Results tagged ‘ Jorge Julio ’

Brewers cut ties with Julio, call on Burns

The Brewers added a fresh arm to their sagging bullpen on Tuesday when they promoted journeyman right-hander Mike Burns from Triple-A Nashville and released Jorge Julio after a brief and mostly ineffective tenure with the team. 

The Brewers owe Julio what’s left of his $950,000 salary but apparently ran out of patience with the former Orioles closer. Julio was charged with five runs in Monday’s 7-4 loss to the Marlins without recording an out in the sixth inning, an outing that boosted his ERA to a staff-worst 7.79. He allowed 15 hits and 15 walks in 17 1/3 innings and hit four batters, including Florida’s Jorge Cantu on Monday night to force home the go-ahead run.

Burns, 30, is a veteran of 45 relief appearances with a 5.88 ERA for the Reds, Astros and Red Sox in 2005 and 2006. He was 6-2 with a 2.98 ERA at Nashville this season and was 6-0 before losing his two most recent starts.

The Brewers had to add Burns to the 40-man roster. He is wearing No. 47 in the big leagues and will be in uniform Tuesday night, when Manny Parra faces the Marlins at Land Shark Stadium.

UPDATE at 2:40 p.m. CT — I just noticed that Gord Ash “tweeted” the corresponding move for Nashville. Left-hander Chris Cody, who was 5-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 10 starts for Double-A Huntsville, earned a promotion.

Burns tops list of possible bullpen call-ups

The Brewers are expected to promote a pitcher from Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday to bolster a suddenly-thin bullpen, and it could mean a return to the big leagues for journeyman Mike Burns.

Brewers officials said they would wait until Tuesday to make a move, but manager Ken Macha’s bullpen needs immediate help. Right-hander Mark DiFelice is out at least one more day with a sore elbow and Macha would like to give fellow righty Seth McClung another day off after working three innings on Saturday against the Reds. Another right-hander, Jorge Julio, continued to slide on Macha’s depth chart after he surrendered five runs and the lead without recording an out in Monday’s 7-4 loss to the Marlins.

Brewers relievers worked three innings on Monday and have pitched 11 2/3 innings in the last three days. Tuesday’s scheduled starter is left-hander Manny Parra, who has worked 10 innings over his last two starts.

Burns, 30, and a veteran of 45 Major League relief appearances for the Reds, Astros and Red Sox in 2005 and 2006, is 6-2 with a 2.98 ERA in 10 starts this season for Nashville. He was 6-0 before losing his last two starts, and could be an attractive addition to a bullpen in need of an innings-eater. Burns has 40 strikeouts versus 11 walks in 63 1/3 innings this season. 

The Brewers could also recall left-hander R.J. Swindle, who has already pitched two stints with the Brewers this season, but the Marlins are stocked mostly with right-handed hitters. Right-hander Tim Dillard would have been an attractive choice, but he pitched seven innings on Sunday.

The Brewers would have to add Burns to the 40-man roster, and would also have to have to make a clear a spot on the 25-man roster.

Since the Brewers are somewhat thin on the infield in the wake of Rickie Weeks’ season-ending wrist injury and could also be thin in the outfield if center fielder Mike Cameron misses time with a flare-up of tendinitis in his left knee, Julio’s spot could be in jeopardy. He has walked 15 batters in 17 1/3 innings this season.

“I’ve said this a bunch, we have a bunch of extra guys and they come out and have a certain role they need to fill,” Macha said. “It’s the same with the pitching staff. You just can’t operate with 24 guys. Everybody has to be a contributor.”

The Crew's ultimate warrior finds his tune

All that was missing from Todd Coffey’s entrance was the right musical accompaniment. It appears he’s found it.
Coffey Warrior copy.jpg
Some fans of baseball and professional wrestling have noticed that Coffey made a pair of entrances this week to the same heavy metal riff that used to accompany the Ultimate Warrior, who was known for his all-out race from the smoke-filled arena tunnel to the ring. Coffey doesn’t have any dry ice out in the bullpen, but he makes a similar entrance, sprinting all-out from the bullpen to the mound.

