Results tagged ‘ Josh Butler ’

Parra nearing end of rope?

Brewers left-hander Manny Parra, called his fastball command, “consistently terrible.” The team is considering giving someone else a try in September. 
Parra continued to slam headfirst into some sort of maddening, mid-inning barrier in Sunday’s 7-3 loss to the Padres, keeping the game close early before coming unraveled and making a sudden exit. Parra matched his season-high by lasting six innings, but he surrendered seven runs along the way and still has not recorded a seventh-inning out in any of his 16 starts. 
The Brewers are thinking about a change. Manager Ken Macha and general manager Doug Melvin had what Macha called “a brief discussion” on Sunday morning about September call-ups. The team has four young starters already on the 40-man roster in Josh Butler, Amaury Rivas, Mark Rogers and Cody Scarpetta. 
“We talked a little bit about perhaps who’s coming up and maybe giving somebody else a call,” Macha said. “Really, in all three games in this series, our starters haven’t gotten us where we need to get.” 
Parra, who surrendered seven runs on eight hits with four walks, went the deepest into the game of the three. Ace right-hander Yovani Gallardo lasted only 3 1/3 innings on Friday night, and lefty Chris Narveson made it three innings on Saturday. But the Brewers won each of the first two games in the series thanks to some clutch relief and timely hitting. 
Those hits were not there on Sunday. 
If Parra is indeed removed from the rotation, it would be for the third straight season. In 2008, the Brewers moved him to the bullpen for the stretch drive. In 2009, the Brewers demoted him to Triple-A Nashville in June. 
The team faces a very interesting decision with Parra this winter, when he is arbitration-eligible for the first time. Even with his inconsistency, that means Parra’s price tag is about to increase exponentially. 
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In the Minors: Butler debuts, Jones promoted

Brewers pitching prospect Josh Butler allowed one hit and one walk in two scoreless innings for Class A Brevard County on Monday night in his season debut. Butler, who spent time in the Majors last September with the Brewers, began this year on the disabled list with a right elbow injury. Look for him to move up as his pitch count increases. 

In other Minor League news, the Brewers bumped-up former first-round Draft pick Mike Jones from Double-A Huntsville to Triple-A Nashville to replace Marco Estrada, who was promoted to the Majors. Brevard County’s Nick Green was moved to Huntsville to replace Jones. 
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Gomez working on his swing (with some data)

Brewers manager Ken Macha said Carlos Gomez has been tweaking his swing to produce more ground balls. The key for the speedy center fielder is keeping his lead elbow low, and thus keeping the bat head from dropping down.
“Yesterday’s batting practice, I thought he swung the bat as well as he has this spring,” Macha said. “We want him to get it on the ground, but I don’t want him to conscious about it. … A lot of the balls he hit in batting practice were hard and low.”
Macha asked his statistical gurus to prepare a report of Gomez’s success on fly balls, line drives, ground balls and bunts. It bore out what Macha suspected, that he would be well-served to avoid hitting everything in the air. 
Here’s the data, courtesy of Brewers manager of advance scouting and baseball research Karl Mueller:
Career batting average by batted ball type… 
Ground Balls – .268 (306 put in play)
Line Drives – .631 (123 put in play)
Fly Balls – .195 (261 put in play)
Bunts – .446 (102 put in play, 10 of which were sacrifices)
It’s no surprise that the line drive average is so high. The Major League average is about .700.
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Macha repeated what closer Trevor Hoffman said Tuesday, that there’s no reason to worry about the fact he has yet to appear in a Cactus League game. Hoffman is taking it easy this spring to avoid a situation like the one that emerged last year, when he strained a rib-cage muscle. 
Hoffman threw a bullpen session on Monday and said he could debut in a game at some point next week. 
“Myself, personally, it’s not a concern for me right now,” Macha said. “He’s got plenty of time to get ready.”
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Third baseman Mat Gamel remained a “non-participant,” to borrow Macha’s phrase, on Wednesday as he tries to quiet a sore shoulder. Outfielder Trent Oeltjen (wrist) has been taking swings in the batting cage at 75-80 percent, Macha said, and was to see one of the team’s doctors on Wednesday. So was right-hander Josh Butler, who has a sore right elbow or triceps. 
Butler had a cortisone shot several days ago and conceded that unless he gets back to throwing very soon, he might miss out on Cactus League action. 
“It’s going to be close,” Butler said. “Hopefully I can [pitch in a game] but the biggest thing right now is getting healthy.”
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The Brewers play split-squad games on Thursday and again on Saturday, so third base coach Brad Fischer made a point in the team’s morning meeting of telling players to make sure they know where they are going over the next few days. 
This early in camp, the extra games are a good thing, at least from a pitching perspective. The Brewers say they are considering seven men for the starting rotation, and this week lines up such that Chris Narveson can pitch on the road against the Reds on Thursday while Randy Wolf works against the A’s at home, and Dave Bush and Manny Parra can each start a game on Saturday, when the Brewers play at home against Colorado and on the road at the White Sox. 
“We’ve got a large number [of pitchers] in camp and we’ve got a big competition in the starting [rotation] so we’ve been able to slot guys,” Macha said. 
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Oeltjen, Butler updates

Nonroster outfielder Trent Oeltjen underwent x-rays on his bruised left wrist Saturday and has no fractures in the joint, the Brewers announced. Oeltjen visited Phoenix-based specialist Dr. Evan Lederman a day after being struck on the wrist with a pitch in a loss to the A’s. 

