Results tagged ‘ Jeff Suppan ’

Suppan the pick for fifth starter?

Rehabbing Brewers right-hander Jeff Suppan threw a bullpen session on Tuesday and will head out for a Minor League start later this week. Assuming that goes well, there were strong indications that he will return as the Brewers’ fifth starter, perhaps as early as next Wednesday or Thursday in Chicago. 
Brewers manager Ken Macha said he would probably reveal more about Suppan’s travel plans on Wednesday, when the team wraps up its season-opening series against the Rockies. Off-days on Thursday and Tuesday are allowing Macha to operate for now with only four starting pitchers. 
“There are a lot of different ways it could go, so just let us figure it out,” he said. 
Asked whether the most likely scenario had Suppan stepping in as the fifth starter, assistant general manager Gord Ash said, “It could be, but we haven’t got that far yet.”
Suppan started the season on the 15-day disabled list with a neck injury. He’s eligible to be activated beginning Saturday. 
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Suppan to pitch Sunday

Brewers right-hander Jeff Suppan is scheduled to pitch an intrasquad game at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix on Sunday and will then travel to Milwaukee for the team’s season opener against the Rockies on Monday afternoon. Suppan is beginning the 15-day disabled list with a neck injury. 
Where his rehabilitation takes him after Monday remains to be seen, according to Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash. 
“We’ll see how he is after [Sunday's outing],” Ash said. “Rick [Peterson, Milwaukee's pitching coach] will give us some input on what he sees and hears and we will go from there.”
Suppan is eligible to return from the disabled list on April 10. The Brewers don’t plan to use a fifth starter until April 14 or 15 in Chicago. 
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Suppan on board with DL move

Brewers right-hander Jeff Suppan on Wednesday disputed the notion that his placement on the 15-day disabled list was just a convenient way for the team to solve its fifth starter quandary. 

“No, absolutely not,” said Suppan, whose neck injury was described by the team as “cervical disc pain.” “It wasn’t something that I walked around talking about, but I was getting treatment every day, all spring, and I never was able to knock [the pain] out.
“It wasn’t a big deal. I got here and thought I had a stiff neck, and they did some tests and thought that it would just take some time to pitch through. But at some point it really plateaued. I still felt it. So we did the MRI and it was what they thought it was — a disc problem. So it’s a situation where we can let it heal.”
Suppan threw six simulated innings at Maryvale Baseball Park on Tuesday morning with no apparent trouble but met immediately afterward with assistant general manager Gord Ash, who explained the process of placing Suppan on the DL. It was not the first time that the DL was raised as a possibility this spring, and Suppan was on board with the move.
He will remain in Phoenix while the rest of the team breaks camp Thursday and heads north to Milwaukee for exhibition games against the Tigers. He’ll travel separately on Sunday afternoon and should be at Miller Park for Monday’s season opener. 
“I feel it’s very minor,” he said. “I’m not overly concerned. This is the time, before the season starts, to get back where I need to be.”
Before 2008, Suppan had been on the DL only once in his Major League career, in 1996 for a strained right elbow. Now he’s found his way to the DL in three straight seasons: in 2008 for an irritated elbow, in 2009 for a torn rib-cage muscle and now in 2010 for the neck. 
In five Cactus League starts, Suppan has allowed 21 hits including six home runs in 16 1/3 innings. He has a 7.71 ERA but cannot say whether the stiff neck affected him on the mound this spring. 
“I don’t think so,” Suppan said. “It definitely affected some throwing early in spring, because I was taking it easy and they were checking me every day. There were a lot of days when I felt really normal, but then the next day it would be stiff again.
 
“I just want to get it right,” Suppan said. “This is a situation where it’s minor, but let’s be sure it’s better.”
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Suppan placed on DL with neck issue

The Brewers whittled their choices for a fifth starter down to two on Tuesday when they placed right-hander Jeff Suppan on the 15-day disabled list with a neck injury. 
Suppan’s stint on the DL with cervical disc pain was backdated to March 26, so he will be eligible to return on April 10. The Brewers probably won’t use a fifth starter until April 15 against the Cubs, so Suppan presumably could re-join the competition, but for now it’s down to left-handers Chris Narveson and Manny Parra. 
The injury also means that right-hander Carlos Villanueva’s Opening Day spot in the bullpen is likely safe. Had the Brewers kept Narveson, Parra and Suppan on the 25-man roster, Villanueva may have been vulnerable because he has Minor League options remaining.

