Results tagged ‘ R.J. Swindle ’

Riske hurt; Swindle on his way up

The Brewers placed reliever David Riske on the 15-day disabled list today with a tight right elbow and called-up lefty R.J. Swindle, who will join the team in time for the start of a three-game series against the Mets at new Citi Field.

What stood out to me about the Brewers’ announcement was that Riske traveled with the team to New York this afternoon but will fly across the country on Monday to visit Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles for a second opinion. I haven’t covered too many pitchers over the years who traveled to see the renowned Yocum and ended up with nothing more serious than tightness in his elbow. Eric Gagne saw him earlier this spring, but he had “some pathology” in his shoulder, as Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash explained it. In other words, there was more going on in the joint than inflammation.

Riske had surgery last fall to remove a bone spur from his elbow but said this spring, even while allowing at least one run in nine of his 11 Spring Training games, that he felt physically fine. He’s in the second season of a three-year contract that once again illustrates the risks associated with awarding multi-year deals to pitchers.

Hopefully, rest and rehab will be enough. Riske could be a very key member of the bullpen this season if he gets healthy.  

Emptying the notebook…

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

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.

Was Brian Shouse a victim of the market?

Al over at Al’s Ramblings, one of my favorite Brewers blogs, pointed out what I forgot to amid all of the Brewers pitching moves this week. Brian Shouse, everyone’s favorite 40-year-old left-hander, officially signed his contract with the Rays and it was only a one-year deal.

We were told all along by Brian and by Brewers officials that the thing preventing his return to Milwaukee was Shouse’s wish for a two-year deal. Then, for the week or so that he reportedly had terms in place with Tampa Bay and was waiting for the deal to become official (I was told the Rays’ corresponding roster move contributed to the hold-up) it was reported that Shouse had, in fact, agreed to a two-year deal.

Instead, Shouse, who earned $2 million with the Brewers in 2008 and posted a 2.81 ERA, his best mark since 2004, took a pay cut to $1.35 million in 2009 and the Rays hold a $1.9 million option for 2010 with a $200,000 buyout. Remember that he declined the Brewers’ offer of arbitration to seek a two-year deal on the open market. I can’t imagine that a guy who put up such solid numbers over the last two years would have been in line for a pay cut in arbitration, so it appears Shouse settled for a one-year contract for less than what he could have earned from the Brewers.

Add Shouse to the list of players who got burned by the economic conditions this winter. When I talked to him in November, Shouse was very optimistic about his options and was getting serious interest from a number of teams including the Tigers and Cardinals. Then his name seemed to vanish from the rumor mill as the free agent market froze up. Another quality lefty reliever, Joe Beimel, is still looking for a job. (Our Dodgers reporter, Ken Gurnick, wrote an interesting story about Beimel this week.)

The Brewers will be going with a young guy in Shouse’s place. Mitch Stetter and R.J. Swindle will compete during Spring Training for a spot in the bullpen.

Pitchers and catchers reported today but do not take part in their first formal workout until Sunday. I’ll be heading down to Phoenix on Saturday morning and will try to hit the ground running.

– Adam