The Brewers also released an update on right-hander Josh Butler, who has inflammation in his right elbow and received a cortisone injection on Saturday. Butler, one of the most promising pitching prospects in Milwaukee’s chain, was prescribed five more days of rest.
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Morning report

Some notes from Ken Macha’s morning meeting with reporters:

All of a sudden the Brewers have quite a little medical report, though all of the bumps and bruises Macha ran through on Friday were considered minor. Here are some of them:
- Third baseman Mat Gamel, scratched from Thursday’s Cactus League opener because of a sore right shoulder, was to take some swings off a tee on Friday morning and was tentatively listed to travel with the split-squad headed to Tucson on Saturday to play the Rockies. But Macha cautioned that the assignment could change based on how Gamel felt later Friday. 
- Josh Butler (triceps) was scheduled for a 40-pitch bullpen session and Kyle Heckathorn (rib cage) was to throw some live batting practice on Friday. The Brewers are taking a very cautious approach with both right-handed pitching prospects early in camp, and that was fine with Butler. 
“I never had to stop throwing because of this; they’re just taking it easy on me,” said Butler, who knocked on wood after saying he had so far avoided major arm injuries in his career. “There is still so much time left in Spring Training. It’s frustrating not to go play in these games right now, but it will happen. There’s no reason to rush it.”
Butler will get into a Cactus League game at some point but Macha still won’t completely commit about Heckathorn, who was the Brewers’ supplemental first-round Draft pick last year.
Macha also said that organizational newcomer Marco Estrada, another right-hander, was dealing with a minor neck issue but was to play catch on Friday. If that went well, Estrada would be scheduled to pitch against the Rockies in Tucson.
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Speaking of that game, Eric Arnett, the Brewers’ first selection in last year’s Draft, is also on the list for Tucson and Macha would like to see him get into the game late. If he does, the skipper will see the raw right-hander in person; Macha is going to travel with the road crew instead of staying home to see Randy Wolf lead another split-squad against the Giants. 
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Jim Edmonds was penciled in to start in right field on Friday against the A’s for his unofficial Brewers debut. Macha is not quite ready to commit to how much playing time Edmonds will see this spring, but expects to use him at all three outfield positions and at first base. I’ll have more on Edmonds a bit later today. 
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Today’s starting lineup against the A’s looks like this. Macha was at first considering a day off for Gomez, but bench coach Willie Randolph suggested they keep him in:
Weeks  2B
Gomez  CF
Braun  LF
Edmonds  RF
Zaun  DH
Kottaras  C
Escobar  SS
Heether  3B
Wilson  1B
Gallardo  P
Other pitchers on the travel roster include Tim Dillard, LaTroy Hawkins, A.J. Murray, Mark Rogers, Mitch Stetter and Carlos Villanueva.
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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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Gamel a scratch with sore shoulder

The Brewers scratched third baseman Mat Gamel from the lineup for Thursday’s Cactus League opener against the Giants after the prospect reported a sore right shoulder after batting practice. 
Casey McGehee, the projected Opening Day starter who was supposed to have Thursday off, played instead. Brewers manager Ken Macha said that Gamel’s injury was not considered serious but that he would get a few days off before trying to play. 
Gamel also missed some time early in camp last year with a sore right shoulder. 
The Brewers have remained relatively injury-free so far this spring, though Macha reported that right-handed pitching prospect Josh Butler continues to be stalled by a sore arm. Butler was penciled in to pitch either Friday or Saturday, but the club will instead give him a few more days to rest. 
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Tired Rogers satisfied with AFL stint

mark-rogers.jpgForget what the numbers say. Brewers pitching prospect Mark Rogers is satisfied with his stint in the Arizona Fall League and the end of a long but healthy season. He’s also ready for a break.

Speaking Friday on a well-deserved day off, Rogers thought there was a “good chance” that he would get at least an inning of work in Saturday’s AFL Championship game. It would offer one last chance to put a positive finish on an up-and-down experience.

Rogers has been pitching — and struggling — for the Peoria Javelinas, a team of Brewers, Mariners, White Sox, Tigers and Dodgers prospect in the prestigious AFL. His team is set to face the Phoenix Desert Dogs on Saturday in a 1:35 p.m. CT game that will air on MLB Network. 

“I’m really fortunate to be with a great group of guys,” said Rogers, one of eight Brewers prospects on the team. “I’ll chalk it up as another great experience in my career.” 

It’s almost over, and that might not be a bad thing. Rogers, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, is coming off the longest season of his career after two full years lost entirely to shoulder surgeries. Before this season, Rogers had not pitched in a game since June 2006. 

He made up for lost time by posting a 1.63 ERA in 22 starts and one relief appearance at Class A Brevard County. Working on a strict pitch count, Rogers struck out 67 batters in 64 2/3 innings and touched 98 mph on the radar gun.

