Results tagged ‘ George Kottaras ’

Kottaras back in lineup

After getting a night off Tuesday in favor of Jonathan Lucroy — who made his first Major League start in the game — i catcher George Kottaras is back in the Brewers’ starting lineup for Wednesday’s game. 

Kottaras will bat seventh, behind Corey Hart and ahead of Alcides Escobar. Manager Ken Macha’s lineup remains the same otherwise as the Brewers face off against Astros ace Roy Oswalt tonight at Miller Park.
Here’s the rest of the lineup:
Weeks  2B
Gomez  CF
Braun  LF
Fielder  1B
McGehee  3B
Hart  RF
Kottaras  C
Escobar  SS
Narveson  P
– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter

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Kottaras, Hart back in lineup

With lefties taking the mound on both sides, Jim Edmonds and Gregg Zaun will take a seat tonight in favor of Corey Hart and George Kottaras in right field and at catcher, respectively.

The right-handed Hart gets the nod over Edmonds, a lefty, with left-handed pitcher Ted Lilly making his 2010 debut for the Cubs tonight. Kottaras will start behind the plate for the Brewers to catch Brewers lefty Doug Davis.
Here’s the lineup:
Rickie Weeks   2B
Carlos Gomez   CF
Ryan Braun   LF
Prince Fielder   1B
Casey McGehee   3B
Corey Hart   RF
Alcides Escobar   SS
George Kottaras   C
Doug Davis   LHP
– Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter

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Edmonds starts in center

Eight-time Gold Glove-winning center fielder Jim Edmonds will make his first Brewers start there tonight, as the Brewers try to avoid a three-game Cardinals sweep on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. George Kottaras, as expected, is behind the plate. 

Here’s the lineup courtesy of the Brewers’ John Steinmiller:

Rickie Weeks  2B

Jim Edmonds  CF
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Corey Hart  RF
George Kottaras  C
Alcides Escobar  SS
Randy Wolf  LHP
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Edmonds could be Opening Day right fielder

Brewers manager Ken Macha confirmed what general manager Doug Melvin hinted on Tuesday: That Jim Edmonds, and not Corey Hart, could very well be the team’s Opening Day right fielder.  
The choice will depend partly on whether Hart shows any signs of life at the plate in the Brewers’ final four Spring Training games and partly on when Edmonds re-joins the team. He traveled home on Monday night to tend to an urgent family matter and, as of Wednesday morning, Macha wasn’t sure when Edmonds would be able to return.  
It helps Edmonds’ case that he is a left-handed hitter. Hart bats right-handed, and the Rockies’ Opening Day starter is righty Ubaldo Jimenez. 
Hart has been working his way through a dismal spring. He went 0-for-3 against the Angels on Tuesday and entered Wednesday’s game against the Cubs with a .135 batting average (7-for-52) a .167 on-base percentage and 16 strikeouts versus only two walks. It’s not for a lack of playing time; only three teammates entered play Wednesday with more at-bats than Hart.  
“He really hasn’t put together a game or two where he’s had quality at-bats,” Macha said.  
Hart won his arbitration case with the Brewers over the winter and will draw a $4.8 million salary in 2010. 
The other position in flux is catcher, where Gregg Zaun missed another game Wednesday with a left quadriceps strain. If he cannot amass some at-bats before Opening Day, the backup option is George Kottaras. Left fielder Ryan Braun, who had missed the team’s last four games because of a stiff back, returned to the lineup against the Cubs.
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Treanor traded to Texas

The Brewers traded catcher Matt Treanor to the Rangers on Monday for Minor League infielder Ray Olmedo, a move that put George Kottaras on the inside track to open the season as Milwaukee’s backup catcher. 

