Results tagged ‘ Takashi Saito ’

Banged-up bullpen notes

Who knew that head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger would play such an important role in the Brewers’ assembling their 2011 bullpen?

Closer John Axford, set-up men Takashi Saito and LaTroy Hawkins and left-handed long man Manny Parra had all yet to make their Cactus League debuts as of Thursday morning because of various ailments, and hopefuls Pat Egan and Mitch Stetter were in the same camp. 
“It’s a little unusual for your bullpen guys, because they’re usually just throwing an inning,” manager Ron Roenicke said. 
At least all of those players were on the right track:
— Parra, who was slowed by some middle back stiffness, was to pitch Thursday afternoon against the A’s at Maryvale Baseball Park. 
— Axford was set back by a bout of food poisoning, an unfortunate side effect of his Valentine’s Day dinner with wife Nicole. The Brewers took a cautious approach with Axford while he regained strength, and he’s to debut against the Giants on Friday in Scottsdale, Ariz. 
— Hawkins (shoulder) and Saito (hip and hamstring) each threw bullpen sessions on Wednesday with no setbacks, manager Ron Roenicke said. 
It was Hawkins’ first mound work since major shoulder surgery last August, and he said the 20-pitch session went “great.” He won’t appear in games until mid-month at the earliest. Saito asked for his Cactus League debut to be pushed back because of tightness that he worried could lead to trouble with his right shoulder, like it did in 2010, so he won’t make his Brewers debut until Saturday against the Angels.
The issues were not limited to the established pitchers. 
Stetter, trying to regain the foothold in the organization that he had in 2009, when he made 71 appearances in the Majors, suffered a strained latissimus dorsi muscle behind his left shoulder prior to camp but is scheduled for a bullpen on Friday. 
The latest name to come up in Roenicke’s morning meetings with reporters was Egan’s. The 6-foot-8 righty has been slowed by tightness around his right hip, Roenicke said, but is expected to throw off a mound on Friday, perhaps against the Giants. Egan had a similar ailment last spring with the Orioles.
Egan is particularly interesting partly because he’s a Rule 5 Draft pick, and would have to stick on Milwaukee’s 25-man roster or be offered back to the Orioles.
Given he’s never pitched in the Majors, Egan might be a long shot for a bullpen that, barring future injuries, is full except for one spot. Right-handers Sean Green, Mike McClendon, Brandon Kintzler and Justin James are among the others vying to impress Roenicke and pitching coack Rick Kranitz in camp.
“I’m not concerned about them being ready to pitch [at the start of the season], but what I’m concerned about is if guys are trying to make the team and they’re hurt, then, yes, they need to be out there to throw as much as they can,” Roenicke said. “[Egan] would certainly be one of them. Any time you have a Rule 5 guy, you have to see as much of him as you can.”
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Morning Brew: Saito, Hawkins, starting rotation

Some notes from the Brewers’ clubhouse this morning:


You can add Takashi Saito to the list of Brewers being very cautious with minor medical matters. Saito was supposed to make his unofficial Brewers debut on Wednesday against the Cubs, but he requested the outing be pushed to Saturday against the Angels. 
On Wednesday, the 41-year-old Saito will throw a bullpen session instead. 
“Right now, I’m kind of tight in my hamstring and my hip,” Saito said through translator Kosuke Inaji. “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, but last year when I hurt my shoulder, I feel that the reason was i hurt my hamstring and tried to throw harder with my shoulder. 
“It’s still early in Spring Training, so I want to be careful right now.”
The schedule shift means Saito is on pace for nine innings of Cactus League work this spring instead of 10. He said as long as he gets into eight games, he’ll be ready for Opening Day. 
Right-hander LaTroy Hawkins is scheduled for a bullpen on Wednesday, his first mound work since undergoing right shoulder surgery last season. Hawkins would have to throw a series of bullpens, then live batting practice before appearing in a Spring Training game. 
If he continues to progress on schedule, Hawkins could pitch in a game by the middle of the month. He’s aiming to be ready for the Brewers’ March 31 season-opener. 
Zack Greinke makes his Brewers debut against the White Sox today in Glendale, Ariz., one of my favorite spring venues, maybe because I got to attend a game here last spring as a fan. We prodded him again today, but manager Ron Roenicke still was not ready to reveal his plans for the starting rotation. 
Asked when he would be ready to make public his intentions, Roenicke said, “I imagine it will come pretty soon.”
As I wrote yesterday, it sounds as if he will use left-hander Randy Wolf in Game 3 of the season to separate him from the other lefty, Chris Narveson, who will be fifth out of the chute. That leaves Greinke, Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum to fill Games 1, 2 and 4. The fourth game is a big one because it’s the Brewers home opener, and Roenicke made clear he views that as a prestigious assignment.
Might he have to sell it as such?
“I may,” he said. 
Roenicke has had conversations with two of the pitchers about his thinking, and has said before that their desires could play a role in how they line up. 
“I want to hear how they respond,” Roenicke, who declined to reveal details of those talks. He conceded that someone is bound to be disappointed, considering Greinke, Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum all started on Opening Day last season. 
“But that’s good,” Roenicke said. “If guys are upset about not pitching that opener, that’s good. Any time you have guys that want the ball all the time, that’s great to have.” 
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Tech bridging clubhouse language barrier

