Results tagged ‘ Alcides Escobar ’

Gamel gets a start

Mat Gamel is making his first start today since returning to the Brewers for September as the team aims to split its four-game series with the Cubs. He’ll team on the left side of the infield with Alcides Escobar, a potential preview of 2010 if the Brewers decide against using J.J. Hardy at shortstop and Casey McGehee at third.

(Remember J.J. Hardy? Used to wear No. 7 for the Brewers? Tough to find playing time for him if Escobar is going to have games like last night — 4-for-5, three RBIs, two defensive gems.)

Felipe Lopez  2B
Jody Gerut  RF
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Mike Cameron  CF
Mat Gamel  3B
Mike Rivera  C
Alcides Escobar SS
Dave Bush  RHP

Speaking of Escobar’s big Wednesday night, here’s a note from Brewers PR boss Mike Vassallo: The last four rookies to have four-hit games at Wrigley Field are all Brewers. Escobar and Casey McGehee this season, Braun in 2007 and Alex Sanchez in 2002.

Tidbits: Rotation, McClung/Colome, Parra, Escobar, Hart

Some tidbits from manager Ken Macha’s pregame chat with reporters:

– Macha will announce his probable pitchers for the upcoming St. Louis series on Sunday. He’s considering ways to monitor right-hander Yovani Gallardo’s workload, but bumping him back a day in this case would mean Gallardo would miss the series against the Cardinals. Since the Brewers still publicly consider themselves contenders, that would be a tough move.

“Maybe some guys will get extra time and some guys won’t,” Macha said.

– Injured relievers Seth McClung (elbow) and Jesus Colome (forearm) are scheduled to throw 30-pitch bullpen sessions on Sunday morning. McClung has been on the disabled list since July 25 and is trying to rehab his elbow without succombing to a second career Tommy John surgery.

– Left-hander Manny Parra is introducing a cut fastball to his array of pitches, Macha said. It’s a work in progress; Pittsburgh’s Steve Pearce hit one Friday for a two-run double.
Macha offered some words of support for Parra, who is 6-2 over his last nine starts despite a 6.49 ERA and a .341 opponents’ batting average.

“He does have nine wins, and he has a chance to get into the teens,
too,” Macha said. “Everybody has hopes for him to take a couple steps
forward. But looking at the cup half-full, he has nine wins.”

– For now, Macha has scrapped batting the pitcher eighth and shortstop Alcides Escobar ninth. Escobar batted eighth on Saturday for the second straight game.

“If we’re going to have [a position] player batting ninth, he needs to get on or you don’t have any benefit from it,” Macha said.

Escobar entered the weekend with a .292 on-base percentage.

– Corey Hart, recovering from his Aug. 2 appendectomy, threw in the outfield on Saturday and took batting practice. He appears to travel with the Brewers to St. Louis next week before joining postseason-bound Double-A Huntsville for a rehabilitation assignment. The Brewers don’t yet know how many Minor League games Hart would need to be ready for the big leagues.

What the Yost? Escobar hitting ninth

Brewers manager Ken Macha is channeling his predecessor today, hitting shortstop Alcides Escobar in the nine-hole for Escobar’s first Major League start. You’ll remember that Ned Yost used a similar configuration last season, when he hit the pitcher eighth and catcher Jason Kendall ninth. The experiment was ultimately abandoned.

We’ll ask Macha for his thoughts on that move in a few minutes. For now, here are the lineups:

SAN DIEGO
Tony Gwynn CF
David Eckstein 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Chase Headley LF
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
Kyle Blanks RF
Nick Hundley C
Everth Cabrera SS
Cesar Carrillo RHP

MILWAUKEE
Felipe Lopez 2B
Craig Counsell 3B
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Mike Cameron CF
Jody Gerut RF
Mike Rivera C
Manny Parra LHP
Alcides Escobar SS

Burned-out Hardy felt demotion coming

I just got off the phone with departing Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy, who was optioned to Triple-A Nashville in a surprising move this morning and was looking forward to a few days away from baseball.

The Sounds are in Salt Lake City, so Hardy has until Friday to join the team back home in Nashville.

