Brewers nearing decision on Gorzelanny

Brewers left-hander Tom Gorzelanny faced what assistant GM Gord Ash called a “pivotal” outing in his Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Friday, when he started for Triple-A Nashville ahead of top prospect Jimmy Nelson, who was scheduled to follow Gorzelanny’s 35 pitches.

Gorzelanny is still trying to get back from a December shoulder surgery and the Brewers wanted to see him in an extended, controlled outing. Hence, it made sense to have him go first and Nelson second.

“Because Tom is going to go more pitches than he has before, as you said, stretch out, we didn’t want to get into a situation where you didn’t really know how much game you needed left to accommodate his 35 pitches,” Ash said. “If you took Nelson out in the sixth to give [Gorzelanny] three innings for his 35, you don’t know. It’s just easier to do it this way to accommodate both of them and what they need to do.”

How has Gorzelanny been throwing the ball?

“I would respond to that by saying he’s still there,” Ash said.

Gorzelanny’s 30-day rehab assignment expires Thursday. His ERA in eight Minor League appearances so far looks good — 1.54 — but Ash said Gorzelanny’s varying velocities have been worrisome. He has reached 90 mph, “but it’s been inconsistent.”

“Tonight will be pivotal,” Ash said. “Depending on what he does and shows tonight, we’ll have to make some decisions.”

What are the options?

“Well, he’s continued to still report some stiffness, and if he continues to report that, the ability not to get loose, then we’ll have to bring him back from the rehab and just leave him on the DL for a while,” Ash said. “The goal, obviously, is to get him [back on the active roster]. With his experience, we could use him. But if he’s not physically right, we’re going to have to look at the alternatives, which is to recall him from rehab and keep him on the DL. Tonight will answer that.”

If a doctor certifies that Gorzelanny’s shoulder remains unhealthy or has been re-injured, he can be sent on another rehab assignment when he gets healthy.

“You get to start the clock over again, essentially,” Ash said.

 Other topics that came up in a dugout discussion with the Brewers’ assistant GM: 

– With Day 1 of the First-Year Player Draft in the books, free agent Kendrys Morales is now truly free to sign with any team, without costing that club a Draft pick. The Brewers have been linked to Morales, and Ash was asked to characterize the club’s interest.

“There’s certainly been discussions, but I wouldn’t say there’s been any resolution to those discussions,” Ash said. “It’s just part of exploring options and players that can help us.”

Three factors work against a union between Morales and the Brewers:

1. Position. Because they are in the National League, he could not serve as designated hitter on a regular basis, as he has done since suffering a terrible left ankle injury celebrating a winning grand slam in 2010.  Some scouts question his mobility and durability at first base because of lingering effects from that injury. In other words, would taking a hit defensively be worth the boost from Morales’ bat?

2. Cost. There’s been some chatter that Morales may seek a multi-year contract.

3. Chemistry. The Brewers have been in first base all season, and incumbent first basemen Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay are two of the most popular veterans on the team. Chuckle at this if you want, but it’s at least a small part of the debate.

– Another reliever, Jim Henderson, is beginning to ramp back up after a setback on his rehab assignment two weeks ago.

“He did some plyo work yesterday and reported feeling much better on the first day this time than on the first day last time,” Ash said. “So we’ll look at that as progress.”

– Speaking of progress, Jeremy Jeffress is pitching well at Triple-A Nashville. The Brewers re-signed the former first round Draft pick to a Minor League deal in April, and you can read the backstory here.

He has a 1.71 ERA in 14 games for Nashville.

“He had one bad outing where he got wild, but all the rest of them have been very good,” Ash said. “He’s been in control. He’s been used in good situations. I think he’s in a good place mentally. So yeah, he’s done well.”

Is he working his way into discussions about a call-up, should the Brewers find themselves in need of relief help?

