Results tagged ‘ Brad Nelson ’

Macha: Gamel '09 could look like Fielder '05

How does a guy hit .354 in Spring Training and then go 0-for-21 to start the regular season? Brad Nelson would love to know the answer to that question.

The one-time Brewers top prospect will have to mull that riddle somewhere else beginning Thursday. The Brewers removed him from the 40-man roster and outrighted him to Triple-A Nashville following a win over the Marlins in which Nelson didn’t appear, clearing a spot for third base prospect Mat Gamel.

Gamel will arrive from Nashville in time for Thursday’s series finale and will be used similarly to Prince Fielder when Fielder made his Major League debut in 2005. The Brewers play their first Interleague Series in Minnesota on May 22-24, and Gamel could serve as the designated hitter. Until then, he will probably be limited to pinch-hit duties.

“He may get a start, we’ll see,” said Brewers manager Ken Macha, who paused when asked if he felt comfortable with playing Gamel at third base. “He’s had some errors down there, [eight] errors. I thought in Spring Training he wasn’t really terrible out there.

“The reports are that if he just has to react on the ball, he ends up making a good play. Most of his errors have been balls hit right at him and he has to think about what he’s going to do with the ball.”

Gamel might be returned to Triple-A after Interleague Play so he can continue to get regular at-bats.

“This guy is our top prospect, so I don’t have any plans to have him sitting on the bench,” Macha said.

Nelson, meanwhile, can reject his Triple-A assignment because this is his second outright. He has three days to decide, and Nelson said he will remain in Milwaukee in the meantime.

Brewers ink Catalanotto to Minors deal

The Brewers signed utility man Frank Catalanotto to a Minor League contract on Tuesday, adding a versatile veteran — and another left-handed bat — for organizational depth. It’s a move that probably doesn’t bode well for Brad Nelson.

Catalanotto will report to the team’s year-round baseball facility in Phoenix for 5-7 days of workouts before he’s assigned to a Minor League affiliate, a Brewers spokesman said. It’s possible that he could eventually replace Nelson on the Brewers’ bench if Nelson doesn’t hit a hot streak.

Entering this week’s series against the Marlins, Nelson, who made his first Opening Day roster by hitting .354 in Spring Training, is 0-for-20 in 18 games. He reached base for the second time this season on Saturday when he drew his second walk.

Catalanotto is a .292 hitter in 12 seasons with three American League teams while playing both corner outfield positions, plus first, second and third base. He spent the last two years with Texas, but was released at the end of Spring Training when the Rangers opted to add Andruw Jones to the roster. Texas swallowed Catalanotto’s $6 million salary for this season, so the Brewers would only owe him a prorated portion of the Major League minimum salary for time he spends in the big leagues.

Wrapping a bow on Spring Training

Was Brad Nelson trying to make one final bid for the Opening Day roster with his go-ahead, three run home run in Saturday’s Spring Training finale?

“Truthfully, honestly, yeah!” a wide-smiling Nelson said after the Brewers capped their exhibition season with a 7-4 win at Dodger Stadium. “When you haven’t heard anything, why not?”

He finally did hear after the game that he had cracked Milwaukee’s Opening Day roster. It was an emotional moment for a player drafted in 2001 who had climbed to the top of the Brewers’ prospect chart, fallen back down and now has climbed back to the big leagues.

General manager Doug Melvin congratulated other players in person Saturday night including outfielder Chris Duffy, whose contract will be purchased from Triple-A Nashville on Sunday to complete the 25-man roster. Also making the cut, as expected, was infielder Casey McGehee, who will switch from uniform No. 52 to No. 14 for the regular season.

The Brewers finished the spring slate with a record of 22-10-3, including 16-3-1 over their final 20 games, 10-1 over their final 11 and 4-0 to end the ledger. They once again came from behind on Saturday after relievers Todd Coffey and David Riske combined to throw 64 pitches over the first two innings as the Dodgers took a 3-0 lead. Seth McClung threw 30 more pitches in the third inning and Jorge Julio threw 24 pitches in the fourth.

Dave Bush, appearing in relief to tune up for a probable inning of work on Opening Day (his first start does not come until April 11) finally settled things down in the fifth inning with a nine-pitch, seven-strike frame.

“I wanted to encourage everybody to throw their off-speed pitches, their change-ups,” manager Ken Macha said. “[Coffey] didn’t throw any until the end. Riske threw 13 straight fastballs [in one stretch]. … The other guys all mixed their pitches.”

The Brewers rallied with three runs in the seventh inning and four more in the ninth. Craig Counsell hit a tying RBI single before Nelson crushed a three-run homer to straightaway center field.

Gwynn clears waivers; club claims Koshansky

[UPDATED at 1:20 p.m. CT… Added some thoughts from assistant GM Gord Ash and corrected my note on Koshansky, who actually came from the Rangers after a 4-day stay in that organization.]

Tony Gwynn Jr. is staying put.