“Maybe I’ll come by to pick up my stuff tomorrow,” Hardy said. “I’m going to take today to relax a little bit.

“I think these next couple of days are going to be really nice. Just having three days off, that’s going to be exactly what I needed. Triple-A, whatever, I’ll go down there and do what I’m supposed to do, but I’m pretty excited about getting three days to rest.”

Was the roster move a surprise?

“I don’t know. I’ve kind of been feeling it,” Hardy said. “I’ve been feeling like all of the coaches have been staring at me and watching everything I do. It’s been uncomfortable. But it still surprises me a little bit. I think three days off would have been all I needed, and I’ve been going out there every single day and doing what they’ve asked me to do.”

Hardy conceded that he never approached manager Ken Macha and asked for a break.

“Who am I to tell Macha what the lineup should be and who should be playing?” Hardy said. “They’ve been putting me out there every day and I’ve been trying my hardest. It’s not like I haven’t been trying. I like to think of it as the equivalent of a golfer who is a five- or six handicap and they’re going out there for four straight months shooting in the 100s and they can’t figure it out.

“I think a golfer, after that, would take a week off and then come back and shoot in the 70s again. In baseball, you can’t do that. I think there’s different types of players. Some players, when they’re really struggling, they want to keep being out there to battle through it. Then, there are guys who feel they need a day or two off to slow things down. For me, I think that would have been nice.”

General manager Doug Melvin called Hardy on Wednesday morning with the news that he was heading back to the Minor Leagues for the first time since 2004. Hardy was installed as the Brewers’ everyday shortstop on Opening Day 2005.

He was a National League All-Star in 2007 and followed-up by batting a career-high .283 in 2008, but has slumped through most of a disappointing 2009 season. Hardy carried a sub-.200 batting average into May and was still down at .207 on June 15 before going on a relative hot streak. He batted .340 the rest of June, but since July 1 his average was .220.

Overall, Hardy is batting .229 this season with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs.

That wasn’t enough to hold off shortstop prospect Alcides Escobar, who was batting .298 with 42 stolen bases at Nashville.

“It’s a prolonged slump that’s lasted four months for me, and I haven’t
been able to slow it down,” Hardy said. “In the past, when I would have
a few bad games in a row, I would get a day off to slow the game down
and come back strong. It just hasn’t happened this year. A couple of
days off will be nice, and then I’ll go down [to the Minors] and do
what I need to do.”

Escobar wasn’t the only person headed to Milwaukee on Wednesday. The Brewers also designated Bill Hall for assignment and promoted outfielder Jason Bourgeois, and dismissed pitching coach Bill Castro and replaced him on an interim basis with Triple-A pitching coach Chris Bosio.

 

Crew shake-up: Castro, Hall out; Hardy optioned

MILWAUKEE — After his team lost for the 22nd time in 35 games on Tuesday night, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin apparently decided it was time for a shake-up. In a trio of decisive moves Wednesday morning, the team:

- Dismissed pitching coach Bill Castro, an 18-year veteran of the coaching staff who did not make it through his first season as pitching coach. Triple-A pitching coach Chris Bosio will replace Castro on an interim basis.

- Optioned slumping shortstop J.J. Hardy to Nashville and promoted co-top prospect Alcides Escobar to take his place.

- Announced that infielder/outfielder Bill Hall, the organization’s longest-tenured player, had been designated for assignment. Outfielder Jason Bourgeois was promoted from Nashville to replace Hall.

All three moves were likely difficult ones for Melvin, given Castro’s and Hall’s long service to the team and the fact Hardy is two years removed from an All-Star appearance. Melvin was to meet with reporters at 3 p.m. CT at Miller Park.

The GM did address Castro’s dismissal in a statement.

“We appreciate and admire the dedication and tireless work ethic put forth by Bill Castro over the last 18 seasons,” Melvin said.  “A move like this is never easy to make, especially given Bill’s longevity with the organization and considering how hard he worked to reach this position.”

Castro pitched in the Brewers organization from 1970-80, then returned to the club as a Minor League coach from 1988-91 before taking a job on the big league staff. He was the bullpen coach for six different managers from 1992-2008 before realizing a long-time goal and being named pitching coach on Nov. 7, 2008.