A blogger wisely suggested the connection a month ago, but the idea came from Brewers PR director and walking encyclopedia of pro wrestling Mike Vassallo. Vassallo suggested the song to Coffey and loaded it onto his iPod. 

“I took it home and gave it a listen and it was like, ‘Yeah, this fits,'” Coffey said. “There’s no words and it’s hard, to the point. I said, “This is me. It’s perfect.'”

Vassallo, by the way, also suggested Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” for Jorge Julio. But he can’t take credit for Trevor Hoffman’s use of AC/DC’s “Hells Bells,” though that one also came from a front office. As the story goes, a Padres official, inspired by the film “Major League,” suggested that Hoffman adpot a signature song. After “Hells Bells” debuted on July 25, 1998, it stuck.

Historically bad inning for Suppan, Julio

Brewers starter Jeff Suppan and reliever Jorge Julio tied a modern Major League record tonight by combining to issue four bases-loaded walks in the fourth inning against the Cubs. Since divisional play began in 1969 that’s only happened nine times, including twice in the past five days. The Braves gifted the Phillies four runs via walks on Wednesday.

Suppan was responsible for three of the free passes. He walked No. 8 hitter Koyie Hill with one out and the pitcher on deck to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. After recording the second out, Suppan then walked Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome after working to full counts. He was replaced by Julio, who walked Derrek Lee on four pitches to make it 5-1.

And wouldn’t you know it, the Brewers almost stormed right back. Corey Hart hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning and Prince Fielder was inches away from a game-tying grand slam in the fifth. Reed Johnson, who had just replaced an injured Milton Bradley, pulled back Fielder’s fly ball and turned it into one of the most dramatic sacrifice flies I’ve ever seen.

Fielder tipped his batting helmet to Johnson. What a play.

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.

Gameday: March 22 vs. Giants

Another day, yet another game against the San Francisco Giants. Doesn’t it seem like the Brewers and Giants have played 100 times this spring, and that Carlos Villanueva has pitched in every one of them? He’s in there again today, scheduled to work in relief of starter Mark DiFelice.

Here’s the starting lineup:

Rickie Weeks  2B
J.J. Hardy  SS
Corey Hart  RF
Prince Fielder  1B
Bill Hall  3B
Mike Cameron  CF
Chris Duffy  LF
Jason Kendall  C
Mark DiFelice  RHP

DiFelice is slated for two innings and 30 pitches. Besides Villanueva, who is down for three innings and 45 pitchers in an effort to sharpen him up, relievers Todd Coffey and Sam Narron are scheduled to work today.

Some notes from Macha’s morning meeting with reporters:

Bad news on the Trevor Hoffman front. His oblique strain is not getting any better, and the team’s trainers don’t expect him back on the mound until the end of the week at the earliest. It is becoming more and more likely that Hoffman won’t be ready for Opening Day.

– Manny Parra developed some minor back spasms and missed his scheduled bullpen session on Saturday. He’s still scheduled to make his next start on Wednesday and will be working with one extra day of rest because Tuesday is an off-day for the team.

– Macha once again described his bullpen picture as “cloudy,” and met at length Sunday morning with general manager Doug Melvin to discuss the options. Villanueva and Seth McClung remain the leading contenders to fill-in for Hoffman, Macha said. He doesn’t see David Riske as an option until Riske pitches at least one good outing, and Macha also said he’s not at the point of considering former Orioles closer Jorge Julio, who reached 97 mph on the radar gun on Saturday against the Angels. Julio is still competing for a bullpen spot, though.

– Angel Salome (back) took some swings on Saturday and “felt weird,” according to the manager. Just a hunch, but I don’t think we’re going to see much of Mr. Salome during the final two weeks of camp.

– Duffy is rehydrated and back in the lineup after missing parts of three days with a stomach ailment.

– The Brewers considered giving Villanueva this start but instead tabbed DiFelice in what Macha termed a, “manager’s decision.” Macha wants to see how DiFelice, who relies on movement, fares against the Giants’ starting lineup.

– To get DiFelice and Villanueva stretched out in the “A” game, the Brewers moved Jeff Suppan to a Triple-A game against the Salt Lake Bees. It’s a home game for the Nashville Sounds, so Suppan will pitch on one of the side fields at Maryvale Baseball Park.