All 29 teams, including the San Diego Padres, who employed Gwynn’s father for 20 Hall of Fame seasons, could have had Gwynn for $20,000 — plus a roster spot, of course — after the Brewers placed Gwynn on outright waivers Wednesday. All 29 teams passed, so the Brewers were able to assign Gwynn to Triple-A Nashville. 

“I was surprised he got through,” Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said. “But it’s happened to other players before. It happened to Brad Nelson three years ago, and look where he is now. It doesn’t mean the end of anything, it’s just kind of an interruption.

“[Gwynn] is obviously disappointed, but understands. He wanted to make sure that he’s going to get the opportunity to play and make his way back to the big leagues. I assured him he would.”

Gwynn, 26 and Milwaukee’s second-round Draft pick in 2003, reported to Spring Training out of Minor League options and seemingly assured a job as the Brewers’ fourth outfielder. But he missed the first half of Spring Training with a sore throwing shoulder and then was outplayed by fellow out-of-options outfielder Nelson and non-roster invitee Chris Duffy. Gwynn went 4-for-25 in Cactus League games with eight strikeouts.

The final choice essentially came down to Gwynn or Duffy; both are left-handed hitters with speed on the basepaths and are premium defenders in center field. Duffy batted .315 in Spring Training.

Also on Friday, the Brewers announced that third baseman Mike Lamb had cleared release waivers and become a free agent. Lamb was informed Tuesday that he would not have a spot on Milwaukee’s Opening Day roster.

The team also claimed first baseman Joe Koshansky off waivers from the Rangers and optioned him to Nashville, where the Sounds already had a first baseman in former Brave Scott Thorman. Ash said the Brewers could have some further news regarding Thorman later today. 

Koshansky, who turns 27 in May, has spent brief stints in the big leagues in each of the last two seasons but spent most of 2008 at Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he batted .300 with 31 home runs and 121 RBIs in just 122 games. He also struck out 158 times. The Rangers claimed him off waivers from the Rockies on March 29 but then needed the 40-man roster spot for a non-roster invitee, according to Ash. 

Gwynn appears on the way out

There are strong indications today that Tony Gwynn Jr. has either been placed on waivers or that a trade is in the works. Manager Ken Macha directed questions to general manager Doug Melvin, who wouldn’t or couldn’t elaborate.

“I can’t [say] either,” Melvin said.

When might he be able to provide the answer?

“Tomorrow,” Melvin said.

That response, coupled with the fact that Gwynn did not play in Wednesday’s game and was probably not going to appear on Thursday was a good hint that Gwynn, who is out of Minor League options, is on waivers. If he clears, the Brewers would assign Gwynn to Triple-A Nashville.

Gwynn was to travel with the Brewers on Thursday evening to Los Angeles. The Brewers won’t set their roster until it’s due on Sunday, so a handful of players will board the team charter with some degree of uncertainty about their status. The roster would be essentially set if Gwynn does not make the cut, but there’s always a chance of a last-minute trade, waiver claim or an injury.

For the second straight season, an injury came at a bad time for Gwynn. He was supposed to serve as the starting center fielder last April before a hamstring strain sidelined him. He reported to camp this spring with the fourth outfielder’s job all but locked up, but missed the first half of Spring Training with a sore throwing shoulder. In 25 at-bats after he recovered, Gwynn batted .160.

“We know Tony and we’ve seen what he can do,” Melvin said. “It’s probably been a little harder for Ken and his new staff to evaluate him, because they haven’t seen him. But we’ve told them what he can do and what he can’t do. He’s still a good player and everything. He fits what Duffy does, a little bit.”

if Gwynn clears waivers, he would join a very crowded outfield situation in Nashville. Brendan Katin and Cole Gillespie are expected to see time at the corners, though Gillespie is dealing with an elbow strain at the moment. Minor League veterans Jason Bourgeois, Adam Stern and Jason Tyner are also under contract — Tyner just signed this week, and had three hits in the Triple-A game on Wednesday.

Stern might be assigned to Double-A Huntsville, Melvin said, and so could Lorenzo Cain, though Cain may remain in extended Spring Training because of a “tweaked” hamstring. 

Who of Duffy, Gwynn and Nelson is the odd man out?

As the Brewers prepared to break camp on Thursday, the team’s roster decisions were down to three players — Chris Duffy, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Brad Nelson — for two reserve outfield spots.

Gwynn and Nelson are on the 40-man roster and out of Minor League options, so either player would have to be exposed to waivers before being demoted. Duffy is in camp on a Minor League contract and would have to be added to the 40-man if he makes the team. The Brewers do have one open spot.

In terms of performance, Duffy and Nelson have the clear advantage. Duffy entered Thursday’s game, the finale of the Brewers’ Arizona Spring Training schediule, hitting .315 in a team-high 73 at-bats and Nelson was hitting .356 with a .429 on-base percentage.