But injuries to Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan and inconsistencies throughout the staff have marred the Brewers’ 2009. After the team’s 13-6 loss to the weak-hitting Padres Tuesday night, the Brewers’ pitching staff ranked 27th in the Major Leagues with a 4.84 ERA while allowing a Major League-leading 151 home runs in 112 games.  The staff also issued 421 walks, fifth-most in the Majors.

Bosio, 46, was the Tampa Bay Rays’ pitching coach in 2003. He was in his first season as pitching coach at Triple-A Nashville, a staff that entered Wednesday tied for second in the Pacific Coast League in team ERA (4.05) while allowing the fourth-fewest home runs (83). 

The Brewers’ second-round Draft pick in 1982, Bosio pitched in the Majors for Milwaukee (1986-92) and Seattle (1993-96). He will wear No. 43 beginning Wednesday night.

Bosio’s won’t be the only new uniform number on Wednesday. Escobar (No. 21) and Bourgeois (No. 16) will replace two of the team’s most underachieving players.

Hardy, the subject of trade rumors virtually all season, was hitting a career-low .229 with 11 home runs and 45 RBI, including .220 with 13 RBIs since July 1. That wasn’t good enough to hold off Escobar, who was batting .298 with four home runs, 34 RBIs and 42 stolen bases in 109 games at Nashville.  He’s considered Milwaukee’s co-top prospect along with third baseman Mat Gamel  but already has a taste of the big leagues. Escobar was among Milwaukee’s September call-ups last year, then earned a spot on the playoff roster after second baseman Rickie Weeks suffered an injury.

Bourgeois is more unknown to Brewers coaches and fans because he missed much of Spring Training while recovering from a broken thumb. The right-handed hitting speedster batted .316 in 105 games at Nashville with 36 steals. He appeared in six games with the White Sox last season.

He replaces Hall, who remains stuck in a three-year slump and briefly was optioned to Nashville last month. Hall was quickly called back after Corey Hart underwent an appendectomy, and Hall went 3-for-15 in four games since his return including a start on Tuesday night in which he hit a two-run home run. Overall this season, Hall was hitting .201 with six homers and 24 RBIs.

The team has 10 days to trade Hall, release him or assign him outright to the Minors, an assignment Hall could refuse. For the first time since 2002, he is no longer on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster.

The team stands to take a major financial hit because Hall is making $6.8 million this season and is due $8.4 million in 2010 as part of the four-year, $24 million contract he signed after belting 35 home runs in 2006. The deal also includes a $500,000 buyout of a $9.25 club option for 2011.
 

Brewers still pushing for Halladay

If the Brewers are indeed “basically out” of the running for Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, as one national baseball writer wrote on Twitter, it would be news to Milwaukee’s general manager.

“I haven’t been told that we’re out,” Doug Melvin said Friday, when the Brewers began a homestand that takes them to within 24 hours of the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline. “I was never told that we’re in, either.

“I don’t want to get into who we’re talking to and when we’ve talked. It’s all part of the negotiations.”

After acquiring second baseman Felipe Lopez from the Diamondbacks on Sunday — Lopez missed a second straight start Friday because of a hamstring strain but will be installed as the everyday leadoff hitter once he’s healthy — Melvin’s focus is bolstering a shaky starting rotation that ranked 15th of the 16 National League teams and 27th of the 30 Major League teams with a 4.96 ERA entering the weekend.  Young left-hander Manny Parra entered his Friday start against the Braves riding a series of successful starts following a demotion to Triple-A Nashville, but right-hander Dave Bush remained sidelined by a right triceps injury and fellow righty Mike Burns has been too inconsistent.

Burns is lined up to start on Tuesday against the Nationals, but the Brewers are poised to bump him from the rotation. If Melvin doesn’t make a trade before then, right-hander Tim Dillard will be promoted from Nashville.

The Phillies are widely considered the chief suitor for Halladay, a right-hander who started for the Blue Jays on Friday night. Philadelphia ranked just three spots above the Brewers among NL teams with a 4.74 starters’ ERA. The Dodgers and Red Sox have also been mentioned as suitors.

