Results tagged ‘ Ken Macha ’

Macha responds to Fielder's frustration

Brewers manager Ken Macha does not mind that first baseman Prince Fielder vented some frustration about the team’s struggling pitching staff after another blowout loss Friday night. You can check out those comments by clicking here
But Macha would prefer that his players focus on their own job and let him worry about the big picture. 
“My thought about baseball is that everybody has got a job to do,” Macha said. “So you have to pay attention to your job and do that well, and when the day is done you have eight position players and the number of pitchers you used, and you add up what they did in their boxes and you either win or lose the game. 
“One thing that’s great about Prince is he takes it to heart when we lose. He really wants to be on a winning team, a winning organization. He strives to win. So as long as guys are paying attention to their little boxes and doing them properly, I think the wins and losses are going to be my responsibility in the end. He needs to continue to work to get to the numbers that he wants to, and if he does that, that’s taking care of his box and he’s going to help us win games. I think our pitching will get better.” 
Macha pointed to the Brewers’ three losses to the Braves, saying the team got “adequate” starting pitching. Before that, the starters pitched well in a three-game Brewers sweep of the D-backs. The bullpen has not pitched well of late, prompting the Brewers to add reliever John Axford on Saturday. 
“That’s my responsibility, and I will be held accountable for us winning or losing games,” Macha said. “I’m glad that I have a player on the field who’s my cleanup hitter and has a tremendous amount of concern about is winning or losing games. … That’s the manager’s job. It’s inherent to this position.
“I don’t want hitters looking at the pitchers or pitchers looking at the hitters. I said last night about the finger-pointing, there should be none of it going on. Everybody take care of what they can take care of. Let me worry about the other stuff.”
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Welcome to Kennywood!

Here’s a little preview of a story set to hit tomorrow:
Who could have guessed that Ken Macha, the self-proclaimed “boring” manager of the Milwaukee Brewers with zero ejections in his season-plus with the team, was such an adrenaline junkie? The Pittsburgh native is a big fan of Kennywood, a huge amusement park in his home state that features three wooden roller coasters. 
“The Jack Rabbit, the Thunderbolt and the Racer,” Macha said. “I love that place. Love it.” 
Good thing, because his ballclub is baseball’s version of a thrill ride. Up one week, down the next, and the only difference is that those downs have not been quite as fun as those dips and dives at Kennywood. 
As of Thursday the Brewers had scored 186 runs, most in the National League and less than only the Yankees (190 runs) and Rays (189) in all of Major League Baseball. The Brewers’ 798 OPS also led the NL and trailed only the powerhouse Yankees (.805) and Red Sox (.799). 
So Milwaukee is one of the most potent offensive clubs in the league, right? Yes, but only when they are not conjuring memories of the second-tier Brewers teams of seasons past, and there have been plenty of those games so far. Consider that the 2010 Brewers have already scored at least eight runs in a game 10 times, but have scored two or fewer runs 11 times and are 1-10 in those games. That’s only the start of the extremes; they have scored at least 17 runs in three big games, but have been shut out four times. 
They have swept two series in dominating fashion, both on the road — from April 20-22 in Pittsburgh by a cumulative score of 36-1 and from May 7-9 in Arizona by a cumulative score of 26-6. But they have been swept in each of the subsequent series, both times at home — outscored 25-4 by the Cubs from April 23-25 and 27-7 by the Braves just this week. 
“It’s extremely weird,” said Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun. “I don’t think there’s any logical explanation. I wish we could say, ‘Let’s score five today and then save five for tomorrow.’ It just doesn’t work that way.” 
For more, including GM Doug Melvin’s take on this up-and-down season, see my story on Friday. In the meantime, which Brewers team do you think will shot up this weekend? 
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Melvin: Criticism of Macha is 'unfair'

