Results tagged ‘ Mat Gamel ’

Emptying the notebook…

- The Brewers’ veterans are doing everything they can to make sure third base prospect Mat Gamel “gets” the enormity of the opportunity he’s facing. Gamel, who is in his first big league camp, was a late arrival Friday morning apparently because his alarm clock failed, so a certain veteran catcher found a portable locker and moved every last one of Gamel’s belongings outside. Gamel arrived about 15 minutes before the team stretched and dressed under the morning sunshine.

It drew some smiles from the other young players, but this is serious business to the vets. Manager Ken Macha has already met twice with Gamel to lay down his expectations, and now he might have another chat. Earlier in camp, Gamel was nudged to buy lunch for the team after a late arrival.

He started Friday’s game as the designated hitter and got off to a rough start — 0-for-5, three strikeouts — before hitting a three-run home run in the ninth inning.

“It saved his day, he hit a homer,” Macha said. “The talent is there, he’s just trying to figure it out.”

- Just to be clear, we’re not trying to pick on Gamel, who is a supreme offensive talent. Macha has the same expectations for everyone, and sat down one of the veteran players on Thursday after he was late to the team’s stretch and tried to sneak in unnoticed.  

- Dave Bush worked with Minor League Jonathan Lucroy in Friday’s game against the Indians, but Macha is considering pairing Bush and Mike Rivera in the regular season. It appears that it’s down to Bush or Braden Looper/Seth McClung for Rivera, a move designed to give regular catcher Jason Kendall more rest.

For the record, Bush said he would have no problem with the pairing.

“I’ve worked with him a lot over the years and had some success,” Bush said. “I would be fine with it.”

- The Brewers’ second off-day of the spring is Tuesday, and Macha scheduled a morning “B” game at Surprise against the Rangers. It’s mostly to keep the starting pitchers on track, and in this case Seth McClung is scheduled to work.

- I think I have written before that infielder Hernan Iribarren is out of Minor League options, but that’s not the case. Brewers officials learned over the winter that Iribarren qualified for a fourth option, meaning he can be sent out to Triple-A Nashville at the end of camp.

I haven’t mentioned Iribarren in the mix of outfielders because I have barely seen him out there. He played a few innings in left field against the Angels, but it’s a bit curious that he has not seen more outfield action given the Brewers’ thin ranks.

- Played basketball on Thursday night with an agent who broke my heart with the news that all-time good guy Matt Wise has retired. Wise, who pitched for the Brewers from 2004-2007 and was a Tommy John surgery success story, struggled with injuries all last year with the Mets. He threw for teams over the winter but the pain was too much.

- Macha and I are going to end up arm wrestling over who gets the pork chop at Frasher’s Restaurant in Scottsdale named in his honor. Macha is a black belt, so I’d put my money on him.

Looper, Gagne, Gwynn, Salome on injury report

Brewers skipper Ken Macha came armed with a note for his Thursday morning meeting with reporters because there were so many injuries to update. Among them:

- The team’s medical staff is encouraged by Braden Looper’s recovery from a tight oblique muscle, and he might be kept off the mound for seven days instead of 10-14. Macha also noted that Looper has been able to participate in plyometric throwing exercises since he tweaked the muscle, meaning he will not have to start from scratch when he gets back on the mound. Perhaps he’ll be in the rotation on Opening Day, after all.

“It’s going to be small steps every day and there won’t be any giants jumps forward,” Macha said.

- Reliever Eric Gagne was sent out for an MRI exam Thursday on his sore right shoulder. Gagne’s Minor League contract includes a March 26 out date on which he can elect free agency if he’s not placed on the roster, and Macha conceded that it will be tough to evaluate Gagne in that tight timeframe.

When a reporter commented that his injury will make it difficult for Gagne to make the team, Macha responded, “That’s an excellent observation. … Talking to Eric, he wants to play. How they figure this all out, they will start to develop a path once they read the MRI and see what’s going on.”

- Outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr., who had an MRI scan on Monday, received a cortisone shot Thursday morning for his right shoulder injury and will be shut down for three days. It’s another setback for Gwynn, who is way behind in the race for reserve outfield spots, but at least it comes at a good time. Gwynn will travel home to San Diego, where his wife, Alyse, will give birth to the couple’s second child.