“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised,” Treanor said. “It’s a really good situation for me and hopefully it works out for the Brewers as well. … It’s a good feeling to know that you’re wanted.”
The Brewers made four other moves before Monday’s game against the Dodgers: Pitcher Josh Butler and infielder Adam Heether were optioned to Triple-A Nashville and outfielder Trent Oeltjen was returned to Minor League camp. The Brewers also added infielder Trent Green to big league camp as a nonroster player.
Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash cautioned against anointing Kottaras the backup to Brewers catcher Gregg Zaun just yet, but the only other catcher still on the camp roster is Jonathan Lucroy, who topped out at Double-A Huntsville last season. 
The Rangers are off on Tuesday so Treanor’s first opportunity to meet his new teammates will come Wednesday. The Minor League contract that Treanor signed with the Brewers includes a March 30 “out” clause that allows him to elect free agency if he is not added to the 40-man roster. 
Even if he does not make Texas’ big league club, the Rangers probably offer a better opportunity for Treanor than Milwaukee, where Lucroy and fellow prospect Angel Salome represent something of a Triple-A logjam.
“Basically I’m going to be in the same boat over there as I am here, competing for a job,” Treanor said. “From what it sounds like, I have a good opportunity [to begin the season in the Majors]. I just have to go over there and catch as many guys as I can and learn the staff and become a part of the Texas Rangers’ organization.”
The tough part is that Treanor was just getting comfortable in his Brewers jersey, a month into camp. Now he has two weeks to learn an entirely new slew of pitchers. 
“That’s the way the game is,” he said. “I’m not accustomed to this situation. I was with Florida for 11 years after my first trade [from the Royals to the Marlins in July 1997] and you get kind of used to the guys. … Any time you get sent out it’s a weird feeling. I think I’m definitely taking this better than I did when I was 21, 22 years old. It’s a part of the game and a lot of guys do it.”
Kottaras was the Brewers’ pick for a number of reasons, including the fact he is already on the 40-man roster and is out of Minor League options. Kottaras, 26, is also eight years younger than the veteran Treanor and offers more of an offensive element than the defense-first Treanor. 

“They had a stronger need for catching than we had, and considering how our situation was unfolding, we felt it was wise to make that maneuver now to give us more depth on the Triple-A infield,” Ash said. “[Treanor] is a good veteran guy. He knows how to handle a staff. But when you’re trying to blend the present to the future, it made more sense to go this way.”
“George is an outstanding talent,” Treanor said. “He likes to work, he’s very organized. Maybe that’s why the move was made; maybe I wasn’t going to make the team.” 
Olmedo can play second base, third base and shortstop. Olmedo, 28, has played professionally since 1999 with time in the Major Leagues with Cincinnati (2003-06) and Toronto (2007), hitting .228 in 198 games. 
Olmedo was in Texas’ big league camp as a nonroster invitee, but he will report to Milwaukee’s Minor League camp. 
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Gamel sidelined a few more days

Third baseman Mat Gamel conceded this morning that he tried to come back too early from a sore right shoulder. Now it appears he will be sidelined a few more days. 

Gamel first complained of some soreness last week and was held out of Cactus League games for the first three days of the schedule. He said he was ready to play by Saturday but was asked to wait, then got an extra day of rest Sunday. when the Brewers-Reds game was rained out. So it came as some surprise to manager Ken Macha that Gamel was forced to exit Monday’s game against the Mariners in the third inning with a sore shoulder. 
“I guess it’s not ready yet,” Gamel said. “It was feeling better. I guess I just rushed it. … But it’s better to miss a couple now than a couple later.”
He would have preferred to not miss any at all. Gamel also missed time last spring with a sore throwing shoulder — he says this injury is different — and then saw his numbers slip after the Brewers began bouncing him between Triple-A and the big league bench beginning in May. 
Officially, Gamel is competing for a spot on the big league roster this spring and he remains the team’s top option behind incumbent starter Casey McGehee. There is some pressure, then, to be out on the field. 
“You can’t make a team in the training room,” he lamented. “They need you healthy.”
Macha agreed. 
“Let’s make sure we nip this in the bud so he can give himself a chance,” Macha said. “If it happens again and he’s going to be out two weeks, we’ve got coverage. We’ve got other guys we can put on the team.”
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Assuming we stay dry, here is the lineup for today’s game against the Cubs:
Rickie Weeks  2B
Craig Counsell   SS
Carlos Gomez  CF
Prince Fielder  1B
Jim Edmonds  LF
Jody Gerut  RF
Adam Heether  3B
Jonathan Lucroy  C
Jeff Suppan  RHP
The pitchers scheduled to follow Suppan include Marco Estrada, Chuck Lofgren, John Halama, Claudio Vargas and A.J. Murray. 
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Lucroy is starting today but Macha has been focusing lately on evaluating George Kottaras and Matt Treanor, who may have a leg up on the backup catcher battle. 
“They each give you a little bit different look,” Macha said. “Kottaras, watching him take [batting practice], he’s got pretty sizeable power when he gets hold of one and he’s a left-handed hitter, which is nice to have. … Treanor, I really like the way he throws the ball and blocks the ball in the dirt. So you’ve got two kind of different styles, or what they bring to the table is a little different.”
What will influence Macha’s decision?
“I want to take a look and see what Zaun does as the spring goes on,” he said. “That may be a determining factor. I’m open if a guy goes out there and is head and shoulders above everybody.”
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Macha offered praise for Minor League first baseman Steffan Wilson, who garnered a last-minute invitation to big league camp to help back up Fielder at first base. 
“He’s been impressive,” Macha said. “Intense guy. He was taking his warm-up swings and he’s looking like Mike Sweeney more every day. Big, strong first baseman. Hits the ball all over the ballpark.”
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Lockers stood empty Tuesday morning where pitching prospects Eric Arnett, Kyle Heckathorn and Alex Periard had dressed. All three pitchers were cut from big league camp on Monday to continue their preparation on the Minor League side. Macha said that Monday morning’s B game prevented pitching coach Rick Peterson from giving the young men a proper send-off, but Peterson planned to stop by the Minor League complex for a chat.
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All-lefty bench a possibility