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin called it “unfair” to blame the team’s sluggish start on manager Ken Macha, and said he’s just as frustrated as those clamoring for some early-season changes. 
“We’re all a little frustrated right now,” Melvin said Tuesday afternoon, when the Brewers entered their series against the Dodgers with a 10-15 record, 7 1/2 games behind first-place St. Louis in the National League Central with a little more than 15 percent of the season in the books. 
“There are at least nine teams in the Major Leagues who are underperforming,” Melvin said. “We’re not performing well, but, Ken, I haven’t seen him swing at a bad breaking ball yet. I haven’t seen him give up two or three runs in an inning. <p/>
“I evaluate myself, too, on these things. … The way we’re playing now, we’re not going to make the playoffs. You have to play better. We expect that.” 
Melvin rejoined the club in Los Angeles after a visit to Class A Brevard County and met Monday afternoon with Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio to evaluate the ballclub before dinner. Melvin downplayed the meeting, saying, “We talk on the phone just about every day.” 
The GM then chatted with Macha on Tuesday morning over coffee. 
“He watches every game,” Macha said. “[He knows] some guys in the middle of our order are not hitting right now. He knows we’ve been in position to win games but we haven’t closed them off. We talked more about individual people. … 
“I go back to last year, when things were ‘squeezing,'” Macha said, referring to the late-season speculation about his job security. “I come to the ballpark, prepare my [behind] off, try to be upbeat with these players, pat them on the back, do our best to win as many games as we can. Maybe at the end of the game Sunday [in San Diego] things fell apart, but for the most part, guys are playing hard. Maybe to the point of having their statistics suffer because they’re trying too hard. …
“[Other than one game], I haven’t gone home at all this year saying, ‘Gosh, I should have done this, or this.’ Self evaluation is maybe blind at times, but that’s the way I feel about it.”
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Macha compares '10 Hoffman to Big Hurt in '06

Brewers manager Ken Macha is in something of a tough spot with closer Trevor Hoffman, the all-time saves leader who has had particular trouble running up his total this season. But Macha pointed out Wednesday morning that he’s been here before. 
In 2006, Macha’s final season managing the A’s, veteran slugger Frank Thomas was batting in the .170s into the second week of May, and with a trip looming to Chicago, where Thomas had compiled most of his Hall of Fame-worthy credentials, Oakland officials were considering a change. 
“My boss said, ‘You’d better sit down and talk to this guy because it looks like we might have to start platooning him,” Macha said. “So we had an off-day and were going from west to east, so I had a couple of days to think about it. 
“I brought him in and asked him how he was feeling, [said] that I didn’t want him to put too much pressure on himself because we were going to Chicago and playing the White Sox. That [first night in Chicago], he hit two homers in that game.” 
That was May 22, 2006, and Thomas batted .302 the rest of the season to finish with 39 home runs and 114 RBIs, finishing fourth in American League MVP balloting. 
“He helped us win the division,” Macha said. “Then, his bat basically won out playoff series [against the Twins]. When you have a guy like that, when does the switch go back on and [they] perform at that level? I never had to tell Frank, ‘Hey we’re going to platoon you.’ I didn’t want to do that because of the respect I had for the player that he is and the accomplishments that he did have.” 
 The same goes for Hoffman, who suffered his third blown save in six tries Tuesday night and has surrendered five home runs in eight innings this season. Compare that to last year, when he allowed only two homers in 54 innings on the way to 37 saves. 
Macha has no plans to depose Hoffman as the closer, though the closer conundrum did occupy Macha on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. After Tuesday’s loss, Macha he had chats with pitching coach Rick Peterson and general manager Doug Melvin about the struggling closer. On Wednesday morning, Macha spoke with assistant GM Gord Ash, who thinks the problem is mostly location, and head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger, who assured that Hoffman is in top physical shape, as usual. 
Then Macha met with Hoffman himself, behind a closed door in the manager’s office about an hour before the Brewers-Pirates series finale. 
“Just like I said [Tuesday night], he’s done this a lot and he hasn’t survived this long without making the adjustments,” Macha said. “You have to, as a manager, respect the accomplishments that he’s had. Here again, it’s, how much rope does the guy get?” 
Does Macha have that answer? 
“I don’t know the answer to that,” Macha said.
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Bad blood between Brewers, Bucs?

Brewers manager Ken Macha said he didn’t appreciate the up-and-in pitch from Pirates starter Zach Duke that struck Rickie Weeks in the sixth inning of Wednesday’s game in Pittsburgh. 
It was a 1-and-2 offering, but it also came immediately after Brewers pinch-hitter Jody Gerut delivered a pinch-hit, two-run home run that gave Milwaukee a 7-0 lead. 
“To throw at somebody’s face, I don’t think that was very good,” Macha said. “I don’t know if he did or not. I can’t determine what the intention is. But I kind of took exception to it, and Rickie did, too. 
“They were hitting Prince [Fielder] last year, and now they’re hitting Rickie. Those are the wrong guys to be hitting, I’ll say that. I would pick somebody else out.” 
Fielder and Weeks have each been plunked five times this season, and Ryan Braun once. Brewers pitchers, meanwhile, have only struck four opposing batters. 
“We don’t budge,” Macha said. “Prince doesn’t budge. He hangs in there. Pitchers are trying to back him off the plate, but he’s not backing off. Consequently, you get hit.” 
Weeks got some payback the day after Duke’s plunking by scoring four times in the Brewers’ historic 20-0 win. 
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No last-minute roster surprises