Members of the Brewers’ clubhouse crew have a new tool to communicate with Japanese pitcher Takashi Saito and some of the Spanish-speaking players in camp. They installed the Google Translate app on their iPhones and have been testing it this week. 
It works pretty well.
“It does, although it translates things into a very formal way of speaking,” said Kosuke Inaji, the translator for Japanese import Takashi Saito. “It’s as if you would be speaking to the President. But it’s correct — it gets the point across.”
Veteran club employees Phil Rozewicz and Jason Shawger demonstrated the program to a reporter. Rozewicz spoke into his phone: “Can I help you with anything today?” The app repeated the phrase in Japanese. 
For the more complex conversations, Brewers employees and reporters will turn to Inaji, 24, who also served as Saito’s translator last season in Atlanta. Inaji was born in Japan and crew up in Orange County, California, and has put grad school on hold to spend a few years in the big leagues. Saito’s contract calls for the Brewers to hire a translator, so Inaji is technically a club employee.
Saito has picked up some English during his five years in the Major Leagues and has been meeting his teammates over the past few days. He said he picked the Brewers over offers from other teams partly because of the earlier acquisitions of starters Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum. 
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Counsell, Green, Saito contract details

For those keeping track of the Brewers’ payroll obligations for 2011, here are some updated figures on recent free agent signings:

— Infielder Craig Counsell’s one-year deal to return to the Brewers pays him a $1.4 million base salary with a chance to earn an additional $450,000 in incentives for games and starts. He’ll get $50,000 each for 50 and 70 games played, $75,000 for 85 and 100 games played, and $100,000 each for 50 and 70 starts.
— Reliever Sean Green gets a non-guaranteed $875,000 base salary, as I reported when he signed just before Christmas, with a chance to boost his pay to an even $1 million with incentives. Green gets $25,000 for 50 appearances, $50,000 for 60 appearances and another $50,000 for 70 appearances.
— The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported this morning that reliever Takashi Saito’s one-year contract pays a $1.75 million base salary with $1.5 million available in performance bonuses. According to the newspaper, Saito would get $50,000 each for 15, 20, 25 and 30 appearances; $100,000 each for 35, 40 and 50 appearances; $150,000 for 50 and 55 appearances; and $200,000 for 60 appearances. He’ll also benefit from staying off the disabled list. Saito can earn $100,000 each for 30, 60, 90, 120 and 150 days on the active roster. 
I thought some Brewers fans may also be interested in the deal Chris Capuano signed with the Mets. Milwaukee made him an offer to return early in the offseason, but the sides broke off talks after the Zack Greinke trade essentially completed the Brewers’ rotation. 
I’m not sure what kind of offer the Brewers extended, but here’s what Capuano ended up getting in New York: A $1.5 million base salary with a slew of incentives that kick-in whether he ends up as a starter or a reliever. He’ll get $125,000 for 15 starts, $150,000 for 20 starts, $75,000 each 21-31 starts, $100,000 for 32 starts and/or $100,000 each for 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 relief appearances. Here’s the key: He can earn a maximum of $1.2 million for starts and relief appearance bonuses combined. 
Capuano will also get $50,000 for 90 innings; $100,000 each for 100, 110, 120 and 130 innings; $125,000 for 140 innings; $175,000 each for 150 and 160 innings; $200,000 each for 170 and 180 innings; $225,000 for 190 innings; $250,000 for 200 innings. 
So, assuming I can add, if Capuano has a magical season and makes all of his starts and tops 200 innings (like he did in 2005 and 2006), he’ll earn $4.5 million. Math people — help me out if you get a different figure.
He’ll also get $50,000 for being an All Star and $150,000 for winning Comeback Player of the Year.
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Saito deal could cap Brewers winter