His AFL stint hasn’t been quite as smooth. Entering Saturday’s finale, Rogers had allowed 18 earned runs and 20 hits including three home runs in 10 2/3 innings. He walked nine, versus seven walks.  Opponents were hitting .392 against him. 

“I think I’m seeing a little bit of the fatigue from my first full season in three years, that’s for sure” he admitted. “But in the meantime I’m learning a lot. There are some really good hitters down here, and they hit mistakes. You have to be able to pitch. 

“It’s definitely going to be something to build on for next Spring Training. The main thing is that I feel good, but at the same time I do feel like it’s my first full season in three years. It’s a long year. That everyday grind adds up.” 

He began preparing for the 2009 season last November, meaning Rogers has now been throwing every day for more than 12 months. He’s looking forward to a post-AFL break. This year, he’ll take part in the conditioning portion of the Brewers’ offseason minicamp and will continue his shoulder exercises, but probably won’t start throwing regularly until January.  

“I know I can make it through a full season now with my arm feeling great, and that makes me really excited for next season,” said Rogers, who could find himself in Double-A Huntsville this time. “I’m going to come in fresh and ready to go with a lot more experience under my belt. Compare that to last year, when it was a clean slate. This time I have a lot of confidence that I can come into camp and turn some heads.”

The Brewers added Rogers to their 40-man roster last year and burned the first of his three Minor League options in March.

“I think he is starting to get things ironed out,” Brewers farm director Reid Nichols said. “He has been through a lot to this point. It was pretty exciting to see the mid-90 [mph] fastball come back. Now it’s just touch and feel and learning to read hitters. It may take some time because he missed a lot of it. The good news is he is healthy.”

Rogers was not the only Brewers pitching prospect who struggled in the AFL.
   
In 2009 the Brewers added Josh Butler to the 40-man roster, another intriguing right-handed pitching prospect who struggled alongside Rogers. After going 9-3 with a 2.97 ERA for four Brewers affiliates and earning a taste of the Majors in September, Butler struggled to an 11.93 ERA in six fall league starts. Opponents hit him at a .429 clip. 

Fellow 40-man roster member Omar Aguilar had a 7.11 ERA in nine relief appearances. Left-hander Zack Braddock was a bright spot before he surrendered six earned runs on four walks and four hits in 1/3 inning of relief work on Thursday, an outing that bumped his ERA from 0.87 to 5.25. Righty Rob Wooten allowed five runs in nine relief innings for a 5.00 ERA. 

The Brewers’ hitters in the AFL offered more to feel good about. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy was especially impressive, drawing raves from scouts and the Brewers officials who saw him play, hitting .310 through Thursday with two home runs and 10 RBIs. Outfielder Lorenzo Cain, who on Wednesday was added to the 40-man roster, hit .242 but posted a solid .375 on-base percentage as the Javelinas’ leadoff hitter. 

Third baseman Taylor Green was batting .212 entering Saturday’s finale but had four of his 11 hits and all six of his RBIs in the Javelinas’ last three games. 

“I believe that if you have this experience, it’s going to make you better,” Rogers said. “It’s been a great year for me, and I don’t want to look at it as anything else. I look forward to a full season ahead of me without a pitch count where I can just go play.”

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Something for Butler to feel good about

Right-hander Josh Butler, one of the Brewers’ top pitching prospects, tossed his first scoreless outing in the Arizona Fall League on Tuesday and notched his third win. That ties for the league lead with top 2009 Draft pick Stephen Strasburg.

Butler had allowed 10 earned runs in his first 7 2/3 AFL innings but worked three scoreless frames on Tuesday. He talked to MLB.com after the game about his fall season so far, and you can read that article here.

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Fall League set to start

afl-javelinas.jpgThe prestigious Arizona Fall League begins its 18th season on Tuesday with a trio of games, including a matchup between the Surprise Rafters and Peoria Javelinas that includes the Brewers’ contingent of prospects.

Eight players will suit up for the Javelinas this season including pitchers Omar Aguilar, Josh Butler, Mark Rogers and Robert Wooten plus catcher Jonathan Lucroy, infielder Taylor Green and outfielder Lorenzo Cain.

In addition, left-hander Zach Braddock is a member of the Javelina’s taxi squad, available on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Class A Brevard County pitching coach Fred Dabney will serve in that role for the Javelinas.

That’s a pretty impressive list of Brewers prospects. Keep an especially close eye on Aguilar, Butler and Rogers because they are on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster, plus Cain and Lucroy, who have pretty clear paths to the big leagues if they can continue to develop. Cain lost part of the 2009 season to a knee injury, so his AFL stint is particularly important.

The AFL distributed a PDF packed with everything you could possibly want to know about the league, so I’ll attach it here for those who are interested. The AFL’s regular season ends Nov. 21 with the championship game slated for Nov. 21.
Javelina.jpg
AFL Opening Day.pdf

Here’s something you won’t find in that PDF: A javelina, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, is also known as a peccary, a medium-sized mammal that looks a bit like a pig. A terrifying, crazed pig.

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