Results tagged ‘ Hernan Iribarren ’

Iribarren claimed by Rangers

Infielder Hernan Iribarren’s long Brewers tenure came to an end on Saturday when the Texas Rangers claimed him off waivers. 
Iribarren, 25, a left-handed hitting second baseman, was out of options and the Brewers obviously did not see a spot for him on the Opening Day roster. Texas had a need for infielders since free agent pick-up Khalil Greene opted not to report to Spring Training. 
The Brewers signed Iribarren out of Venezuela in March 2002, making him the second- or third-longest tenured player on the team’s current 40-man roster, depending how you count. Outfielder Corey Hart was drafted and signed in 2000, and pitcher Manny Parra was drafted in 2001 but he was a “draft and follow” player who didn’t sign until summer 2002, when Iribarren was already working at the Brewers’ complex in the Dominican Republic.  
In his eight professional seasons, Iribarren is a .316 hitter in the Minor Leagues and a .185 hitter (5-for-27) in two brief stints in the Major Leagues. He has some speed (147 career stolen bases in the Minors) and has tried to develop defensive versatility by trying center field, third base and shortstop, but his true position is second base.  
The Brewers feel they have better options for the final bench spot. Joe Inglett, claimed off waivers <i>from</i> the Rangers in January, is also a left-handed hitting second baseman but Inglett has much more Major League experience. Third base prospect Mat Gamel also still has a chance to make the team, manager Ken Macha said Saturday morning.  
Iribarren was supposed to play all nine innings of Saturday’s split-squad game against the White Sox at shortstop, but he was scratched about two hours before the first pitch when the roster move was made official. Luis Cruz started instead.  
The Brewers’ 40-man roster is down to 39 players, and 52 players remain in Major League camp.
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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 activate Suppan, option Iribarren

The Brewers’ media notes say that the team optioned infielder Hernan Iribarren back to Triple-A Nashville today to make room for right-hander Jeff Suppan, who returns from the disabled list to start against the Reds tonight.

That means the Brewers will go into the series with 13 pitches. They will have to make another move on Thursday, when Dave Bush is scheduled to return from injury.

Iribarren came off the bench for all 12 of his Brewers appearances this season and went 3-for-13 at the plate.

UPDATE at 2:30 p.m. CT — Here’s tonight’s Brewers lineup:

Felipe Lopez  2B
Craig Counsell SS
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Mike Cameron  CF
Frank Catalanotto  RF
Jason Kendall  C
Jeff Suppan  RHP

Brewers call on LHP Swindle for Twins series

Doug Melvin watched with a bit of angst as the Twins put 20 runs on the scoreboard against the White Sox on Thursday. In advance of his own club’s weekend series in Minnesota, Melvin called for another weapon.

The Brewers recalled left-hander R.J. Swindle from Triple-A Nashville after a 4-3 win over the Astros, giving manager Ken Macha two lefty bullpen arms for the likes of Minnesota’s Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel. Swindle will be in uniform on Friday night at the Metrodome.

To make room, the team optioned infielder Hernan Iribarren back to Nashville after just three days in the big leagues. Brewers officials figured that with the designated hitter rule in effect, the extra arm was needed more than the extra bench player.

“In particular, I’m looking at Kubel,” Macha said. “He’s just absolutely killing right-handers. Just killing them. That might be a spot where you waste a pitcher on one hitter.”

Kubel is hitting .365 against right-handers with all five of his home runs.

Swindle, who works with a looping curveball that sometimes crosses the plate at 55 mph, has surrendered only one run in 16 1/3 innings at Nashville spanning 11 games. In one game with the Brewers on April 21 in Philadlephia, he was charged with a run on two hits in 1 1/3 innings.

Iribarren did not play in the Brewers’ first two-games in Houston, but he played the final four innings Thursday night after a double-switch and actually squeezed the final out. Iribarren struck out in both of his plate appearances.

“I told the guys there may be some yo-yos in Nashville,” Melvin said. “They understand that.”