The Brewers on Wednesday finalized their one-year contract with right-reliever Takashi Saito, a move that might signal the end of their major offseason acquisitions. 
Saito will draw a base salary of less than $2 million but could earn incentives for appearances and days on the active roster to push his salary close to the $3.2 million he earned with Atlanta last season. He posted a 2.83 ERA and one save in 56 relief appearances for the Braves while holding opponents to a .203 average.  
In Milwaukee, Saito will likely fit alongside right-hander LaTroy Hawkins and left-hander Zack Braddock as the primary set-up men to second-year closer John Axford. Saito turns 41 on Valentine’s Day. 
There is still business to be done, including talks with second baseman Rickie Weeks about a contract extension and four other arbitration-eligible players — Prince Fielder among them — to be signed for 2011.  And Brewers officials are always on the lookout for waiver claims or budget signings just before Spring Training. 
But considering the big moves already made, most notably the trades for starting pitchers Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, it made sense to ask general manager Doug Melvin whether he might have just added his final significant piece. 
“Well, the roster is full,” he said. 
Indeed, Saito left the Brewers with a full 40-man roster five weeks and one day shy of the date pitchers and catchers must report to Maryvale Baseball Park. 
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Brewers reach deal with reliever Saito


The Brewers have agreed to terms with veteran reliever Takashi Saito on a one-year contract, adding yet another new arm to a pitching staff that has undergone a complete overhaul since the calendar turned to December.
Saito’s base salary will be less than $2 million but he can earn bonuses for games finished to push his earnings close to the $3.2 million Saito pocketed from the Braves in 2010, when the right-hander posted a 2.83 ERA in 56 games. He will be 41 by Opening Day. 
The Brewers offices are closed this week for the holiday, so the club will not make an official announcement about Saito until next week. But a baseball source with knowledge of the deal confirmed it Monday, after the news started breaking in Japan. 
“He pitched a lot of eighth innings for the Braves, setting-up Billy Wagner, and [the Brewers] liked that about him,” the source said. “He’s almost a Solomon Torres-type, the kind of guy with experience in the late innings who could step in and save a game when you have three or four save opportunities in a row. Solomon was probably a little more of a workhorse, but [Saito] has the same experience.” 
Torres pitched for the Brewers in 2008 and eventually took over closer duties from Eric Gagne, helping the Brewers win the National League Wild Card. 
Saito has pitched the past five years in the U.S. Major Leagues after beginning his career in Japan and has a 2.19 ERA, 84 saves and a 1.022 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) in 292 appearances since the move. He’s pitched for the Dodgers, Red Sox and Braves. 
In Milwaukee, Saito will join a late-inning bullpen mix that includes fellow right-handed veteran LaTroy Hawkins and two young pitchers, second-year closer John Axford and left-hander Zach Braddock. Assuming Saito stays healthy, the Brewers could bump right-hander Kameron Loe to more of a seventh-inning role along with recently-added right-hander Sean Green. Left-hander Manny Parra is expected to fill another bullpen slot. 
If any of those pitchers experiences a setback before Opening Day, the Brewers will have right-handers Brandon Kintzler, Mike McClendon, Justin James and Rule 5 Draft pick Pat Egan all vying for big-league bullpen jobs in Spring Training, plus left-hander Mitch Stetter and nonroster invitee Mark DiFelice, a righty working his way back from a 2010 season lost to shoulder surgery. 
“There will be some competition,” the source said. 
When Saito’s contract is finalized, the Brewers’ 40-man roster will be full. His signing capped a busy December that began with the team trading for Blue Jays right-hander Shaun Marcum and also included a blockbuster trade for Royals righty and ’09 American League Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke and the much less-heralded addition of former Mets reliever Green. 
Saito is represented by CAA Sports, the same agency that has Greinke and Brewers All-Star outfielders Ryan Braun and Corey Hart.
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