After one final staff meeting on Sunday morning, the Brewers set their 25-man Opening Day roster. There were no surprises. 
Four players still officially on the big league camp roster — pitcher Chris Smith, catcher Martin Maldonado, infielder Taylor Green and outfielder Adam Stern — will begin the season in the Minor Leagues, leaving 25 active players to face the Colorado Rockies beginning Monday afternoon at Miller Park. 
“I think that as a group, we’re ready to go,” said catcher Gregg Zaun, one of Milwaukee’s hottest spring hitters. 
Here is the breakdown: 
Pitchers (12): Dave Bush, Todd Coffey, Doug Davis, Yovani Gallardo, LaTroy Hawkins, Trevor Hoffman, Chris Narveson, Manny Parra, Mitch Stetter, Claudio Vargas, Carlos Villanueva, Randy Wolf.

Catchers (2): George Kottaras, Gregg Zaun.
Infielders (6):Craig Counsell, Alcides Escobar, Prince Fielder, Joe Inglett, Casey McGehee, Rickie Weeks.
Outfielders (5): Ryan Braun, Jim Edmonds, Jody Gerut, Carlos Gomez, Corey Hart. 
Four other players will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list: Pitchers Josh Butler, David Riske and Jeff Suppan and infielder Mat Gamel. 
The Brewers’ final decision essentially was made on Tuesday, when Suppan was placed on the DL with a neck injury. He had been vying with left-handers Narveson and Parra for the fifth starter spot, and with Suppan out of the mix the club was able to keep both Narveson and Parra on the Opening Day roster. 
Health was something of a question for veterans Zaun (quadriceps) and Edmonds (hamstring), but both players proved by playing Saturday’s exhibition against the Tigers that they were fit enough for Opening Day and will be active on Monday afternoon. Zaun figures to start behind the plate, but as of Saturday evening, Brewers manager Ken Macha had yet to decide officially whether Edmonds, Hart or perhaps Gerut would man right field against Ubaldo Jimenez and the Rockies. 
Asked when he would make that decision, Macha replied, “probably 10 a.m. on Monday.” Gallardo is scheduled to throw the season’s first pitch at 1:10 p.m. CT. 
Assuming Hart makes his fourth consecutive Opening Day start, Edmonds will join a Brewers bench much longer on experience than in years past. Counsell, Edmonds, Gerut and Inglett have combined to play 4,093 Major League games, with Inglett the least experienced of the group at 211 games. Even Kottaras has some big league experience, with 48 games under his belt. 
That’s a change from last season, when Counsell was the Brewers’ only extra man with extensive experience. McGehee had only a September call-up on his resume at the time, and he certainly panned out.  But outfielders Chris Duffy and Brad Nelson did not, combining to start the season 4-for-53 at the plate and prompting changes.  
“I think looking at what happened to us in April last year with Chris Duffy and Nelly, [Brewers general manager Doug Melvin] probably looked for some guys who are used to sitting on the bench,” Macha said. 
Flexibility was the key to the Brewers’ choices. Counsell can play anywhere on the infield, and while Inglett is primarily a second baseman, he proved in Spring Training that he’s versatile elsewhere on the infield and in the outfield corners. Edmonds and Gerut are capable of playing all three outfield spots. 
“Most of the guys on the bench are semi-regulars,” Melvin said. “In the case that we had an injury, they probably could play that regular role. Looking at that, we are more experienced and deeper, I guess.”
In the bullpen, Macha will also have options. With Narveson and Parra beginning the year in relief, the Brewers could turn to one of those left-handers early in games and save Stetter for tougher situations later on. Narveson and Parra also give Macha multiple long relievers, and right-handers Villanueva and Vargas are also capable of working more than one inning.  
The next big decision won’t come until next week, when the Brewers plan to use a fifth starter for the first time. Suppan remains in the running, assuming he’s ready to return from the DL, along with Narveson and Parra. The winner of that derby will probably debut on April 14 or 15 against the Cubs, though the Brewers don’t actually <i>need</i> a fifth starter until April 18 at Washington. 
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Rotation will be set today

With a week to go before the Brewers’ April 5 season opener against the Rockies, Brewers manager Ken Macha is finally ready to name the first four pitchers his starting rotation. He intends to do so after Monday’s Brewers-Giants game at Maryvale Baseball Park.