Suppan worked a simulated game at the Brewers’ Minor League complex on Tuesday morning without any apparent issues, but the club revealed that he has been getting treatment all spring for a sore neck. The issue first presented during Suppan’s entry physical before the start of camp, and an MRI scan on Monday night confirmed some pathology. 

“They discovered [during the original physical] that there was some pain radiating into his arms,” Ash said. “Dr. [William] Raasch and some other doctors looked at him and felt that it was something that with some conservative care he might be able to get through. As the spring has gone on, it hasn’t dissipated as much as either Jeff or we would have hoped.”
Suppan will remain a few extra days at Maryvale Baseball Park for treatment when the Brewers break camp Thursday afternoon. But with a modified workload he should be back to 100 percent “relatively quickly,” Ash said. 
The injury news came as something of a surprise on Tuesday since neither Suppan nor club officials had mentioned it. Cue the conspiracy theorists, who mused on message boards and talk radio lines about the convenient way a difficult roster decision was taken out of club officials’ hands. 
“You can certainly speculate on that, but we are not looking at it that way,” Ash said. “You never like to put anybody on the disabled list if you don’t have to, but this is a situation that we feel, not only for now but for the longer term, is the best solution.” 
In a separate move, the Brewers voided right-hander Josh Butler’s option to Triple-A Nashville and placed him on the Major League 15-day disabled list with an impingement in his elbow. The assignment was backdated to March 22. 
Butler did not throw a single pitch in big league camp because of the injury. The rules state that teams cannot option out injured players, but often there is some grey area, and when Butler’s agent, Dan Horwitz, called Ash to discuss that grey area, the sides revisited the issue.
An MRI scan on Monday revealed what Ash termed, “minor findings.” So the Brewers reversed the roster move.
“I had a conversation with Josh a week ago or so and tried to assure him that we weren’t trying to skirt the rules,” Ash said. “We will do the right thing and put him back on the Major League disabled list, but he should be ready to go relatively quickly.”
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Brewers say Suppan has stiff neck

Brewers manager Ken Macha formally named Dave Bush the team’s No. 4 starter on Tuesday but provided a detail that further clouded the race for the No. 5 slot. 

Jeff Suppan has been getting treatment throughout the spring for a stiff neck and one of the various scenarios has him beginning the season on the disabled list, Macha said. Instead of pitching Suppan in Tuesday’s “A” game against the Angels, the Brewers organized a simulated game in Minor League camp for Suppan. He was expected to throw about 90 pitches. 
The DL is only one of a series of possibilities, but Tuesday’s ‘sim’ game could allow the Brewers to shorten a potential season-opening stint on the 15-day disabled list. Such assignments can be backdated to March 26, providing the player doesn’t pitch in an official Spring Training game.  

Chris Narveson was to start against the Angels and Manny Parra will follow in relief. Narveson, Parra and Suppan are the candidates for the fifth starter’s role, which might not be used until the Brewers’ April 12-15 series at Wrigley Field against the Cubs and is not absolutely needed until the series after that, in Washington. 
Narveson and Parra are out of options and Suppan is guaranteed $12.5 million this season in the final year of his contract. The Brewers have made a priority of preserving their depth after struggling last season to overcome injuries to Suppan and Bush. 
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The lineup against the Angels:

Carlos Gomez  CF

Alcides Escobar  SS
Rickie Weeks DH
Prince Fielder  1B
Casey McGehee  3B
Corey Hart  RF
Adam Stern  LF
Brett Lawrie  2B
George Kottaras  C
Ryan Braun is getting one more day off for a stiff back but said he expects to play Wednesday against the Cubs. Macha held out catcher Gregg Zaun one more day because of a sore quadriceps but called that injury very minor. Outfielder Jim Edmonds traveled home to California on Monday night to tend to a family emergency. 
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Fifth starter still in flux