– No matter where you are in the Valley, it’s a bad day to be a pitcher. The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory today, and wouldn’t you know it, the wind is blowing straight out to center field at the moment. The winds are expected to reach 25-35 mph with gusts up to 45 mph.

Gameday: March 3 vs. Rockies

Reliever Jorge Julio will celebrate his 30th birthday with a day off, but a bunch of his teammates will be in action against the Rockies at Maryvale Baseball Park.

Rickie Weeks                2B
Chris Duffy                     LF
J.J. Hardy                     SS
Prince Fielder                1B
Corey Hart                     RF
Mike Cameron               CF
Mike Rivera                   C
Casey McGehee            3B
Yovani Gallardo             RHP

Trevor Hoffman, Carlos Villanueva, Mitch Stetter, Omar Aguilar and Chase Wright are also scheduled to pitch.

The Brewers did pass along news this morning that right-hander Braden Looper will miss his next start Thursday because of tightness in an oblique muscle at the back of his ribcage, but did immediately not elaborate on the extent of the injury. Seth McClung will start that day instead as the Brewers play an exhibition against Australia’s entry to the World Baseball Classic.

No further news yet about Tony Gwynn Jr.’s MRI scan on Monday. I am hoping to catch up with assistant GM Gord Ash today for that information.

Let the games begin

The main stadium is finally filled with ballplayers today for an intrasquad game that precedes Wednesday’s Cactus League opener. Some particulars about those games, starting with Wednesday’s tilt against the A’s:

– Pitchers on the list to throw Wednesday include starter Jeff Suppan, who will throw two innings or 30 pitches, followed by Dave Bush, who will work an inning in advance of his first start on Sunday. Trevor Hoffman is scheduled for his unofficial Brewers debut, followed by Eddie Morlan, Lindsay Gulin, Nick Green, Todd Coffey and Jorge Julio.

– Macha did not unveil his lineup in advance, but the Brewers’ regular starting position players will be at their spots with the exception of third baseman Bill Hall, who is cautiously working back from a partially torn calf muscle. Mike Lamb will likely start at third on Wednesday.

– A’s skipper Bob Geren called Macha on Monday to see if the Brewers were interested in employing the designated hitter. Macha declined, saying he wanted his pitchers to practice bunting.

– As for Tuesday’s intrasquad game, it’s Eddie’s Elite, managed by first base coach Ed Sedar, against Fischer’s Fanatistics, the home team managed by third base coach Brad Fischer. The game was scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. CT, and position players will bat once or twice before a Minor Leaguer takes over. 

Here are the starting lineups:

Eddie’s Elite
1. Corey Hart  RF
2. Craig Counsell  2B
3. Ryan Braun  LF
4. Prince Fielder  1B
5. Mike Rivera  C
6. Mat Gamel  DH
7. Vinny Rottino  3B
8. Alcides Escobar  SS
9. Chris Duffy  CF
Scheduled pitchers: LHP Chase Wright, RHP Tim Dillard, LHP Chris Narveson and LHP R.J. Swindle

Fischer’s Fantastics
1. Rickie Weeks  2B
2. Jason Kendall  C
3. Mike Cameron  CF
4. J.J. Hardy  SS
5. Trot Nixon  LF
6. Brad Nelson  RF
7. Casey McGehee  3B
8. Mike Lamb  1B
9. Tony Gwynn, Jr.  DH
Scheduled pitchers: RHP Braden Looper, RHP Mark
DiFelice, LHP Sam Narron and RHP Omar Aguilar

UPDATE at 1:45 p.m. CT:  It was nine up, nine down for Brewers pitchers before Hardy began 2009 the way he ended 2008. Hardy hit an 0-and-1 pitch from Dillard for a home run to left-center field leading off the bottom of the second inning. It’s 1-0, Fantastics.

And the regulars are already hitting the showers. Hart, Counsell, Braun, Weeks, Kendall, Cameron, Fielder and Rivera all left the game after one at-bat, making way for Minor Leaguers on loan from the other half of the complex.