“I can tell you with certainty that almost every player on the Triple-A club gets talked about one way or another,” Ash said. “When we brought up [utility man Irving] Falu last time, we talked about a whole bunch of guys. If and when we need to make a pitching move, they all get talked about. We have regular sessions, we do once a month conference calls with all of our Minor League clubs and regular conference calls with all of our rovers, so there’s a lot of input on what they’re doing and how they’re performing. In fact, I talked several times with [Sounds manager] Rick Sweet today.

“They’ve all got great physical [tools]. [Dustin] Molleken does, [Arcenio] Leon does, Jeffress does, [Michael] Blazek does. They’ve all got great physical tools. What’s keeping them from being in the big leagues is consistency. They still struggle with that.”

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Day 1 Draft roundup

The Brewers swung for the fences on Day 1 of the First-Year Player Draft, selecting three high-ceiling high schoolers with picks No. 12, 41 and 50. Here’s a rundown of the coverage over at Brewers.com:

First round, No. 12 overall: LHP Kodi Medeiros

No, Medeiros did not touch 97 mph during a workout last week at Miller Park, as Medeiros himself had heard. But he was impressive, showing a low- to mid-90s fastball with terrific movement and cementing the Brewers’ desire to make him the highest left-handed pitcher drafted in franchise history, and the highest-ever Draft pick born in Hawaii.

“He just came here and emphasized that he was a guy we were really high on,” Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid said. “No one ever said the workout was the end-all, but it certainly was the exclamation point.”

Medeiros is represented by adviser David Matranga and committed to Pepperdine University if he does not sign with the Brewers, but the slot value assigned the 12th overall is significant: $2,805,700.

“It’s just a dream come true,” Medeiros said at MLB Network’s studios in Secaucus, N.J., where he attended the Draft. “All the hard work and sacrifices and all the help from my family and my brother and everyone else who helped me along the way. It just paid off.”

Some scouting reports project Medeiros as a reliever because of his low arm angle and Will Smith-like slider, but Seid and Brewers GM Doug Melvin said they’ll introduce him to the system as a starter.

First round supplemental, No. 41 overall: SS Jacob Gatewood

The 6-foot-5 Californian joins an impressive list of shortstops drafted by the Brewers before the start of the second round (scroll down at the link), from Robin Yount to Gary Sheffield. Both wound up playing other positions in the Major Leagues, and so could Gatewood, who has an impressive arm and an impressive bat.

“I feel like I need to try to become more of an overall better hitter, hit for average as well as for power, because I know my power’s there and the more consistent I make contact the better my power’s going to play in the game,” Gatewood said. “Obviously, if I get a chance to play shortstop, I need to work as hard as I can to stay there. I know it’s not going to be easy being my height, but I know it’s possible since there’s guys that have done it before. That’s all I need to know, that it’s possible.”

He is being advised by Danny Lozano and is committed to USC if he doesn’t sign with the Brewers. The 41st overall pick has an assigned slot value of $1,384,900.

Second round, No. 50 overall: OF Monte Harrison

The Missouri multi-sport star is committed to playing baseball and football at the University of Nebraska, and is just as promising in both sports. The Brewers know he will need some convincing.

“We know it’s going to be probably a tougher sign,” Seid said, “but at the same time, you have to take opportunities like this. If we can make it work, we’ll make it work.”

Agent Rob Martin is advising Harrison, who attended Thursday’s Draft in person but had departed MLB Network studios before slipping to the Brewers in the second round. Major League Baseball assigned a slot value of $1,100,300 to the 50th overall pick.

The Kansas City Star ran a terrific story about Harrison earlier this week, detailing his football ambitions and how he got into athletics in the first place, following the death of his father 12 years ago. The story is well worth a read, and ends like this:

When it comes to his future, Harrison isn’t giving anything away. He refuses to discuss the draft with even his closest friends.

A week before Lee’s Summit West lost in the Class 5 postseason, Harrison arrived at practice an hour early, took a seat atop the dugout bench and stared out toward the baseball diamond. In the midst of a year in which he can’t escape the constant calls, text messages and letters, he has come to appreciate these quieter moments.

“I could see myself doing this,” he says, breaking the silence.

And spurning Nebraska?