Barring some unexpected next-day soreness for Dave Bush, the Brewers’ first four starters are set. The No. 5 slot, meanwhile, remains a mystery. 
The candidates are left-handers Chris Narveson and Manny Parra and right-hander Jeff Suppan, all of whom are on schedule to pitch Tuesday. Brewers manager Ken Macha said Narveson would start the afternoon Cactus League game against the Angels and Parra would follow in relief, but he said curiously little about Suppan. 
“Hopefully I’ll be able to answer that for you [Tuesday] morning,” Macha said. 
That raised some eyebrows because it is uncharacteristic for the schedule to be so fluid, especially for a 15-year veteran like Suppan. He has not been particularly sharp this spring, but he’s entering the final season of a four-year contract and is guaranteed $12.5 million.
Parra, 27, and Narveson, 28, are both out of options and the Brewers are hesitant to risk losing either lefty. The Brewers could keep all three pitchers on the Opening Day roster if they are willing to keep two of them in the bullpen. Otherwise, some kind of roster move is in order. 
If it involves Suppan, 35, it could be an expensive one. 
Macha was pressed on Monday about his vague answers regarding Suppan. Is some kind of roster move coming?
“There could be a roster move at any time, let’s put it that way,” Macha said. “This is the end of Spring Training, so stuff like that happens. There are moves every day.” 
Indeed, the team returned first baseman Joe Koshansky to Minor League camp after Monday’s game. Stay tuned to see if there is more roster manipulation on Tuesday.
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A true off-day

On second thought, Manny Parra will enjoy a day off with the rest of his Brewers teammates on Wednesday. 

It’s the team’s only scheduled off-day all spring, and manager Ken Macha decided Tuesday morning that it would be just that for all players and staff. Originally, Parra was scheduled to throw a Minor League intrasquad game to stay on schedule for the season. Instead, he will follow starter Jeff Suppan in Thursday’s game against the Dodgers. 
Macha might have gotten the idea from the Dodgers. On Monday, Clayton Kershaw started and worked the first five innings before Russ Ortiz handled the final four frames. 
The relievers who were supposed to follow Suppan — LaTroy Hawkins, Todd Coffey and Mitch Stetter — will pitch in a simulated game that day instead. 
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Within the past few days, Brewers officials told a couple of pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery that they would continue their rehabilitation from the Minor League complex. Left-hander Chris Capuano and right-hander David Riske will eventually be assigned to Class A Brevard County in the warm-weather Florida State League, Macha said. Capuano is ahead of Riske in his progression.
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The following players were released from the Brewers’ Minor League system on Tuesday:
LHP Donald Brandt
INF John Delaney
INF Jose Duran
RHP Joel Morales
INF Yohannis Perez
RHP Ryan Platt
LHP David Welch
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Crew taking its time on rotation decisions

The Brewers are making arrangements to give themselves as much time as possible to render decisions about the back end of their starting rotation. 
They scheduled a “B” game against the Rangers for Thursday that will allow Dave Bush and Manny Parra to continue working on the same day, and are trying to schedule another for Sunday against the White Sox to allow Chris Narveson to continue pitching on the same day as Randy Wolf. On Tuesday, Wolf pitched a Minor League intrasquad game so Brewers officials could evaluate Narveson in the afternoon’s Cactus League game against the Royals. 
Bush, Narveson and Parra and competing along with Jeff Suppan for two openings in the rotation. 
“We’ve still got a lot of time to figure that out,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. “We talk about it every day.”
Narveson delivered four more scoreless innings against the Royals on Tuesday and has yet to allow a run in three Spring Training starts. He’s building off a strong finish to last season, when Narveson went 1-0 with a 2.73 ERA in five relief appearances and four starts to win the team’s pitcher of the month honor for September/October. 
The Brewers announced before the game that Bush would start an afternoon “B” game against the Rangers before Parra takes the mound for the regularly-scheduled nighttime affair. 
“I talked to Doug about it and I think we’d like to see Parra pitch in the ‘A’ game,” manager Ken Macha said. “We want to see the progress that he’s making. Bush has background and track record. If he’s healthy, he’s going to be able to pitch, and he appears to be healthy. We’re looking for improvement from Parra, and he’s shown that so far.”
Suppan’s next turn in the spring rotation should come Friday against the Angels.
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More praise for Peterson

Peterson.jpgHey Brewers pitchers, raise your hands if they have been a topic of conversation with Rick Peterson this spring.

