Results tagged ‘ Mark DiFelice ’

DiFelice is back — cutter, too

A fan asked yesterday on Twitter how righty Mark DiFelice is doing this spring, so I strolled over this morning and here’s the result:
Mark DiFelice is back in big-league camp with the Brewers after losing all of 2010 to shoulder surgery. His signature pitch is back, too.
“The cutter. Still got it,” said DiFelice, who carved a niche in Milwaukee’s bullpen in 2008 and 2009 essentially with one pitch, limiting right-handed batters to a .218 average. 
“I had dreams of trying to throw it again after the surgery, and it wasn’t there,” he said. “You’re kind of like, ‘now what.'”
Thankfully, those dreams — more like nightmares — never became reality. He threw 22 bullpen sessions last summer under the watch of Brewers medical staffers before facing his first hitter, and finished the year with nine innings in the Brewers’ fall instructional program.
There was an offer to pitch winter ball, but DiFelice felt fatigued after a summer of rehab so he went home to Philadelphia. He worked out over the winter at Villanova University and drew an invitation from the Brewers to Major League Spring Training.
He’s pitching with “no limitations,” DiFelice said. “As of right now, I’m 100 percent. The shoulder feels great. I’m so happy to be back in camp and able to participate, enjoy the camaraderie with the guys. I worked hard last year to get back where I am now.”
DiFelice reported to Maryvale Baseball Park on Feb. 1 and had four bullpens under his belt before pitchers and catchers took part in the first formal workout. 
Now, at 34, he’s back where he was in 2008 and 2009, trying to win a job. 
“Nothing new to me,” he said. 

Recapping a busy home finale

The Brewers beat the Marlins in a 7-1 rout in Sunday’s home finale, but the result was secondary on an emotional afternoon at Miller Park. For those who have yet to sift through the links on, here’s a bit of a recap:

— Their 2010 season was a dud, so Brewers fans instead made the team’s home finale a celebration of individual milestones and sendoffs for players who are likely moving on. They turned a win over the Marlins into a series of standing ovations and almost made everyone forget that the team still has a week to play.
Ryan Braun came from behind to win the Brewers’ three-man race to 100 RBIs, Prince Fielder homered in what could be his final home game with the Brewers and Trevor Hoffman made one last entrance to AC/DC’s “Hells Bells.” All three players were showered with love from the 29,059 fans, who pushed the Brewers’ season attendance over 2.75 million.
— On more note on Hoffman: Sunday marked his 35th game finished, a milestone that pushed the cost of the buyout of his 2011 club option from $500,000 to $750,000. That financial boost aside, Hoffman once more thanked his supporters for never giving up on him.
“I can’t begin to say thanks enough,” Hoffman said. “For a guy sitting on a six-ERA and part of a big problem, to get treated like I did by the fans here — I appreciate their support.”
— Hoffman was offered a standing ovation and so was Fielder, who might just have played his final home game for the Brewers. Fielder commented before the game to me and after the game to me and 30 of my closest microphone-wielding friends about his uncertain future. 
He didn’t offer much in the way of insight, saying that he’s under contract for 2011 and planning to be back. Whether he departs this winter, Fielder said, “is not up to me,” once again glossing over the point that he reportedly turned down a significant contract offer earlier this year. 
— The only blemish of the Brewers’ win over the Marlins came in the seventh inning, when starter Chris Capuano exited with a groin injury. He downplayed its significance and talked instead about his inspiring comeback season from a second Tommy John surgery, and touched briefly on his own uncertain future. Capuano is a free agent for the first time. 
— Staying on the “uncertain future” theme, manager Ken Macha made sure to get Craig Counsell into the lineup for Sunday’s finale. Counsell, too, is a free agent, and said he’s going to take the best available offer this winter. He’s earned that right. 
— Then there’s Macha himself, who was asked by reporters after the game about his own contract status. Here are Doug Melvin’s brief comments on that situation, saying that the team will wait until after the season to announce any personnel decisions. 
And while we’re at it, here are a couple of other links you may have missed over the weekend:
Mark DiFelice is coming back to the Brewers in 2011. I learned subsequently that catchers Patrick Arlis and Anderson Delarosa, infielder Anderson Machado and left-hander Chase Wright have also already signed Minor League deals for next season. 
— Our report about the Brewers’ Minor League player and pitcher of the year includes video of both Erik Komatsu and Jake Odorizzi, not to mention amateur scouting director Bruce Seid. 
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DiFelice re-signs with Brewers