Harrison smiles.

“I guess you’re just going to have to wait and see.”

The same goes for all of the Brewers picks in the First-Year Player Draft, which continues Friday with Rounds 3-10 and Saturday with Rounds 11-40. Look to Brewers.com and MLB.com for full coverage, scouting reports and video, and follow associate reporter @CaitlinSwieca on Twitter for details about the Brewers’ selections while I cover the Brewers in Pittsburgh.

Teams have until July 18 to sign their selections.

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Brewers make lefty Medeiros their first-round pick

The Brewers added to their growing stable of pitching prospects by selecting prep left-hander Kodi Medeiros with the 12th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft on Thursday.

Medeiros, who hails from Hawaii and reportedly dazzled Brewers scouts in a workout at Miller Park last week, was Milwaukee’s highest draft pick since the team took right-hander Taylor Jungmann at No. 12 in 2011. It marks the second straight season that the Brewers used their top pick on a high school arm.

“It’s just a dream come true,” Medeiros said at MLB Network’s studios, where he attended the Draft in person. “All the hard work and sacrifices and all the help from my family and my brother and everyone else who helped me along the way. It just paid off.”

The hard work included a showcase at Miller Park one week earlier, where Medeiros touched 97 mph, according to MLB.com Draft guru Jonathan Mayo, and generally impressed Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid and his staff.

He also met with Brewers officials in Arizona.

“It was really great to see other potential draft picks at Milwaukee,” Medeiros told the newspaper West Hawaii Today for a pre-Draft story. “One scout said I touched 97 mph. I’m happy about that. Miller Park is a pretty cool stadium to pitch in as well. In Arizona, I met with the scouting director, and he gave me a tour of the Spring Training complex for the minors and majors. It’s pretty incredible.”

According to that story, Medeiros measured 6-foot-2 and weighed 196 pounds, slightly higher than other sources list him. He throws from a low arm slot and has notable movement on his fastball.

“He cannot throw a fastball straight,” said MLB Network analyst Jon Hart. “Some people question start/relief. I don’t. I like this guy as a starter.”

In his senior season at Waiakea High School, Medeiros was 7-1 with a 0.97 ERA in 43 1/3 innings. He walked 15 batters and struck out 83. He is committed to Pepperdine University if he does not sign with the Brewers, but the slot value assigned the 12th overall is significant: $2,805,700.

Medeiros was the first of three Brewers selections on Day 1 of the Draft.

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com pregame show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 12 p.m. CT.

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Ramirez says he’s ready to go

The potent Milwaukee lineup will get a boost on Wednesday, when third baseman Aramis Ramirez is expected to be activated from the disabled list.

Ramirez has been sidelined for three weeks with a strained left hamstring but says he feels ready to go following a two-day rehab stint with the Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Ramirez went 2-for-6 over two games and played four innings at third base on Sunday before he left the game after a rain delay.

Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said the scouting report from his son, Wisconsin coach Lance Roenicke, was positive.

“He said he swing the bat really good yesterday,” Roenicke said. “The first day, his timing was a little off. Yesterday was good. The last ball he hit, he hit a bullet to first base, which tells you he’s really staying back on the ball, seeing the ball well. He said he moved around a lot, so [those are] good signs.”

Ramirez and Roenicke confirmed that he would be used as a designated hitter on Wednesday and the team would reevaluate after that. Ramirez went through pregame activities with the Brewers on Tuesday and said that playing DH would allow him to play nine full innings on his first day back.

“I don’t want to [come out of the game early], and that’s one of the reasons I went to rehab,” Ramirez said. “I didn’t want to play five innings and leave. With the DH I can play the whole game, and when I play the field, it’s going to be nine innings.”

Roenicke said he knew where he would slot Ramirez in the lineup but wouldn’t say where. Though Ramirez has not been in the starting lineup in any position other than third or fourth since joining the Brewers in 2012, he said he was open to moving elsewhere now that Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez have been productive in the third and fourth spots, respectively.