Barring a big surprise, here’s how it will look:
Monday, April 5 vs. Rockies: Yovani Gallardo
Tuesday, April 6 vs. Rockies: Randy Wolf
Wednesday, April 7 vs. Rockies: Doug Davis
Thursday, April 8: OFF
Friday, April 9 vs. Cardinals: Dave Bush
The fifth starter won’t be named today, Macha said, and might not be named until well into the month of April. Macha and pitching coach Rick Peterson are considering using a fifth starter for the Saturday, April 10 game against the Cardinals to avoid that pitcher enduring a long layoff, but they could also come back with Gallardo that day. 
As for which pitcher will eventually claim the fifth slot, nobody knows. The three competitors are all scheduled to pitch on Tuesday. Chris Narveson will start against the Angels and Manny Parra will work in relief. Macha was very vague about the plan for Jeff Suppan, saying he might work a “camp” game at the Minor League complex. But Macha said he wouldn’t be sure of the plan until Tuesday morning. 
In other morning news, left fielder Ryan Braun is out of the lineup again with tightness in his back. Brewers athletic trainers are trying to eliminate the problem before the start of the season. Catcher Gregg Zaun has a very minor quadriceps issue so George Kottaras is handling catching duties today against the Giants. Slumping right fielder Corey Hart is also out of the lineup and will spend the day in the batting cage. 
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Injury hampers Gamel's big-league bid

The Brewers’ medical staff has been discouraged by third baseman Mat Gamel’s slow progress back from a sore right shoulder, and it is increasingly likely that the injury will cost Gamel a shot at the Opening Day roster, manager Ken Macha said Wednesday. 

“It’s getting to the point where it’s going to be hard to get him enough at-bats to feel like he’s ready,” Macha said. 
Gamel also missed time last spring with a sore throwing shoulder. During the season, he bounced between everyday duty at Triple-A Nashville and the Brewers’ big league bench. He batted .278 with 11 homers and 48 RBIs in 75 games at Nashville and .242 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 61 games with Milwaukee. 
“I would have liked to have him have a very positive spring and come into the [season] with a positive attitude,” Macha said. “Last year, it was a little bit of a struggle for him at the end of the year.”
Speaking of injury-plagued prospects, catcher Angel Salome suffered a minor ankle injury during batting practice on Tuesday and will be sidelined a few days. He was supposed to catch Dave Bush in a “B” game against the Rangers on Thursday, but Matt Treanor will handle that assignment instead. 
Last spring, Salome missed time because of a bad back. 
UPDATE from assistant general manager Gord Ash, who says that Salome’s left ankle is the one in question. He saw Dr. Evan Lederman on Wednesday morning, and Lederman suggested that the injury is not a major issue. 
Either Salome or fellow catching prospect Jonathan Lucroy might end up very disappointed at the end of camp. Both probably belong in Triple-A this season, Salome because he was there last year and held his own, and Lucroy because he was very good at Double-A Huntsville last season and then participated in the Arizona Fall League. 
Macha said that club officials had discussed the conundrum this week. He hinted that if Salome and Lucroy are both healthy and in the organization at the start of the season, he would prefer to see one sent o Nashville and the other to Double-A Huntsville. 
“I don’t think it helps you in your development if you’re not catching five days out of the week,” Macha said. “That’s just my opinion. Your job as a catcher is to learn the pitchers and learn what pitches work and sequences and things like that. When you’re catching three days a week, that’s tough.”
But Macha stressed that it’s not his call. 
“That will be something for somebody else to figure out,” he said. 
David Riske, recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, was scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Wednesday morning and said he could progress to a live batting practice session next week. But it is clear now that he will have to stay in extended Spring Training while the Brewers head north. 
“I’m positive about the way things are going,” Riske said. “It will be nice to get a hitter up there.”
The Brewers’ lineup against Aroldis Chapman and the Reds looks like this:
Rickie Weeks  2B
Carlos Gomez  CF
Ryan Braun  LF
Corey Hart  RF
Steffan Wilson  1B
Craig Counsell  3B
Alcides Escobar  SS
George Kottaras  C
Doug Davis  LHP
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Game day?