UPDATE at 2:14 p.m. CT: With so many defensive changes in this game, it looks like Lamb has the MVP award locked up. Lamb made a diving stop at first base in the top of the second inning and shoveled to DiFelice for a tough out against Mat Gamel, then drove in the Fantastics’ second run in the bottom of the second inning with a sacrifice fly. That made it 2-0, but Scott Thorman got one run back in the top of the third inning with an RBI single.

UPDATE at 2:58 p.m. CT: Didn’t get this in before we had to meet Macha on the field, but 2-1 was the final score, with Lamb’s sacrifice fly representing the winning run for Fischer’s Fantastics. Time of game was 55 minutes, prompting calls for four-inning games throughout Spring Training. 

Gagne wants to "pay back" Brewers

Here are some quotes from new Brewer Eric Gagne, who returned to Maryvale Baseball Park on Wednesday as a Minor Leaguer on a mission:

“I let the team and the organization down,” said Gagne, who inked a Minor League deal with the Brewers and reported to big league camp just in time for a physical exam and Milwaukee’s first full-squad workout. “The one thing is that it’s easy to succeed, it’s hard to fail. …

“They paid me a lot of money last year and I didn’t really deliver. This is a little bit of payback.”

On being a $10 million bust last season:  “You look at your paycheck every two weeks and it’s like, ‘Man, that’s crazy what I get paid for,’ and you put pressure on yourself,” Gagne said. “I felt bad about it. I want to pitch good. I was happy with the season because we made the playoffs, but I was disappointed because I knew [general manager Doug Melvin] took a chance on me last year, he stuck his neck out. … He gets judged on all his moves, [especially] the big moves, and it didn’t work out with me.”

On whether he turned down Major League offers from other teams to wait for a better deal that never came:  “I’m not going to talk about that one,” Gagne said. “Yes and no. It was a weird offseason, let’s put it that way.”

He added: “I could have retired, but I’m not done.”

As I wrote yesterday and again this morning, Gagne has no assurances about a job and has tough competition from pitchers already on the 40-man roster. Barring injuries, I see two open spots and five 40-man guys with a shot: Jorge Julio, Todd Coffey, Eddie Morlan, Mark DiFelice and Tim Dillard.

Spring surprise: Gagne back with the Brewers

I had just left Maryvale Baseball Park for the day when Brewers spokesman Mike Vassallo texted a shocker: Eric Gagne is re-joining the Brewers.

He won’t exactly make the $10 million he pocketed last season, and general manager Doug Melvin made it clear Gagne received no guarantees he’ll get a job. Gagne agreed to a Minor League contract that includes an invitation to big league camp and an out clause that will allow him back to free agency if he doesn’t get a 40-man roster spot before the end of Spring Training.

“He’s got to win a job,” Melvin said. “He came to me at the end of the season and told me he felt he didn’t earn his [salary], that he didn’t pitch the way he wanted to pitch for what he was being paid. He said he felt indebted to us to come back in and give it another shot for us.

“I didn’t expect that, and I respect the fact that he stood up and said, ‘I didn’t pitch well.’ He came to me and said, ‘I’m sorry I disappointed you.’ But he pitched well at the end of the year and that’s what counted, so I give him a lot of credit for that.”

Gagne joins a crowded bullpen. Trevor Hoffman is the closer and Carlos Villanueva, David Riske and Seth McClung and at least one left-hander from Mitch Stetter or R.J. Swindle are ticketed for what will probably be a seven-man relief corps. Assuming only one lefty makes the cut, it would leave only two more spots for a field of competitors led by 40-man roster members Todd Coffey, Jorge Julio, Mark DiFelice and Rule 5 pick Eduardo Morlan.

Melvin said Gagne’s decision to sign had nothing to do with the team’s decision to cancel a trip by top pro scout Dick Groch to see free agent reliever Chad Cordero throw in California on Wednesday. Cordero’s camp informed clubs that he will only be throwing at about 80 percent of total effort, so the Brewers instead will send their local scouts.

The Brewers are not interested in former St. Louis reliever Jason Isringhausen, another right-handed former closer who, like Gagne, could be open to a Minor League deal. So it appears that the team feels it has enough competitors already in camp to put together a quality bullpen.