Chris Capuano and Mark Rogers returned to the Brewers this season after long layoffs caused by injury. Could right-hander Mark DiFelice follow next year? 
DiFelice has missed all of 2010 following shoulder surgery, but has already re-signed with the Brewers for 2011 and is pitching at the team’s instructional league program in Phoenix. He may continue his comeback in winter ball, and his Minor League contract calls for an invitation to Major League camp next spring. 
“He should be good to go for next spring,” assistant general manager Gord Ash said. 
DiFelice made 59 appearances for the Brewers in 2009 with a 3.66 ERA and, with his signature cut fastball, was deadly against right-handed hitters. But he developed shoulder soreness late in the season and underwent surgery on Dec. 3 to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff. 
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Capuano, Loe, Narveson raising eyebrows

Chris Capuano was pleased with his throwing session on Tuesday, his first action in big league camp since he suffered an elbow injury nearly two years ago. His manager was pleased, too. 
“One of the impressive things is that he threw change-ups, and his arm action on the change-up was very good,” Ken Macha said Wednesday morning. “I kind of liked what I saw there.”
Macha said he’s also been impressed by big right-hander Kameron Loe. Pitching coach Rick Peterson told Macha he liked what he’s seen from lefty Chris Narveson. 
“Last year we were kind of looking for people to fill the spots,” Macha said. “We’ve got tremendous competition for the spots this year. We’ve got a tremendous amount of depth in this camp.”
Rehabbing right-hander Mark DiFelice stopped by the field Wednesday morning as the big league campers stretched. He’s sidelined following shoulder surgery and said he is probably a month away from beginning a throwing program. 
Catcher Gregg Zaun returned to action on Wednesday after sitting out Tuesday with a stomach ailment. 
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DiFelice on Minors deal: 'They did me a favor'

The Brewers re-signed reliever Mark DiFelice to a Minor League contract on Tuesday and also announced they had picked up former Rangers left-hander A.J. Murray on a Minors deal that includes an invitation to big league Spring Training camp.  
DiFelice will not be in big league camp because he will be rehabbing from a Dec. 3 shoulder surgery that’s likely to sideline him for all of 2010. The Brewers nontendered DiFelice on Saturday to free his spot on the 40-man roster, briefly making the 33-year-old a free agent.  
Milwaukee took a similar strategy last year with left-hander Chris Capuano, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008 and missed most of the 2009 season. Since Capuano and DiFelice suffered their injury on the Brewers’ watch, the team is contractually obligated to pay for their rehabilitation. By signing the players to a Minor League contract, assistant general manager Gord Ash said, the club’s medical officials have more control over that process.
Capuano made six Minor League appearances late in the 2009 season and has since re-signed another Minors contract for 2010.  
In 74 Brewers appearances over the past two seasons, DiFelice posted a 3.44 ERA. Working almost exclusively with his signature cut fastball, he held right-handed hitters to a .218 batting average. 
“They did me a favor bringing me back,” DiFelice said. “Whether that’s because they feel some responsibility to rehab the injury, or they just think I’ll be able to help later on, I don’t know. Hopefully, they feel like I’m going to make a comeback and that I can be a valuable commodity for the future and help them. It’s just a testament to the relationship I have with the Brewers.  
“I’m glad it worked out. I didn’t want it to end the way it did.” 
DiFelice will earn slightly less than $100,000 in 2010. He will be a free agent again after the season, but said that if he’s healthy it would be difficult to leave the organization. 
“If they’re going to sign me knowing I won’t be able to participate, I want to come back the following year,” he said.  
Like Capuano, DiFelice will work at the team’s year-round facility in Phoenix. He concedes he’s a long shot to pitch in 2010, but is not ready to completely write off that possibility.  
“I still have hopes of pitching at the end of this year,” said DiFelice, whose surgery repaired a torn labrum and rotator cuff. “With this type of injury, it’s all about how I respond.”  
Murray, 27, had been in the Texas Rangers organization since 2001.  He pitched at Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Oklahoma City last season, going a combined 4-2 with a 2.87 ERA and one save in 41 relief appearances.   
He made 16 appearances in the Major Leagues with the Rangers between 2007 (14 games, two starts) and 2008 (two starts), going 2-2 with a 4.29 ERA. 
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DiFelice: 'I don't want it to end like this'