The Brewers’ starting lineup figures to lean right this season, but manager Ken Macha said Tuesday that he could end up with an entirely left-handed hitting bench.  
“It tests the manager, whether he can sit one of the right-handers down and get the left-handers in [the lineup],” Macha said.  
Many of the starting positional players haven’t even reported to camp yet and things could change over six weeks of Spring Training, but the Brewers for now project to have six right-handed hitters in the regular lineup (second baseman Rickie Weeks, shortstop Alcides Escobar, third baseman Casey McGehee and an all-righty outfield of Ryan Braun in left, Carlos Gomez in center and Corey Hart in right. Catcher Gregg Zaun is a switch-hitter, and Prince Fielder bats left-handed.  
Then comes a bench that could have plenty of lefty bats. Craig Counsell is a lock to be the primary backup infielder and Jody Gerut is back as the fourth outfielder. The leading candidate for the other infield spot is probably waiver pick-up Joe Inglett (organizational veteran Hernan Iribarren is out of options and could be an interesting candidate, too), and the Brewers will give nonroster invitees Jim Edmonds and Trent Oeltjen a chance to win the final outfield spot. Among the potential backup catchers is George Kottaras, who could have an edge over prospects Jonathan Lucroy and Angel Salome because of his experience and over the experienced Matt Treanor because Treanor isn’t on the 40-man roster.  
Counsell, Gerut, Inglett, Iribarren, Edmonds, Oeltjen and Kottaras all bat left-handed.  
The key, Macha said, would be sprinkling some of those left-handed hitters into the lineup to balance the bench.  
“We’ll see how that plays out,” he said.
Some other notes from Macha’s Tuesday morning chat with reporters:
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Left-hander Chris Capuano, the former All-Star and 18-game winner attempting a comeback from his second career Tommy John surgery, was among the Brewers pitchers scheduled to throw off a mound Tuesday. Macha was looking forward to it. 
“I have to give this guy some credit with the amount of work he’s put in to get to this particular point,” Macha said. “Not just that, talking about him with Doug [Melvin, Milwaukee's general manager] and Gord [Ash], the assistant GM, this guy is a pretty established Major League pitcher. … I think he’s got a particular passion for the game and he’s going to play it all out. Good for him.”
Capuano is not considered a candidate for the Opening Day roster because he has only pitched six games since re-injuring his left elbow in March 2008. He finished last season at the Brewers’ Class A affiliate and will probably need some extensive time in the Minors this season to prove he’s healthy. 
But he is not limited in camp, and the Brewers are holding out some hope that he could help the big league club in the future. 
“It would be nice to strike some gold from somebody,” Macha said. 
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The first full-squad workout won’t be until Saturday, but the hitters are scheduled to see some live batting practice from pitchers on Friday morning. That should be an interesting day for someone like Edmonds, who hasn’t faced live pitching since the 2008 postseason with the Cubs. 
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Weeks stopped by camp over the weekend, but he’s been away since taking his physical to deal with what Macha called a, “dental issue.” Counsell and Iribarren reported on Tuesday morning, leaving only Braun, Escobar, Fielder and Minor Leaguers Luis Cruz and Logan Schafer yet to make an appearance.
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Former Brewer Darryl Hamilton stopped by Tuesday as a representative of the Major League Players Association to discuss some rules issues with the players. Among the topics was baseball’s continuing efforts to speed the pace of games and some tweaks to the rules about pitchers licking their fingers on the mound (but not on the pitching rubber). Deep stuff. 
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Strength and conditioning coordinator Chris Joyner introduced a new drill Tuesday that forced some smiles. Pitchers balanced on one foot on a foam square and underhanded a baseball back and forth. Then it was on to everyone’s favorite Spring Training exercise: pitchers fielding practice.
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Brewers sign catcher Zaun

The Brewers didn’t wait for the start of next week’s Winter Meetings to make their first Major League free agent signing.

The team on Friday inked switch-hitting catcher Gregg Zaun to a one-year deal with a club option for 2011 in a move that signaled the end of Jason Kendall’s tenure in Milwaukee. The sides reached terms late Thursday night and Zaun traveled to Milwaukee early Friday morning for a physical exam.