“I usually hit third and fourth in Chicago, and since I’ve been here I’ve hit fourth, but it doesn’t really matter,” Ramirez said. “The bottom line is winning games, and the first four guys in the lineup, ‘Siggy’ [Jean Segura], ‘Brauny,’ and ‘Luc’ and then Gomez, they’re doing a pretty good job, so there’s no reason for us to change the lineup.”

– Caitlin Swieca

 

Lucroy, Gomez up, Braun down in latest ASG update

Ryan Braun fell from third to sixth in the latest round of All-Star Game balloting results released by Major League Baseball on Tuesday, but some of his Brewers teammates made gains. Here’s the latest data:

2014 NATIONAL LEAGUE ALL-STAR BALLOTING UPDATE #2

Tuesday, June 3

First Basemen   Catchers
# Player Club Votes   # Player Club Votes
Adrian Gonzalez Dodgers 647,826   Yadier Molina Cardinals 1,210,579
Justin Morneau Rockies 525,614   Buster Posey Giants 766,356
Freddie Freeman Braves 511,177   Jonathan Lucroy Brewers 522,310
Paul Goldschmidt D-backs 490,659   Evan Gattis Braves 388,548
Brandon Belt Giants 421,900   Devin Mesoraco Reds 258,528
                 
Second Basemen   Outfielders
# Player Club Votes   # Player Club Votes
Chase Utley Phillies 974,196   Yasiel Puig Dodgers 935,276
Dee Gordon Dodgers 530,289   Charlie Blackmon Rockies 883,186
Neil Walker Pirates 365,050   Giancarlo Stanton Marlins 863,307
Brandon Phillips Reds 304,541   Andrew McCutchen Pirates 823,862
Daniel Murphy Mets 298,611   Carlos Gomez Brewers 819,385
          Ryan Braun Brewers 750,672
Third Basemen   Justin Upton Braves 556,305
# Player Club Votes   Angel Pagan Giants 536,006
Nolan Arenado Rockies 590,745   Mike Morse Giants 501,711
David Wright Mets 565,982   Hunter Pence Giants 463,266
Aramis Ramirez Brewers 472,321   Matt Holliday Cardinals 406,720
Pablo Sandoval Giants 463,050   Michael Cuddyer Rockies 357,277
Juan Uribe Dodgers 436,776   Carlos Gonzalez Rockies 332,600
          Khris Davis Brewers 329,744
Shortstops   Bryce Harper Nationals 314,860
# Player Club Votes          
Troy Tulowitzki Rockies 1,419,718  
Brandon Crawford Giants 446,937    
Jean Segura Brewers 403,259  
Hanley Ramirez Dodgers 366,355  
Jhonny Peralta Cardinals 347,854  
       

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Molitor: ‘Humbling thing’ to see retired number

paul-molitorIt’s been 15 years since the Brewers retired Paul Molitor’s No. 4, but he still gets goosebumps seeing his name and number hanging from the rafters.

Molitor returned Monday with the Minnesota Twins, for whom he’s in the first season of a second stint as a coach. It was his first working visit to Miller Park since he served as Mariners hitting coach in 2004.

“It’s always going to rekindle a very positive chapter of my life, living here basically full-time for 15 years,” Molitor said. “A lot of really good friendships and a lot of really good memories. Obviously there’s been major changes, from ownership to personnel — other than ‘Ueck.’ He’s the mainstay.”

Bob Uecker was already a fixture on the Brewers Radio Network when the Brewers made Molitor the third pick in the 1977 Draft. He was in the big leagues the following year because of an injury to Robin Yount, and went on to play the first 15 of his 21 Major League seasons in a Brewers uniform. When Molitor was inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004, he was the second player (after Yount) to enter wearing a Brewers cap.

Molitor’s early returns to Milwaukee, first with the Blue Jays and then the Twins, were somewhat acrimonious because of circumstances surrounding his free agent departure in 1992. But he has been embraced in the city since his number retirement ceremony in June 1999, appearing from time to time at Brewers events.