One more second base option: DeRosa

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin says he wants to stay in-house to fill Rickie Weeks’ absence at second base, but you know he and his assistants are keeping an eye on the trade market.

Here’s another name to throw out there: Mark DeRosa. The Indians would listen to offers, according to SI.com’s Jon Heyman and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, but before you start ordering Brewers jerseys with DeROSA stitched across the back, read on. Both stories say that the Indians would want pitching that can help them today. They’re not ready to give up on the season, and rightfully so since it’s May 20.

So if those are the criteria and you’re Doug Melvin and you’re interested in DeRosa, what kind of deal could you put together? The Brewers lead Major League Baseball in quality starts and the bullpen has been excellent since Trevor Hoffman took his spot at the back end. Would you be willing to trade away some of that stability for the improvement DeRosa would give you over a Craig Counsell//Hernan Iribarren/Casey McGehee platoon? Would DeRosa, a right-handed hitter and a .262 hitter at Miller Park, be an improvement over that group?

Those are the kind of questions Melvin and his staff has to ask.

Iribarren replaces Weeks on roster

Landed in Houston a while ago and got the not-so-surprising news that the Brewers promoted Triple-A Nashville second baseman Hernan Iribarren today to replace the injured Rickie Weeks.

Iribarren, who made his Major League debut in two stints with the Brewers last season, was hitting .311 in Nashville. The promotion no doubt came as good news for a player who got the bad news over the winter that he had qualified for an extra Minor League option. At the end of last season, Iribarren thought that he was out of options, meaning the Brewers would have had to keep him in the Majors or expose him to the other 29 teams on the waiver wire.

Iribarren is a left-handed hitter and also has outfield experience, though he appeared exclusively this season at second base.
 

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.

Where do Rottino, Iribarren fit?

Triple-A Nashville will have no shortage of utility men this season.

The Brewers optioned Hernan Iribarren to Nashville on Monday and returned Vinny Rottino to Minor League camp. Both players are headed Triple-A, but it’s difficult to pin down exactly where they will play.

Rottino’s fate was complicated by word Monday that the Brewers intend to send Carlos Corporan to Nashville to serve as the backup catcher to Angel Salome. Last year the Brewers installed Rottino as the starting catcher at Nashville with hopes of eventually advancing him to the big leagues as a backup. That experiment has essentially been abandoned, according to assistant general manager Gord Ash.

Rottino will catch “on occasion” this season, Ash said, and, “will be more of a true utility player.”

So will Iribarren, it appears. Assuming the Brewers keep out-of-options players Tony Gwynn Jr., Brad Nelson and Mike Lamb for the bench, the infield will be full with prospects Mat Gamel and Alcides Escobar on the left side, Scott Thorman at first base and probably Spring Training standout Casey McGehee at second. The team wants to play young outfielders Brendan Katin and Cole Gillespie in the outfield, and Chris Duffy would probably man center field. Iribarren presumably would pick up at-bats where he can get them.

Both Iribarren and Rottino have been Brewers farmhands for a long time — Iribarren since March 2002 and Rottino since February 2003. They both have had a taste of the big leagues and would love to get back, but it’s looking tough.
 

Brewers set pitching staff with latest cuts

The Brewers made another flurry of camp cuts on Monday that essentially set the team’s 12-man pitching staff for Opening Day and further clarified the three bench spots still up for grabs.

Milwaukee optioned infielder/outfielder Hernan Iribarren Triple-A Nashville, returned super-utility man Vinny Rottino to Minor League camp and informed nonroster pitchers Lindsay Gulin and Wes Littleton and catcher Carlos Corporan that they will not make the Opening Day roster. Gulin, Littleton and Corporan will travel with the team to Los Angeles for a pair of weekend exhibitions with the Dodgers and will also take part in team workouts in San Francisco next week before reporting to Triple-A Nashville to start the season.