According to CBSsports.com’s Danny Knobler, the Brewers fell out of the running for Halladay because they were unwilling to part with Mat Gamel or Alcides Escobar — considered Milwaukee’s top two prospects — to land Halladay. Knobler also reported that scouts from the Brewers and Red Sox left Toronto ahead of Halladay’s start against the Rays at Rogers Centre while Phillies special assistant Charley Kerfeld stayed to watch.

Asked to characterize the market one week before the deadline, Melvin called it, “quiet.” That’s probably because the top available pitchers either have one year left on their contract or an expensive option following this season — Halladay, Cleveland’s Cliff Lee, San Diego’s Jake Peavy and Arizona’s Jon Garland all fit that category — and thus will command extra in a trade. The list of pending free agents is shorter, and it includes Arizona’s Doug Davis and Seattle’s Erik Bedard and Jarrod Washburn.

Melvin has been in contact with Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, who until last fall was Milwaukee’s amateur scouting director, but Zduriencik is hesitant to deal because Seattle is a surprising contender; seven games over .500 and 5 1/2 games out of first place in the American League West entering play Friday.

Brewers officials, meanwhile, have debated internally whether it’s worth digging into the farm system for a second straight season — CC Sabathia cost four prospects last year including 2007 first-round Draft pick Matt LaPorta — to acquire a front-line pitcher. That debate is ongoing, Melvin said. 

“It depends what you get, and what you give up,” Melvin said. “That’s what it really comes down to. What you get, what you give up, and how you’re playing at the time that you do it. …

“We’ve still got a good team,” Melvin added. “We just have to put it together. We have to put some consistency together and have a little winning streak.”

Melvin planning to hold Escobar, Gamel

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin parted with his top prospect to land an ace last July, but sounds hesitant to do so again this summer.

Third baseman Mat Gamel and shortstop Alcides Escobar aren’t exactly off-limits, but Melvin said on Tuesday that he did not expect to trade either young player to acquire a pitcher before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline.

“I find that almost impossible,” Melvin said. “You never say never, but it’s not my focus at all. Young players are valuable, you know? You talk about teams looking for hitting, and shortstops are so valuable. If you don’t have one, you can go years without having one.”

Gamel is proving valuable, too. He was hitting .336 at Triple-A Nashville before a promotion to Milwaukee last month, and will remain in the Majors even though the Brewers won’t need to employ a designated hitter for the rest of the regular season. Gamel went 7-for-23 (.304) on the Brewers just-completed road trip.

Escobar has spent the entire year at Nashville and was hitting .295 with 27 stolen bases and 53 runs scored through his first 71 games this season.

But Melvin proved last season that he’s not afraid of making a splash. He included then-top prospect Matt LaPorta in the package of players that lured CC Sabathia from the Indians, a trade that propelled Milwaukee to its first postseason appearance in 26 years.

This year, he’s shopping again. The Brewers placed Dave Bush on the disabled list Tuesday with a triceps injury and will keep Manny Parra at Nashville for the foreseeable future. That leaves two holes in the rotation.

But with so many clubs still considering themselves contenders, the trade market is quiet.

“You don’t have that many clubs call,” Melvin said. “I talked to a GM today and it’s probably the first one I’ve talked to, about players or what we’re doing, in 10 days or so. It’s not like it’s a daily routine.”

Who should play 2B with Weeks out?

Friday’s rainout blew up by travel schedule so I am not with the team in St. Louis tonight, but I am told by the intrepid MLB.com reporter filling my shoes that Doug Melvin said shortstop Alcides Escobar will begin seeing some action at second base for Triple-A Nashville.

Escobar was not being considered for an immediate promotion, Melvin said. I wonder if that could change in the near future if Escobar adapts quickly.

So, here are some internal candidates to play second base. Who do you think should get the nod?

- Craig Counsell
- Casey McGehee
- Escobar
- Hernan Iribarren (hitting .311 at Nashville)
- Jason  Bourgeois (hitting .323 at Nashville as an OF, but can play 2B)

Am I missing anybody?