Today, Molitor’s name and No. 4 hang high above right field at Miller Park, next to Uecker and Yount. Similar odes to Hank Aaron, Rollie Fingers and Jackie Robinson are in left field.

“It still kind of sends goosebumps down your spine to have the organization recognize you in that fashion with the other elite players who have the privilege of being up there,” Molitor said. “You watch Brewers highlights and when someone hits a majestic home run, they usually catch the names in the background.

“Last year, one of our young players, Pedro Florimon, going out on the field here for the first time, he looked up there and asked one of the coaches, ‘Molitor? Paul Molitor? He played?’ So it gives you an idea of the generation to generation and how things change. It’s a good humbling thing. Certainly it’s an honor to be up there.”

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Brewers mulling merits of pitcher batting eighth

With Ryan Braun having success since a move up to the two-hole, Brewers coaches have been debating batting the pitcher eighth, and manager Ron Roenicke left open the possibility of giving it a try if the offense cools from its current red-hot state.

“It has been discussed for the past four or five days [and] there is merit to it,” Roenicke said. “It depends on your personnel, really on who is hitting first and second for you, and who is going to hit ninth, and it’s important who is hitting seventh.

“If you have all the right pieces, it makes a ton of sense. If you have an on-base guy [seventh] so you can get through the pitcher eighth, and you have a ninth hitter who is an on-base guy to get on base for what would have to be strong 1-2-3 hitters, it makes a ton of sense. That’s kind of what we have.”

Or rather, it’s what the Brewers will have when third baseman Aramis Ramirez returns from the disabled list, which could happen as early as Tuesday.

Ramirez’s return could allow Roenicke to re-install Carlos Gomez to the leadoff spot, with Braun second and catcher Jonathan Lucroy third. First basemen Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay would be the likely candidates for the seven-hole, and second basemen Scooter Gennett and Rickie Weeks could hit ninth, theoretically getting on base to give Gomez and Braun more opportunities to drive in runs.

Roenicke was clear that he would not disrupt the Brewers’ current hot streak. The team entered Saturday with at least 10 hits in nine consecutive games, matching a franchise record.

“The personnel dictates what happens,” Roenicke said. “I was telling them in Anaheim in 2000, when [Darin] Erstad … drove in 100 runs from the leadoff spot, we had Orlando Palmeiro, who was a really good on-base guy. And we hit him ninth. He probably should have hit up farther than that, but we hit him ninth, trying to get guys on for Erstad.”

Former Brewers manager Ned Yost batted his pitchers eighth for part of 2008, when catcher Jason Kendall hit ninth. Yost eventually dropped the idea.

Asked to guess the odds he’ll try it when Ramirez returns, Roenicke said, “I don’t know. We have to discuss it more and figure out what we’re doing with Gomez, figure out what we’re doing with [Jean] Segura. And not just while we’re hot here, because while we’re hot I’ll [continue] doing it this way [with Segura leading off and Gomez hitting cleanup]. We’re talking about where we see it in a month from now. If it makes sense, we’ll try it.”

Braun, for his part, has adjusted nicely to batting second.

“I like it. It’s good,” Braun said. “I don’t think you change anything now, we’re swinging the bats so well. Since we’ve gone with this alignment in the lineup, we’ve been really successful and there’s no reason to change anything.

“It’s the same thing. Obviously, I have a few less RBI opportunities unless we eventually go to the pitcher eight and somebody else ninth, which we’ve discussed, too. We’ll see. The more at-bats you get for your best hitters, the better off you’ll be over the course of a season. For me, it’s just about creating runs, whether I’m on base to score the runs or able to drive guys in.”

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Braun back among ASG contenders

2014-mlb-all-star-game-logoRyan Braun was back in contention for an All-Star Game start when Major League Baseball released a first round of fan balloting figures for the National League on Wednesday.

Braun, who made five straight All-Star teams from 2008-2012 before missing the cut during his injury- and suspension-marred 2013 season, is running third among NL outfielders with 446,780 votes from in-stadium and online ballots, trailing Charlie Blackmon of the Rockies (549,394 votes) and Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates (467,378 votes). Another Brewers outfielder, Carlos Gomez, was sixth with 370,630 votes.