The moves had a number of implications:

- The subtraction of Gulin and Littleton, combined with the news Monday that closer Trevor Hoffman had been placed on the disabled list with a ribcage injury, left the Brewers with 12 pitchers in camp. That meant roster spots for both Mark DiFelice and Jorge Julio, right-handed relievers who were competing for the final bullpen job.

With no additions from outside the organization over the next week, the staff will consist of starters Jeff Suppan, Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra, Braden Looper and Dave Bush (in that order to start the year) plus relievers Todd Coffey, DiFelice, Julio, Seth McClung, David Riske, Mitch Stetter and Carlos Villanueva.

- Three bench roles are still up for grabs. The Brewers will chose two outfielders from Chris Duffy, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Brad Nelson and one infielder from Mike Lamb and Casey McGehee. The Lamb/McGehee battle has been a good one, but both will make the cut if Craig Counsell, who was back in the lineup Monday after playing the previous two days in Minor League camp, has a setback and needs surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his right knee. 

- Gulin will join a starting rotation at Nashville also expected to include Chase Wright, Nick Green, Sam Narron and Tim Dillard. Left-hander Chris Narveson will be assigned to the bullpen, and the organization will make decisions on two other Triple-A pitchers — Richie Gardner and Matt Ginter — on Tuesday. Both of those pitchers have bullpen experience, Ash said.

Emptying the notebook…

- The Brewers’ veterans are doing everything they can to make sure third base prospect Mat Gamel “gets” the enormity of the opportunity he’s facing. Gamel, who is in his first big league camp, was a late arrival Friday morning apparently because his alarm clock failed, so a certain veteran catcher found a portable locker and moved every last one of Gamel’s belongings outside. Gamel arrived about 15 minutes before the team stretched and dressed under the morning sunshine.

It drew some smiles from the other young players, but this is serious business to the vets. Manager Ken Macha has already met twice with Gamel to lay down his expectations, and now he might have another chat. Earlier in camp, Gamel was nudged to buy lunch for the team after a late arrival.

He started Friday’s game as the designated hitter and got off to a rough start — 0-for-5, three strikeouts — before hitting a three-run home run in the ninth inning.

“It saved his day, he hit a homer,” Macha said. “The talent is there, he’s just trying to figure it out.”

- Just to be clear, we’re not trying to pick on Gamel, who is a supreme offensive talent. Macha has the same expectations for everyone, and sat down one of the veteran players on Thursday after he was late to the team’s stretch and tried to sneak in unnoticed.  

- Dave Bush worked with Minor League Jonathan Lucroy in Friday’s game against the Indians, but Macha is considering pairing Bush and Mike Rivera in the regular season. It appears that it’s down to Bush or Braden Looper/Seth McClung for Rivera, a move designed to give regular catcher Jason Kendall more rest.

For the record, Bush said he would have no problem with the pairing.

“I’ve worked with him a lot over the years and had some success,” Bush said. “I would be fine with it.”

- The Brewers’ second off-day of the spring is Tuesday, and Macha scheduled a morning “B” game at Surprise against the Rangers. It’s mostly to keep the starting pitchers on track, and in this case Seth McClung is scheduled to work.

- I think I have written before that infielder Hernan Iribarren is out of Minor League options, but that’s not the case. Brewers officials learned over the winter that Iribarren qualified for a fourth option, meaning he can be sent out to Triple-A Nashville at the end of camp.

I haven’t mentioned Iribarren in the mix of outfielders because I have barely seen him out there. He played a few innings in left field against the Angels, but it’s a bit curious that he has not seen more outfield action given the Brewers’ thin ranks.

- Played basketball on Thursday night with an agent who broke my heart with the news that all-time good guy Matt Wise has retired. Wise, who pitched for the Brewers from 2004-2007 and was a Tommy John surgery success story, struggled with injuries all last year with the Mets. He threw for teams over the winter but the pain was too much.

- Macha and I are going to end up arm wrestling over who gets the pork chop at Frasher’s Restaurant in Scottsdale named in his honor. Macha is a black belt, so I’d put my money on him.

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