Brewers reliever Mark DiFelice succumbed to surgery last week to repair the torn labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder, a procedure that will sideline the right-hander next season and could threaten his Major League career. 

Dr. William Raasch performed the surgery in Milwaukee on Dec. 3, the Brewers announced Monday. DiFelice, 33, who also had major shoulder surgery back in 2001, expects to miss all of next season but hopes to pitch in the Majors again.

“I’m going to give it a shot,” he said. “It took me 10 years in the Minors to get to the big leagues, and I don’t want it to end like this.”

The Brewers placed DiFelice on the disabled list on Sept. 15 with what they first called “wear and tear” in his shoulder. An MRI scan didn’t reveal any significant damage, and a second opinion from Dr. Lewis Yocum at the end of the season confirmed Raasch’s suggestion of rest and rehab.

DiFelice was working with a physical therapist in Philadelphia but didn’t feel any improvement in the shoulder so he asked for further tests. An arthrogram revealed the damaged labrum and rotator cuff.

“Would we have been better doing surgery back in September or October? From what the doctors say, it probably didn’t make a difference,” DiFelice said. “I would have missed most of next season either way.”

Raasch inserted three tacks to secure the labrum and two sutures in the rotator cuff. 

DiFelice has made a miracle comeback before. It took him 2 1/2 years to fully recover from his first surgery, a procedure in 2001 to repair a fully-torn labrum, and by 2005 his career was fizzling. Released from organized baseball, DiFelice pitched in the Independent Atlantic League and then went to Mexico, where he discovered one pitch — the cut fastball — that gave him a second life.

He drew the Brewers’ interest the following season and then pitched at a pair of Milwaukee affiliates in 2007. By 2008, DiFelice was a 31-year-old Major League rookie. In 74 Brewers appearances over the past two seasons, he posted a 3.44 ERA and, working almost exclusively with that cutter, held right-handed opponents to a .218 batting average.

Now he’ll need to make another comeback.

“The good thing is that I’m not a guy who needs to throw 95 mph, because that probably wouldn’t come back after surgery,” DiFelice said. “I throw 84, 85, 86, and the thing I’ll have to do is find my location again. The doctor says that my chances of rehabbing and pitching again are pretty good; it just won’t happen in 2010, probably.”

DiFelice hopes to follow a path similar to left-hander Chris Capuano, who was nontendered at this time last year but re-signed with the club on a Minor League contract to rehabilitate from Tommy John surgery. He has yet to discuss his future with general manager Doug Melvin.


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Brewers add Heether to roster

heether.jpgThe Brewers added infielder Adam Heether to the 40-man roster on Monday while reinstating second baseman Rickie Weeks and right-handers Mark DiFelice and David Riske from the 60-day disabled list.