The top three vote-getters among outfielders will be elected starters to the 2014 All-Star Game, to be played at Target Field in Minneapolis on Tuesday, July 15.

Other Brewers contenders included Aramis Ramirez, who is running second among NL third basemen with 282,843 votes despite a current stint on the disabled list. Ramirez trails the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado, who has 318,111 votes.

Jonathan Lucroy ranked fourth among catchers and Jean Segura was running fifth among shortstops. The leader at shortstop was the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki, who led all NL players with 745,823 votes.

Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites — online or on a mobile device — using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Fans may submit up to 25 online ballots, but they can also earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, register on the site in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.

The 2014 All-Star teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5-6, with further details to follow on MLB.com. The AL will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the NL will have eight fan-elected starters. Pitchers and reserves for both squads — totaling 25 for the NL and 24 for the AL — will be determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by All-Star managers Mike Matheny (NL) and John Farrell (AL).

Immediately following the announcement of the rosters, you can select the final player for each league’s 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Choose again at that point from among five players in each league. The Final Vote returns for its 13th season with more than 430 million votes cast to date, and you’ll be able to make selections on MLB.com, club sites and your mobile device.

You’ll be on a voting tear at that point, having already selected starters and the last men, and the ritual will not end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the big game, vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi. The fan voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.

The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International’s independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Here are the current figures at each position:

First Basemen   Catchers
# Player Club Votes   # Player Club Votes
Adrian Gonzalez Dodgers 349,762   Yadier Molina Cardinals 640,464
Freddie Freeman Braves 308,961   Buster Posey Giants 421,100
Justin Morneau Rockies 305,327   Evan Gattis Braves 241,005
Brandon Belt Giants 228,547   Jonathan Lucroy Brewers 236,935
Paul Goldschmidt D-backs 227,854   Devin Mesoraco Reds 154,489
                 
Second Basemen   Outfielders
# Player Club Votes   # Player Club Votes
Chase Utley Phillies 509,390   Charlie Blackmon Rockies 549,394
Dee Gordon Dodgers 304,258   Andrew McCutchen Pirates 467,378
Brandon Phillips Reds 187,067   Ryan Braun Brewers 446,780
Anthony Rendon Nationals 183,600   Giancarlo Stanton Marlins 426,228
Neil Walker Pirates 159,205   Yasiel Puig Dodgers 383,384
          Carlos Gomez Brewers 370,630
Third Basemen   Justin Upton Braves 312,574
# Player Club Votes   Angel Pagan Giants 287,338
Nolan Arenado Rockies 318,111   Mike Morse Giants 257,477
Aramis Ramirez Brewers 282,843   Hunter Pence Giants 221,604
David Wright Mets 278,840   Matt Holliday Cardinals 212,763
Juan Uribe Dodgers 270,425   Bryce Harper Nationals 211,565
Pablo Sandoval Giants 210,473   Carlos Gonzalez Rockies 207,875
          Michael Cuddyer Rockies 193,980
Shortstops   Matt Kemp Dodgers 162,681
# Player Club Votes          
Troy Tulowitzki Rockies 745,823  
Brandon Crawford Giants 218,123    
Andrelton Simmons Braves 207,402  
Hanley Ramirez Dodgers 206,866  
Jean Segura Brewers 202,597  
         

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With Ramirez DL-bound, Brewers mull options

Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez’s strained left hamstring will send him to the disabled list before Tuesday’s game against the Pirates, but club officials were still discussing options Sunday morning for a corresponding roster move — or moves.

The outcome will depend on whether right fielder Ryan Braun ready to return from a stint on the DL for a right rib-cage strain. Braun took full batting practice again Sunday morning, but the Brewers would like to see him play a Minor League game before making a formal move. Weather worries at Class A Wisconsin on Monday and travel challenges for the other affiliates complicated that desire.