Gwynn, meanwhile, was limited early in camp by a sore throwing shoulder and then batted .160 (4-for-25) with eight strikeouts in 13 games. It’s very interesting that he did not play at all in Wednesday’s game against the D-backs. He’s not in the lineup again today, and if Gwynn once again does not appear, it could be a very strong indication that some sort of roster move is in the works.

Club officials technically are not allowed to discuss when players are placed on waivers. Just thought I would mention it for those fans following today’s game on television or the webcast today.

Duffy was happy with his performance in camp, and rightly so.

“I stayed healthy, and that was the No. 1 thing,” said Duffy, who missed big chunks of the last two seasons with injuries, most notably a shoulder injury that required surgery. “This might sound crazy, but my mindset wasn’t totally to make the team. I wanted to stay healthy and get ready for the season, wherever that was going to be. That helped me not put pressure on myself. I can’t control what they think or what they want, but I can control my own mindset.

“I don’t know what they’re going to do. At the end, it comes down to the fact that this is a business and that can affect the different decisions that are made. I’ve been around long enough to understand that.”  

Nelson out with stomach cramps

The Brewers just announced that Brad Nelson left the game with stomach cramps, perhaps the same bug that bit fellow outfielders Corey Hart and Chris Duffy earlier this month. Both of those players missed a few games before returning to work. 

Is Nixon's time with Brewers running out?

If Trot Nixon does not win a roster spot with the Brewers, the organization might not have a job for him at Triple-A.

So said general manager Doug Melvin, who met with Nixon last week. Nixon switched from No. 3 to No. 93 on March 14 but it has not helped him shake his spring slump, and with a .108 batting average it appears that he’s behind in the Brewers’ race for backup outfield spots.

“We had a conversation and I let him know where he stood at this time,” Melvin said. “The tough thing about Spring Training is evaluating the numbers, but I told him that if he didn’t make our big club, there wasn’t a guarantee of anything at Triple-A at this point.

“There’s still a lot of time left, though,” Melvin added. “The thing is, as long as you have a uniform on, you have a chance of making the ballclub. Trot is a real pro and he tries hard and he gives his best effort. In Spring Training, a couple of balls fall in for hits and the story is totally different.”

One thing is certain: Nixon is doing everything he can to get on track. He has not started a Brewers “A” game since March 15, but on Friday he asked for at-bats in a Triple-A game.

I tried over the weekend to ask him how he was doing, but he was not in the mood to chat.

“I really feel like talking about it, to be honest with you,” Nixon said with his head down.

Other outfielders are ticketed for Triple-A over Nixon. Prospects Cole Gillespie and Brendan Katin are likely to play in Nashville and the team is mulling whether to send Lorenzo Cain there. Jason Bourgeois, who is in big league camp, will go to Nashville. If Chris Duffy does not make the cut he would probably be assigned there, too. Ditto for Tony Gwynn Jr. or Brad Nelson, though the Brewers would have to pass that duo through waivers first.

So you can see that it’s crowded. Nixon, 34, would have a lot of competition for playing time.

Waiting for word on Gwynn, Looper

Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash was delayed on his return flight from Milwaukee to Phoenix on Monday, so we will not get the results of doctor visits by outfielder Tony Gwynn. Jr. and right-hander Braden Looper until Tuesday.

Gwynn had a setback on Sunday and was to undergo an MRI scan on Monday, according to Brewers manager Ken Macha, to determine why he’s still feeling pain in his right shoulder. Looper was scratched from his Saturday start with tightness at the back of his ribcage and was to see a doctor today.

Gwynn’s bad luck is proving a huge boost for Brad Nelson, who hit another RBI single against the Padres today and is batting .571 with four walks in four Spring Training games. Nelson moved back to first base last year, but he has played the outfield in the past and is being considered for a backup spot there.

“If we’re going to keep two extra outfielders, we’re going to have to see what ‘Nellie’ can do,” Macha said. “He’s been impressive. Almost every at-bat is a long pitch count at-bat. He’s not afraid to take a walk. His strike zone knowledge is pretty good. He stays on the ball.”

What do you think? If you were GM Doug Melvin, who would you keep in the outfield?

Gameday: March 2 at Padres

Before we get to today’s “A” game lineup, manager Ken Macha told us at this morning’s “B” game against the Dodgers that outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. had a setback during a throwing drill on Sunday and will undergo an MRI scan today to determine what’s going on in his sore right shoulder. He won’t be the designated hitter this afternoon.

Trot Nixon makes his first appearance in center field and Brad Nelson, who has drawn raves from Macha so far, starts in left. Here’s the full lineup:

Jason Kendall       C
Craig Counsell       2B
Corey Hart            RF
Prince Fielder        1B
Angel Salome        DH
Trot Nixon             CF
Brad Nelson          LB
Casey McGehee    3B
Alcides Escobar    SS

Right-hander Jeff Suppan gets the start for Milwaukee and Todd Coffey, R.J. Swindle, Tim Dillard and Lindsay Gulin are also scheduled to work.