“He got a shot, and hopefully that will clear [the shoulder inflammation] up,” Macha said. “If it doesn’t, then how they read that MRI was going to determine how they go on after that.”

- Catcher Angel Salome, who has served as a designated hitter in Cactus League games but has yet to play defense, is sidelined by tightness in the middle of his back. Salome departed Maryvale Baseball Park early Thursday after seeing Raasch, presumably for an x-ray and additional off-site tests.

- Third baseman Mat Gamel is making steady progress in his return from a sore right shoulder. He played catch with head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger on Thursday and remains about seven days away from full activity. Gamel served as the designated hitter in Thursday’s exhibition against the Australian national team.

- Reliever David Riske threw 40 pitches of live batting practice on Thursday, and it could be his final hurdle before appearing in a game. Riske and Gagne are the only pitchers in big league camp yet to pitch in a game.

Injury updates galore

Lots of injury news today, and much of it is not very promising:

- Both assistant GM Gord Ash and manager Ken Macha raised the possibility that Braden Looper’s oblique injury will force the right-hander to the disabled list for the start of the season. The team plans to shut him down for two weeks, meaning Looper will have to start from scratch about a month after the start of camp.

- Eric Gagne developed shoulder soreness late last week, throwing a wrench into his chances of making the club. He can opt out of his Minor League contract if he’s not placed on the 40-man roster by that date, but he has to pitch before the Brewers can make a decision.

“The date is his call,” Ash said. “If he wants to depart, he can. If he doesn’t want to depart, he doesn’t have to. Clearly, and I spoke to him this morning, he’s running out of time.”

- Tony Gwynn Jr.’s shoulder injury might be more serious than originally thought, though Ash declined to offer details until head doctor William Raasch reads the results of Monday’s MRI scan. Raasch will be back in camp on Thursday and will also examine Gagne.

- The Brewers are encouraged by Bill Hall’s recovery from a slight left calf tear, but he will not play in a Cactus League game until late next week at the earliest. Hall took part in some running drills on Tuesday.

- Reliever David Riske, who underwent surgery last fall to remove a bone spur, is scheduled for another live batting practice session on Thursday and then should be ready to appear in games.

- Third base prospect Mat Gamel returned to camp this week after going home for the birth of his first child, but he continues to rehab a sore throwing shoulder. Gamel was to appear as a pinch-hitter against the Rockies on Tuesday and will also get at-bats in a Minor League intra-squad game on Wednesday.
  

Gamel is a proud papa

Brewers PR boss Mike Vassallo passed along the news that third baseman Mat Gamel and his fiancee, Julianne, welcomed a healthy baby girl, Audrey Maddox, into the world on Friday night in Jacksonville. Gamel was there for the birth of his first child, and is expected back in Brewers camp on Monday. 

Gwynn still out; Gamel, Coffey to head out

Brewers outfielder Tony Gwynn, Jr. remains sidelined in camp and Mat Gamel and Todd Coffey are about to leave.

Gwynn continues to feel some pain in his right shoulder and will be limited from throwing until he’s completely pain-free. Manager Ken Macha said there was “some concern” that Gwynn is not improving more quickly, but that he was showing some signs of improvement. Gwynn will see the doctor again on Thursday.

Gamel and Coffey, meanwhile, were set to take a few days off to attend births back home. Coffey’s wife, Nikki, is to give birth to the couple’s third child and first son on Friday, the same day Gamel’s fiancee was to deliver the couple’s first child.

Emptying the notebook…

- Outfielder Ryan Braun is the Brewers’ resident fashion mogul. A story about his new clothing line, Remetee, will be on Brewers.com later today.

- The Brewers were unable to find a willing opponent for a “B” game on March 4 so manager Ken Macha instead scheduled an intrasquad game to keep his pitchers on track. For now, that’s left-hander Manny Parra’s day to pitch, and he will face a lineup of Minor Leaguers assembled by farm director Reid Nichols.

The Brewers do have a “B” game scheduled for March 10 in Surprise, Ariz. against the Rangers. They will play another intrasquad game on Tuesday in advance of the Feb. 25 Cactus League opener.

