Results tagged ‘ Jason Kendall ’

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.

Rivera banged up, too

Add Mike Rivera’s name to today’s extensive injury report. He left the field at the start of batting practice on Thursday with assistant athletic trainer Dan Wright because of a strained hamstring. I’m not sure which one because Rivera was hesitant to confirm that he was hurt.

Manager Ken Macha has been alternating between Jason Kendall and Rivera this spring to see how Rivera matches up with the various Brewers starters. It sounded on Thursday like Macha was leaning toward a Rivera-Dave Bush pairing, a move that would allow Kendall to get more days of rest during the season than he did in 2008, when Kendall led the Majors with 149 starts.

If it’s not Bush, the most likely partner would be Braden Looper. Jeff Suppan has made it known to Macha that he prefers Kendall, and Macha appears to want Kendall to catch youngsters Yovani Gallardo and Manny Parra.

UPDATE at 3:10 p.m. CT: Brewers spokesman Mike Vassallo just announced that it’s Rivera’s right hamstring, and he received a cortisone injection. Rivera will be sidelined 5-7 days. 

Emptying the notebook…

– Outfielder Ryan Braun is the Brewers’ resident fashion mogul. A story about his new clothing line, Remetee, will be on later today.

– The Brewers were unable to find a willing opponent for a “B” game on March 4 so manager Ken Macha instead scheduled an intrasquad game to keep his pitchers on track. For now, that’s left-hander Manny Parra’s day to pitch, and he will face a lineup of Minor Leaguers assembled by farm director Reid Nichols.

The Brewers do have a “B” game scheduled for March 10 in Surprise, Ariz. against the Rangers. They will play another intrasquad game on Tuesday in advance of the Feb. 25 Cactus League opener.

– Assistant general manager Gord Ash had his sit-down with Mat Gamel, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Macha was also there as the Brewers laid out their expectations for Gamel, who once again has a surprise injury. The good news is that his right shoulder impingement is not considered serious, and while Gamel is limited from throwing he was able to take part in batting practice on Thursday.

– Brewers pitchers faced hitters for the first time on Thursday. R.J. Swindle’s slow, looping curveball elicited some awkward swings, and some of the club’s baseball officials gathered to watch Trevor Hoffman face a group that included Brad Nelson.

– A downright skinny Ray King dropped by Maryvale Baseball Park and said he’s looking for a job. King, a left-handed reliever who pitched for the Brewers from 2000-2002 and again at the end of 2007, appeared in only 12 games last season for Washington but posted a 2.25 ERA in 32 games for the Astros’ Triple-A club and then pitched well in the Dominican Republic over the winter. He said he has been throwing at his nearby home in Litchfield park, Ariz. and is open to even a Triple-A job. The offseason market has not been kind to the 35-year-old.

“Crickets,” King said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

– Brewers Minor Leaguer Alex Periard was thrilled when the Brewers signed Eric Gagne and assigned him a spot in the clubhouse four lockers away. Periard and Gagne are both natives of Quebec, and Periard has never had a Franch-speaking teammate. Gagne has; he teamed with catcher Russell Martin in Los Angeles.

– Jeff Suppan took the “gold medal” in a bunting competition earlier this week between Brewers pitchers. Lindsay Gulin won the silver medal and Mark Rogers took home the bronze.

– Macha plans to control opponents’ running game from the bench this season. Last year, then-bench coach Ted Simmons allowed catchers Jason Kendall and Mike Rivera to do it themselves, meaning the players didn’t have to look into the dugout for signs calling for pickoffs and the like. Macha thinks coaches have a better perspective of what opponents are trying to do from the bench.

– Third base coach Brad Fisher started a new camp tradition on Thursday. Every morning before the Brewers stretch, one of the team’s Minor Leaguers will be subjected to a question and answer session. Judging by the laughter coming from the group that surrounded catching prospect Angel Salome, there were some good questions.

– The MLB Network is making the rounds in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues and will feature the Brewers on Sunday, March 15 at 7 p.m. CT. Former FSN Wisconsin sideline reporter Trenni Kusnierek will file the report.

Kendall to catch less in '09?

Jason Kendall led the Majors with 149 starts in 2009 including each of Milwaukee’s final 34 regular-season games. But if his new manager gets his way — and Major League managers tend to get just that — Kendall will spend a bit more time resting his knees in 2009.

Brewers skipper Ken Macha intends to pair his backup, probably Mike Rivera, with one of Milwaukee’s five starting pitchers in an effort to get Rivera more playing time while keeping Kendall fresh for key games at the end of the season. It will be a loose pairing, Macha stressed, and he knows he’ll get plenty of resistance from Kendall, who turns 36 in June.

“I could see him getting at least one day off a week, but he’s not going to be happy about it,” said Macha, who was Kendall’s manager in Oakland in 2005 and 2006. “It’s just too bad.”

Macha installed a similar set-up in 2006, when backup Adam Melhuse caught Esteban Loaiza’s early-season starts. But at some point, Loaiza asked for Kendall, and Kendall ended up starting 141 games that season. In 2005, Kendall started 146 games. He’s the only catcher in baseball to make at least 130 starts in each of the last seven seasons.

“We’ll just have to see how it goes,” Macha said. “I don’t want to go down to the end of the year and have my catcher’s tongue dragging down on the ground. That would be nonproductive.”

Macha will make his decision during Spring Training, but he did say he may prefer to pair Rivera with one of the team’s veteran starters. That could rule out left-hander Manny Parra, though Rivera and Parra were paired often last season, and Rivera caught Parra’s perfect game for Triple-A Nashville in 2007.

Rivera was in the big leagues all of last season but, somewhat remarkably, he played in only 17 games and started only 13. He’s not exactly a huge drop-off; in just 62 at-bats over 21 games, Rivera batted .306 and drove in 14 runs.