more than any other person,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “[Players] are all getting their photos. Hey, this guy was incredible.” 
Here are some more images from team photographer Scott Paulus. Look for some video of the visit later on Brewers.com.
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Thanks to Scott Paulus for the shots. That’s Ali’s wife, Lonnie, in the orange blouse, watching Ron Roenicke present Ali with a Brewers jersey. And, of course, Hall of Famer Robin Yount shaking Ali’s hand in the final photo.
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