The other option, obviously, is for Melvin to look for help outside the organization. The free agent who jumps to mind is Ray Durham, who finished last year with Milwaukee and as far as I know remains unemployed. Who else would you look at if you were in Melvin’s shoes?

Ash on Weeks: 'Obviously, we're concerned'

From the desk of the Director of the Obvious: The Brewers would not have made the quick decision to send second baseman Rickie Weeks to see a specialist 1,400 miles away if he had nothing more serious than a sore left wrist.

But “sore wrist” was the only diagnosis on Sunday, when Weeks was injured on a swinging strike three in the first inning in St. Louis. After the game, he already had a flight booked to Phoenix to see the same doctor — Don Sheridan — who performed surgery on Weeks’ right wrist in 2005 and the base of his left thumb in 2006.

Weeks will visit with Sheridan today. Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash, the point man on injury issues, said the team would make an announcement as soon as Weeks gets a more complete diagnosis and an idea of what comes next.

“Do you think we wake up and decide to send somebody across the country if it wasn’t serious?” Ash said. “That’s about as obvious as can be. … Obviously, we’re concerned. Obviously, there might be a problem, and rather than wait around for five or six days to see what happens, let’s see now.”

Club officials made that decision very quickly as, or shortly after, the Brewers batted around and scored four runs in a first inning that began with Weeks’ strikeout. Shortly after Craig Counsell moved from third base to second and Bill Hall entered the game at third, a club spokesperson announced the nature of Weeks’ injury. Head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger consulted with team physician William Raasch and Ash, and decided to send him to Phoenix. The club’s traveling secretary booked Weeks’ flight before the end of the game.

The injury is especially unfortunate since Weeks is having a fine season. He is batting .272 with a .340 on-base percentage and, along with first baseman Prince Fielder, leads the team with nine home runs. Weeks is tied with Corey Hart for the team lead in runs scored, with 28. 

The rest of the Brewers remained in St. Louis on Sunday and will play a make-up of Friday’s rainout on Monday night. That means the team is about a four-hour drive or a short flight from Nashville, home of their Triple-A affiliate.

Ash was asked if any players made the trip to St. Louis just in case it becomes clear Weeks will head to the disabled list.

“No. You can’t do it,” Ash said. “I know clubs do it, but it’s against the rules.”

Options at Nashville would include Hernan Iribarren, a left-handed hitter who played stints with the Brewers last season and is hitting .311 in the Minors this year while playing exclusively at second base. Nashville is also home to slick-fielding shortstop Alcides Escobar, but with third baseman Mat Gamel promoted to the Majors last week, it’s unlikely the Brewers would want both of their top prospects sitting on the big league bench.

With right-hander Kyle Lohse starting for St. Louis on Monday, left-handed hitter Counsell will probably play second base. The Brewers will then travel to Houston to face two left-handers — Mike Hampton and Wandy Rodriguez — in those games, so righty-hitter Casey McGehee is an option. McGehee played a lot of second base in Spring Training and replaced Weeks there on April 21 in Philadelphia after Weeks collided with shortstop J.J. Hardy.

Escobar will take grounders at short, second

Alcides Escobar was optioned to Triple-A Nashville this evening but he was feeling good about his camp, and about his chances of breaking back into the big leagues at some point this season.

To that end, the slick-fielding shortstop will take ground balls at short and at second base during his time in Nashville, a move to make him as versatile as possible in case an injury creates a need in Milwaukee. He once again declared himself ready for the Majors on Wednesday.

“I’m happy that I got all of Spring Training with the team,” Escobar said. “I’m going to be ready if something happens to a [Brewers] player.

“They’re sending me to Triple-A to play every day and work on my strike-zone [judgment], and I’m going to do that. I’m ready to play in the big leagues. I’m ready. But right now, J.J. Hardy is the shortstop.”

The Brewers were able to option Escobar because Craig Counsell, Hardy’s backup, has chosen to forgo surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee. Counsell tested the joint in five straight games with no limitations. As long as he can tolerate the pain, he’ll continue to play. 

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