If they cannot get Braun to an affiliate, there still exists the possibility that the Brewers will roll the dice and activate him Tuesday when Ramirez hits the DL.

“Yeah, if that’s what it comes down to, that’s what we talked about,” Roenicke said.

In that scenario, Mark Reynolds and Jeff Bianchi could fill-in at third base during Ramirez’s absence.

But if Braun needs more time, the Brewers would have to call-up utility man Elian Herrera from Triple-A Nashville. The switch-hitter has already played a stint in the big leagues this season.

Further complicating matters is the uncertain status of center fielder Carlos Gomez, who had an appeal hearing for his three-game suspension on Friday. The Brewers anticipate a ruling from Major League Baseball on Monday or Tuesday, and even if Braun is back, the team may consider adding Herrera to help fill the lineup with right-handed bats against left-handed Pirates pitchers on Wednesday and Thursday.

All of the personnel shuffling gave Roenicke an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu on Sunday. Last season, he routinely scrambled to fill out a lineup card because of injuries to key, middle-of-the-order hitters.

“When I was writing up the lineup today, yes,” Roenicke said when asked about the comparison. “It was a tough one today.”

Still, for all their issues, the Brewers entered the day with a 23-14 record and a five-game lead in the National League Central.

“It’s huge, health is huge,” Roenicke said. “We’ll get through this period, hopefully get everybody the same time, but we got to get through this period playing good baseball. Our pitching I think is good enough to do that. We’ve just got to figure out with scrapping some runs. Hopefully, we get through it.”

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Weeks says no to left field

With left fielder Khris Davis struggling at the plate and Rickie Weeks’ bat beginning to heat up on the bench, Brewers officials recently asked Weeks whether he would consider trying the outfield.

Weeks declined.

“I’m a second baseman,” he told reporters. “I feel like right now, I should be playing second base.”

Asked whether his stance was final, or whether the promise of more playing time as a left fielder might change his mind, Weeks said, “Like I said, right now, I’m a second baseman.”

Weeks is the right-handed-hitting half of the Brewers’ second base platoon with lefty swinger Scooter Gennett, who has been getting the vast majority of starts because so many pitchers are right-handed. Weeks on Saturday made his first start at second base since April 25 26 because a left-hander — CC Sabatha — was on the mound for the Yankees.

During the winter, Brewers officials knew they had a challenging situation at second base because both Weeks, who is due $11 this season in the final year of his contract, and Gennett, who came on last season after Weeks suffered a torn hamstring, are limited to that one position. They discussed then whether Weeks might work in the outfield or at first base, but opted to sign veterans Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay to share first base duties, and installed Davis, who had played admirably last year in place of a suspended Ryan Braun, in left field.

Second base was to begin as a straight platoon between Weeks and Gennett, Roenicke said, though performance could eventually change that. Gennett entered Saturday batting .284 with a .320 on-base percentage in 116 at-bats, and Weeks batting .257 with a .333 on-base percentage in 35 at-bats, mostly off the bench.

Weeks numbers have been boosted by three hits and two walks in his last five pinch-hit plate appearances.

“It’s not that easy to just put somebody in the outfield,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said in Weeks’ defense. “We did it so much last year, trying to switch guys around in Spring Training, that we had a discussion with Doug and tried to not do that as much as we did the year before. Try to keep guys in their position more so we could get a better defensive job out of one position.

“It’s hard when you’re moving guys everywhere and then you expect them to be really good defensively. I think that’s what we got into last year, so we tried to stay away from it this year.”

But Roenicke and other decision-makers have reconsidered that philosophy in light of Davis’ recent troubles. He entered Saturday batting .169 with a .180 OBP over his previous 15 games.

Asked what they would do if Davis does not begin showing signs of progress, Roenicke said. “We’ll have to figure out something. We’ll have to do something.”

A left field platoon is possible, Roenicke said, with Logan Schafer and Caleb Gindl currently available as left-handed-hitting options.

“We’ve already had discussions on it, but there will be a time when we need to make a move if things continue,” Roenicke said.

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