Maryvale Baseball Park is in wait and see mode this morning while rain falls in Phoenix. What is it about rainy weekends this spring?

The weather forced the Brewers to move their morning stretch into the covered batting cages, and manager Ken Macha and pitching coach Rick Peterson are making contingency plans should the game be washed out. Macha met with with reporters in his office and here’s what’s happening in camp:
The most important thing, Macha said, was keeping scheduled starter Doug Davis on schedule. He is to make his Brewers debut today against the Reds, and should Mother Nature intervene Davis would instead throw a two-inning simulated game. The Brewers have covered bullpen for these contingencies.
Peterson would have to do some shuffling with the relievers scheduled to follow Davis. They are Todd Coffey, John Axford, Zach Braddock and Scott Schoeneweis. 
Here’s the lineup posted this morning:

Alcides Escobar  SS

Jody Gerut  RF
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Jim Edmonds  CF
Mat Gamel  3B
Gregg Zaun  C
Hernan Iribarren  2B
Doug Davis  LHP
Gamel would make his first Cactus League appearance. He complained of a sore right shoulder the other day but was back at full strength on Saturday. 
Outfielder Trent Oeltjen said he was relieved that the x-rays on his bruised left wrist came back negative on Saturday. Oeltjen was supposed to participate in outfield drills Sunday before the rain dashed those plans, but he won’t resume swinging the bat until Monday. 
As of Sunday morning, Macha was not ready to name his starting pitcher for Monday’s game against the Mariners at Maryvale Baseball Park. Right-hander Dave Bush and left-hander Manny Parra are each scheduled for two innings.
“We haven’t decided [who will go first],” Macha said. “Rick and I are going to talk about it and then we’ll tell one of them. We don’t want anybody to read anything into anything.”
Macha will not face the same conundrum next time. Bush and Parra are lined up to pitch again on Saturday, March 13, when the Brewers have split-squad games against the Rockies at Maryvale and against the White Sox in Glendale. 
Is Macha trying to downplay the competition?
“Why put so much pressure on the guy like that?” Macha said. “Just go out and pitch good, that’s all.”
Macha was still singing left-hander Chris Capuano’s praises on Sunday, a day after Capuano pitched his first Major League game in nearly two years. He continues to mention Capuano as a legitimate candidate for the Opening Day roster. 
Jim Edmonds made Macha chuckle the other day. 
“I asked him if he had a first baseman’s mitt because it would be nice to have a backup first baseman on the roster,” Macha said. “He says, ‘When you watch me run these balls down in center field, you’re going to like what you see out there.’ 
“I told him I’ve already seen that. I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but he came up with the Angels when I was there [as a coach]. He was a brash rookie then, and not a whole lot has changed. Just take the rookie out of there. That’s good. You want guys to have that type of feeling about themselves.”
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'Blue' tops 'White' in intrasquad game

Prince Fielder hit a long home run, but right-handed rookie Eric Arnett walked the first four batters he faced and was charged with a pair of runs as the Brewers lost to the Brewers in an intrasquad game at Maryvale Baseball Park on Wednesday. 

Fielder homered off left-hander Chuck Lofgren in the bottom of the fourth inning in the five-inning affair, but Arnett gave those runs back in the top of the next inning. After the four walks tied the game at 1, center fielder Carlos Gomez saved Arnett with a diving catch in center field for the first out of the inning but Hernan Iribarren followed with a run-scoring groundout for a 2-1 “Blue Team” lead. With that, Arnett reached his pitch count and the inning was over. 
Brewers manager Ken Macha attributed Arnett’s command to jitters. Unofficially, it was Arnett’s first appearance in a big league uniform. 
“I remember in my first game getting jammed on a grounder to third and my heart was still beating 100 mph when I got to the locker room afterwards,” Macha said. 
Dave Bush and Manny Parra started the game and pitched two scoreless innings apiece. Fielder’s homer was nothing new, but Macha was very impressed with the two at-bats put together by nonroster outfielder Jim Edmonds. Edmonds flew out both times. 
The Brewers play their exhibition opener on Thursday afternoon at Scottsdale against the Giants. The game begins at 2 p.m. CT and will air in Wisconsin on the Brewers Radio Network. Jeff Suppan is scheduled to start for the Brewers against Barry Zito.
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