“It was an opportunity to play every day and I’m excited about that,” Zaun said. “I’m 38 years old and a lot of people have made assumptions about how much I can play, but I like that challenge. I’ll have to earn it every day, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.” 

The Brewers were the most aggressive of Zaun’s suitors, and the financial package they offered didn’t hurt. Zaun, who earned $1.5 million last season from the Orioles and Rays, is guaranteed $2.15 million in his contract with the Brewers. 

He’ll get a $1.9 million salary in 2010 with the opportunity to earn $600,000 more in bonuses based on games started. The Brewers hold a $2.25 million option for 2011 with a $250,000 buyout.

“They were aggressive early,” Zaun said. “It made me feel important to them.” 

He will play an important role in 2010. Kendall had been Milwaukee’s regular catcher the past two seasons but he earned $5 million in 2009 and Brewers officials decided to go with a cheaper option. 

The Brewers now have to decide how to line up Zaun’s backups. The incumbents include Mike Rivera, who has been Milwaukee’s back-up since 2006 but he’s arbitration-eligible this winter and can expect a bump in pay. The Brewers also claimed left-handed hitter George Kottaras off waivers from the Red Sox this fall and have a pair of catching prospects in Angel Salome and Jonathan Lucroy. If the team decides to promote Lucroy all the way from Double-A, a possibility already raised by general manager Doug Melvin, the experienced Zaun could help him break into the Majors.

Zaun has already played for eight teams in a 15-year career that began with the Orioles in 1995. He split 2009 between Baltimore, where he mentored stud catching prospect Matt Wieters, and Tampa Bay, where he finished the year after an August trade. In 90 games he was a .260 hitter with eight home runs and 27 RBIs.

Zaun is a Type B free agent and Tampa Bay offered him arbitration. Because he signed before Monday’s deadline for players to accept or decline the offer, the Rays will receive a compensatory pick between the first- and second rounds of next year’s Draft.

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Technically, 35 on the roster

Just wanted to correct something from several Wednesday articles published after the Brewers claimed catcher George Kottaras from the Boston Red Sox. I wrote in a couple of places that the move left the Brewers with 36 players on the 40-man roster, and while that eventually may prove true, at the moment it is not. Players claimed off release waivers have five days to decide whether to accept the claim and remain on the 40-man roster, or to decline and become a free agent.

As of this writing, Kottaras is still in that grey area. Unless he is sure that another team will offer him a place on its roster, he’ll probably accept and join the group of catchers under consideration by the Brewers for 2010.

Thanks to our Jonathan Mayo for asking why Major League Baseball is listing only 35 players on the roster, and to Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash for providing the quick answer. You learn a new roster rule every day.

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GM says Kottaras claim is about depth

The Brewers added catching depth on Wednesday by claiming onetime Padres prospect George Kottaras off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.

Kottaras, 26 and a left-handed hitter, reportedly asked out of Boston after it became clear that Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek would be back in 2010. Kottaras appeared in 45 games with the Red Sox last season and batted .237 with one home run and 10 RBIs.

He is out of Minor League options, and joins catchers Mike Rivera and Angel Salome on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster. The Brewers also plan to give a long Spring Training look to prospect Jonathan Lucroy, whom general manager Doug Melvin mentioned this month as a candidate to jump from Double-A to the Majors in 2010.

Rivera, Salome and Lucroy are all right-handed hitters.

“If we can get better, then we’ll try to get better,” Melvin said. “We have to have depth. We have Salome and Lucroy, we have Kottaras and we still have Rivera, but we don’t have a front-line guy.” 

That guy in the past two seasons was Jason Kendall, but Kendall cost $5 million in 2009 and Melvin made it clear to agent Arn Tellem that the Brewers didn’t intend to spend that much behind the plate next year.

Rivera is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, but Melvin wouldn’t say what the Brewers plans are for him next season. The team has until Dec. 12 to decide whether to tender Rivera a 2010 contract.  

Asked for his thoughts about the team’s catching situation in general, Melvin said, “It’s too early to say what we’ll do. We haven’t gotten to the Winter Meetings. Free agency hasn’t even started yet so we can’t really talk to anyone.” 

Teams own exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents for the 15 days following the World Series. They are free to negotiate with all free agents beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET on Friday. 

As recently as three years ago, Kottaras was rated the second-best prospect in San Diego’s organization by Baseball America. He was traded from San Diego to Boston late that year to complete the trade that sent pitcher David Wells to the Padres.

In seven Minor League seasons, Kottaras is a .269 hitter with 66 home runs and 289 RBIs. His best year was 2007, when he batted .243 for Boston’s Triple-A affiliate with a career-best 22 home runs and 65 RBIs in 107 games.

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