Six spots were cleared last week when outfielders Mike Cameron, Frank Catalanotto and Corey Patterson, catcher Jason Kendall and infielder Felipe Lopez elected free agency and the team declined reliever David Weathers’ club option, making him a free agent.

The Brewers say their 40-man roster stands at 37. But that figure still includes free agents Craig Counsell, Claudio Vargas and Weathers, who as of Monday morning had not formally filed for free agency. 

[Counsell and Weathers did file later in the day Monday, further reducing the roster to 35 players.]

Heether turns 28 in January and could be a right-handed utility option for the Brewers next season because he can play any infield position and also saw action in left field in 2009. He spent most of the year at Triple-A Nashville, where he batted .293 with 16 home runs, 59 RBIs and an outstanding .400 on-base percentage. He’s currently playing for Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Weeks, DiFelice and Riske will all be returning from injury. Weeks, expected back next year as Milwaukee’s leadoff hitter, underwent surgery in early may to repair a tendon sheath in his left wrist and has now had both wrists surgically-repaired.  Riske lost the whole season to Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and will be entering the final season of a three-year contract. DiFelice ended the season on the DL with a shoulder injury but avoided surgery.


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McGehee, DiFelice, Burns updates

Milwaukee_Brewers_at_0deb.JPGBrewers this baseman Casey McGehee will undergo arthroscopic surgery after the season to remove bone fragments from a right knee that has bothered him all season.

The surgical option has been on the table for months, but McGehee traveled on Monday’s off-day to Vail, Colo. for a visit with Dr. Richard Steadman to finalize a plan. Steadman is a knee expert who specializes in skiers but also has also consulted with a number of baseball players, including then-Brewers infielder Tony Graffanino in 2007.

Dr. William Raasch, the Brewers’ head physician, will perform McGehee’s surgery, presumably soon after Sunday’s season finale.

McGehee has been one of the Brewers’ best stories this season, an October 2007 waiver claim from the Cubs who has emerged as the offensive frontrunner for the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Despite the bum knee, he leads all Major League rookies with 64 RBIs while batting .304 with 15 home runs. He’ll have to contend with pitchers like the Phillies’ J.A. Happ and the Braves’ Tommy Hanson for the league’s rookie honor. 

Two Brewers relievers also spent Monday in the doctor’s office:

– Reliever Mark DiFelice was in Los Angeles for a visit with Dr. Lewis Yocum, who confirmed Raasch’s recommendation to conservatively rehabilitate DiFelice’s strained right shoulder. Progress has been somewhat slow since DiFelice went on the disabled list earlier this month, and he was seeking assurances that nothing more serious was wrong with the shoulder.

– Fellow reliever Mike Burns might not prove so lucky. He underwent an MRI scan in Milwaukee on Monday that revealed damage to the labrum in his right shoulder. Burns was to meet again Wednesday with Raasch to discuss the options.


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McGehee to see specialist; DiFelice, Burns too

118486.jpgBreak-out Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee should get a better idea
Monday whether he’ll need offseason knee surgery, and he’s not the only
banged-up Brewer set to spend the team’s final off-day at the doctor’s

McGehee was to travel Sunday night to Denver ahead
of the rest of the team to see a specialist for answers about his
aching right knee. Reliever Mark DiFelice, meanwhile, departed separately for Los Angeles, where he has a Monday morning appointment
with noted orthopedist Lewis Yocum for another opinion on his injured
right shoulder. Fellow reliever Mike Burns remained in Milwaukee for an MRI of his sore right shoulder. 

McGehee, who is in the middle of a torrid
September and is being pushed by the Brewers as a National League
Rookie of the Year candidate, has been playing on a sore right knee for
at least three months. He has been extremely hesitant to discuss it,
but broke his silence on Sunday morning. 