- Assistant general manager Gord Ash had his sit-down with Mat Gamel, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Macha was also there as the Brewers laid out their expectations for Gamel, who once again has a surprise injury. The good news is that his right shoulder impingement is not considered serious, and while Gamel is limited from throwing he was able to take part in batting practice on Thursday.

- Brewers pitchers faced hitters for the first time on Thursday. R.J. Swindle’s slow, looping curveball elicited some awkward swings, and some of the club’s baseball officials gathered to watch Trevor Hoffman face a group that included Brad Nelson.

- A downright skinny Ray King dropped by Maryvale Baseball Park and said he’s looking for a job. King, a left-handed reliever who pitched for the Brewers from 2000-2002 and again at the end of 2007, appeared in only 12 games last season for Washington but posted a 2.25 ERA in 32 games for the Astros’ Triple-A club and then pitched well in the Dominican Republic over the winter. He said he has been throwing at his nearby home in Litchfield park, Ariz. and is open to even a Triple-A job. The offseason market has not been kind to the 35-year-old.

“Crickets,” King said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

- Brewers Minor Leaguer Alex Periard was thrilled when the Brewers signed Eric Gagne and assigned him a spot in the clubhouse four lockers away. Periard and Gagne are both natives of Quebec, and Periard has never had a Franch-speaking teammate. Gagne has; he teamed with catcher Russell Martin in Los Angeles.

- Jeff Suppan took the “gold medal” in a bunting competition earlier this week between Brewers pitchers. Lindsay Gulin won the silver medal and Mark Rogers took home the bronze.

- Macha plans to control opponents’ running game from the bench this season. Last year, then-bench coach Ted Simmons allowed catchers Jason Kendall and Mike Rivera to do it themselves, meaning the players didn’t have to look into the dugout for signs calling for pickoffs and the like. Macha thinks coaches have a better perspective of what opponents are trying to do from the bench.

- Third base coach Brad Fisher started a new camp tradition on Thursday. Every morning before the Brewers stretch, one of the team’s Minor Leaguers will be subjected to a question and answer session. Judging by the laughter coming from the group that surrounded catching prospect Angel Salome, there were some good questions.

- The MLB Network is making the rounds in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues and will feature the Brewers on Sunday, March 15 at 7 p.m. CT. Former FSN Wisconsin sideline reporter Trenni Kusnierek will file the report.

Gamel, Brewers officials to chat

Mat Gamel knows that Brewers officials were not particularly thrilled with him when he reported to camp on Wednesday with a shoulder injury. He hopes a little sit-down will help clear things up.

Here’s the background: Gamel was sent home last September with an elbow injury that club officials feel he concealed. But very interestingly, Gamel insisted on Wednesday that he did try to tell medical staffers that he was hurting but got little response.

Then, he was the last player to report for Spring Training and when he showed up, he said his shoulder was hurting. He said he didn’t tell Brewers officials this time because it only happened a day or so ago, and he figured it could be dealt with when he arrived.

As for his late arrival, which garnered him little talkings-to from veterans like Jason Kendall and Mike Cameron, Gamel explained that his fiancee is pregnant and due any day. He wanted to remain at home in Florida as long as possible.

He said he’s looking forward to sitting down to front office folks to clear the air.

“It’s fine, because I’d like to sit down and let them hear my side,” Gamel said. “I tried to fight through it last year, but I also felt like I let them know that my elbow was sore.

“I wasn’t going to say anything about [the current shoulder problem], but then I thought about the negative side of not saying anything, and figured I should let them know. … Now I want to sit down and let them know what’s going on. I don’t want them to think I’m “big-leaguing” my way through my first [Major League] camp.”

It’s an interesting side story to the first full-squad workout. Gamel is extremely talented, but my understanding is that the Brewers want to be sure that he knows his responsibilities.   

Gamel sidelined by shoulder

One of the Brewers’ top prospects is beginning the 2009 season right where he ended 2008: On the sidelines.

Third baseman Mat Gamel was the last Brewer to report for Spring Training on Wednesday and he arrived complaining of shoulder pain. Gamel’s physical exam revealed an impingement similar to the one that is sidelining outfielder Tony Gwynn, Jr., and both players will refrain from throwing until the pain goes away. 