Veteran right-hander Jeff Suppan on Tuesday became the latest Brewers pitcher to say that Peterson had made a welcome suggestion about his hand positioning and movement. Peterson has suggested to many pitchers in camp that they lower their hands and move them along with their legs during their delivery.

The goal is creating rhythm, and a more natural arm slot. Yovani Gallardo, Dave Bush, Manny Parra and Chris Capuano have all said previously that they made a similar tweak at Peterson’s urging. Suppan said Tuesday that he has been thrilled with the results.

“I think I had gotten to being stagnant with them and he added some movement,” Suppan said. “It is really helping. I have seen better movement on my pitches than I’ve seen in a long time. It’s still an adjustment throwing out of the stretch because my timing is off with my hands going up in my leg lift, but I’m working on that every day.”

That was evident on Tuesday, when Suppan surrendered three Cubs runs on five hits in three innings. Much of that damage came in the second inning, when Suppan worked from the stretch after Marlon Byrd led off with a double.

Parra was talking about the same topic after his outing against the Mariners on Monday. Parra, too, has been working with Peterson to find a rhythm by moving his hands a bit more during his delivery.

“I know there were times last year that I was a little stiff,” Parra said. “[On Monday], my rhythm was still a little off. I think I attribute that to adrenaline.”

Suppan said he was thinking of a tweak along these lines over the winter but that Peterson “hit the nail on the head” on the first day of Spring Training.

“I just knew my pitches weren’t having action, and the hitters were letting me know that as well,” Suppan said. “With that little adjustment, getting my hands moving with my leg, it got my arm in a better position and my fingers on top of the ball. I was very excited about that.

“I think I was doing that in the past. I just wasn’t aware that I was doing it of late.”

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Emptying Thursday's notebook

Some final notes after a 5-3 loss to the Giants in Scottsdale…

Jeff Suppan threw fastballs and changeups in an uneventful six-up, six-down spring debut and was happy with his afternoon. He focused on spotting his fastball and keeping his change-up low in the strike zone. 
“I felt good,” he said. “My goal was to go out and get ahead. That was No. 1. No. 2, I wanted to have a good downhill plane. I felt like I accomplished that.”
Suppan had to do a double-take when Giants starter Barry Zito drilled Prince Fielder with a pitch. (You can read some more about that later on Brewers.com.) 
“I was like, ‘What?’ I had to think what happened,” Suppan said. “Then, I remembered.”
Macha called the Zito-Fielder incident a, “non-issue.”
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Macha found a number of silver linings to the afternoon, and one of them didn’t show up in the box score. In Weeks’ second at-bat, he checked his swing on a Todd Wellemeyer pitch in the dirt without any complications. That was something of a big deal to Macha considering that Weeks is returning from a 2009 season mostly lost to wrist surgery. Weeks was injured on a check swing last year, Macha said. 
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Ryan Braun should make his spring debut on Friday after getting Thursday afternoon off but Macha couldn’t say for sure whether shortstop Alcides Escobar would start. Escobar had two root canals on Thursday (ouch) and has another dentist appointment scheduled for next week. 
On Friday, we should be able to provide more of an injury report on third baseman Mat Gamel, who was scratched Thursday because of a sore right shoulder, and pitcher Josh Butler, who has been bumped back a bit because of his own sore right arm. 
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Macha cautioned against reading too much into center fielder Carlos Gomez hitting second on Thursday. “We had problems with our two- and our five-hole last year, so we’ll give some [different] guys a chance to go out there,” Macha said. 
Speaking of the outfield, look for Jim Edmonds to get the start in center field or right field on Friday against the A’s. It’s Ben Sheets against Yovani Gallardo, whose contract was renewed Thursday, at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. If you have MLB.com’s gameday audio package, you can listen to the exclusive webcast at Brewers.com. Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder will step behind the mic for the first time this year. 
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