“We’ve been able to
manage it pretty well,” said McGehee, crediting head athletic trainer
Roger Caplinger and assistant trainer Dan Wright. “We’ve done
everything it takes to make sure I’m available every day. But we’re
getting down to the end and we have to get it re-evaluated to see where
we’re at and know exactly what we need to do going into the

No surgery is scheduled yet, McGehee said. His
ailment has been described as tendonitis, but McGehee was not sure that
was an accurate label.

“I don’t know what the terminology of
it is,” McGehee said, “But I do know that we’re not talking about ACL,
MCL or meniscus tears. There’s no torn tendons or anything like that.
In my mind, it’s just sore. I’m just waiting to see what these guys
say, and we’ll go from there.” 

Entering the Brewers-Phillies
series finale on Sunday, McGehee ranked third in the Majors with 24
RBIs in September, and he was batting .306 with 15 home runs and 64
RBIs. McGehee led all NL rookies in RBIs, ranked second in batting
average, third in home runs, fourth with a .367 on-base percentage and
fifth with 20 doubles. His .508 slugging percentage ranked second among
NL rookies to Pittsburgh’s Garrett Jones.

McGehee, a waiver
claim from the Cubs last October, played his way onto the Brewers’
Opening Day roster by hitting .339 in Spring Training and then saw
increased playing time after second baseman Rickie Weeks was lost to a
wrist injury and third  baseman Bill Hall slumped. At the moment, he’s
the leading candidate to be Milwaukee’s regular third baseman in 2010. 

“I want to make sure that I’m ready to go for Spring Training,” McGehee said.

has been on the DL since Sept. 15 with what he called “wear and tear”
in his right shoulder. He had major shoulder surgery
following the 2001 season and needed 2 1/2 years to feel well again, and is
seeking assurances from Yocum that nothing more serious is wrong this

“You owe it to yourself to get a second opinion, just
to explore every avenue,” said DiFelice, who posted a 3.66 ERA in 59
games before he was hurt. “The rehab is actually going well, but
[Yocum] might see something that we haven’t seen. You never know. He’s
one of the best in the country, so let’s be smart. 

“Right now, the plan is just to rehab. If he feels differently, then we’ll have to think about that.”

Burns’ injury was not known until Sunday, when he told a reporter that he had been feeling sore over the past week. The results of Monday’s MRI scan would determine whether he will join the Brewers on their season-ending road trip.

Butler replaces injured DiFelice

Mark DiFelice may avoid another shoulder surgery, but he couldn’t avoid a season-ending trip to the disabled list.

The team placed DiFelice on the 60-day DL with the strained right shoulder he suffered on Sunday in Arizona and purchased the contract of another right-hander, Josh Butler, a bright spot in the Brewers’ thin stable of pitching prospects.

Butler, 24, would have been added to the 40-man roster this winter, anyway, because the Brewers would not have risked exposing him to the Rule 5 Draft. Now he’ll get a brief taste of the big leagues before reporting next month to the Arizona Fall League.

In 24 games this season for three Milwaukee afiliates, including 23 starts, Butler was 9-3 with a 2.97 ERA. He missed about a month in the middle of the season with a rib-cage injury but was at his best for Double-A Huntsville, where the 6-foot-5 Californian went 2-1 with a 2.85 ERA and 33 strikeouts versus 13 walks in eight starts.

The Brewers acquired Butler last April in a trade that sent outfield Gabe Gross to the Rays. He will wear No. 62 beginning Tuesday night, when the Brewers and Cubs continue a four-game series. 

DiFelice meanwhile, is done for the year after posting a 3.66 ERA in 59 games. He tweaked his surgically-repaired shoulder on a Ball 4 offering to D-backs pitcher Max Scherzer on Sunday and worried that he had re-torn his labrum, an injury that sent DiFelice to the surgeon’s table following the 2001 season and might have been career-threatening had he suffered it again. An MRI scan on Monday in Milwaukee revealed only “wear and tear,” DiFelice said Monday at Wrigley Field.

With less than three weeks left in the season, Brewers officials apparently determined that DiFelice would not have enough time to return.