Gamel earned a September call-up last season but was sent home early when he revealed a strained right elbow that apparently had been bothering him for some time. The shoulder problem came as a similar surprise.

“He gave no indication of it,” assistant general manager Gord Ash said. “He said it happened just before he got here.”
 

Emptying the notebook…

Some random items that did not find a home in news stories over the past few days:

- Prince Fielder, Craig Counsell and Hernan Iribarren reported to camp on Monday, leaving only three players absent ahead of Tuesday’s report date for position players: Mike Cameron, Alcides Escobar and Mat Gamel. All three are expected to arrive on time.

Cameron is a veteran so it’s not surprising to see him report on time instead of early, but it’s a bit surprising that Escobar and Gamel, two of Milwaukee’s top prospects, have yet to show. Escobar planned to arrive Monday but he missed a flight out of Venezuela, and Gamel stayed back in Florida because he’s about to become a dad for the first time.

- Speaking of Escobar, assistant general manager Gord Ash said the shortstop prospect was not kicked off his winter ball team, refuting a rumor that has circulated the Internet during the offseason.

- Fielder was in high spirits, and he does appear to have slimmed down over the winter. You can see the change in his face.

- The Brewers have already scheduled a “B” game for the March 10 off-day, and will play the Rangers in Surprise, Ariz. at 9:30 a.m. that day. The team is also working to schedule a “B” game for the March 4 off-day, but has not found any takers.

Those games are intended mostly to keep Brewers pitchers on schedule. All of the regular offensive players will get that day off.

- Manager Ken Macha intends to play left fielder Ryan Braun extensively in early Cactus League games so he is ready for the World Baseball Classic. While players like Fielder get their one or two at-bats and call it a day, Braun could play some full games, Macha said.

- Camp was lively on Monday, when the pitchers were divided into teams for a bunting competition. Mitch Stetter is a surprisingly good bunter and so is Trevor Hoffman, though it’s not all that surprising since Hoffman is a former shortstop. Carlos Villanueva delivered the best bunt, landing the baseball within a small target along a virtual third base line.

On a side note, Villanueva is batting right-handed again. He tinkered as a lefty last season, but since he’s now permanently in the bullpen, he figured it was best to keep things sinple.

- General manager Doug Melvin on catching prospect Jonathan Lucroy: “That kid is going to be a player. He reminds me a little of [former A’s catcher] Terry Steinbach.”

Hall suffers Crew's first spring injury

The Brewers did not get through Day 1 of Spring Training without the first injury news of the year.

Bill Hall, the frontrunner at start at third base, was diagnosed with a partial tear of his left calf muscle on Friday and will be sidelined 4-6 weeks for rehabilitation. Hall was injured while doing conditioning work before the start of Spring Training.

Assuming his rehab progresses on schedule, Hall still could be ready in time for the Brewers’ April 7 season-opener in San Francisco. Hall underwent offseason Lasik surgery and was hoping for a bounce-back season after two down years. His best season was 2005, when Hall mostly played shortstop and belted 35 homers while hitting .270 and driving in 85 runs.

Third base is a position of relative depth for the Brewers, who have Mike Lamb back for 2009 as well as utility man Craig Counsell, who started 38 games at third in 2008. Both bat left-handed, as does prospect Mat Gamel, though the Brewers may prefer to send Gamel to Triple-A Nashville to continue work on his defense. The top right-handed option is Casey McGehee, an offseason waiver claim from the Cubs.

UPDATE at 1:48 p.m. CT:  Just got off the phone with assistant GM Gord Ash, who said Hall felt a “pop” in his calf during a working Thursday at a private training facility in the Phoenix area. He called head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger and underwent an MRI scan on Friday morning.

Asked about Hall’s availability for Opening Day, Ash said this: “We’ll know better about that [Saturday] when we see him for his physical. He’s recovered fast from injuries before, but to recover enough from this injury to get onto the field could be 30-45 days, so he might be touch and go.”

As for Plan B should Hall miss the start of the season: “We have a lot of choices. … These things will sort themselves out. You don’t like to start camp with an injury, but it is part of the game, no question, and we’ll adjust.”

Ash said Hall was the team’s only health concern that came to light ahead of Saturday’s physicals.

 

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