Results tagged ‘ Zach Braddock ’

Illness sidelines Fielder, Braddock

Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder was sent home to begin a program of antibiotics for a sinus infection, the latest annoyance for a club that has sure had its share this spring. 

For those scoring at home, that’s eight of the nine projected Opening Day starters who have missed a Spring Training game with some sort of medical matter. Reliever Zach Braddock is sick, too, and will miss his scheduled outing against the Padres on Tuesday. 
Fielder cut short his batting practice on Monday, complained of feeling ill and was scratched from the starting lineup for a game that was ultimately rained out. With Fielder still out on Tuesday, here’s Milwaukee’s lineup for the day before the off-day:

Rickie Weeks  2B
Carlos Gomez  CF

Ryan Braun  LF
Casey McGehee  3B
Mark Kotsay  RF
Yuniesky Betancourt  SS
George Kottaras  C
Erick Almonte  1B
Marco Estrada  RHP
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Gallardo looks ready; Braddock not so much

Yovani Gallardo put together another quality Spring Training start on Wednesday, holding the Mariners to one run on three hits in 4 2/3 innings before reaching his limit at 74 pitches. In four games, he’s held opponents to four runs in 13 1/3 innings. 

“My command was a little bit off today, but I made some pitches whenever I needed to,” he said. “They battled, fouled off a bunch of pitches and my pitch count got up there.
    
“I feel good. The spring is going very well, and the last couple of starts you try to put everything into it.”
He was in the middle of an exiting moment in the bottom of the third inning, when Mariners outfielder Milton Bradley was called out on strikes by plate umpire Mark Buchanan. Bradley had some words on his way back to the dugout and was ejected. 
Did he have a beef with Buchanan?
    
“From my side, it was a pretty good pitch,” Gallardo said. “Especially on 3-2, I had to make a good pitch and I was able to do that down and away. It was close. I think it was a strike.”
Gallardo is scheduled for three more starts before his Opening Day assignment on March 31.
He appears ready for the season, but it’s tough say the same for left-handed reliever Zach Braddock, who was such an important part of the Brewers’ bullpen in 2010. He worked the seventh inning, and surrendered a single to Franklin Gutierrez, hit Jack Wilson with a pitch and then served-up a three-run home run to Brendan Ryan that tied the game at 4. 
Two days earlier, Braddock walked a batter, hit another and surrendered a two-run homer to left-handed-hitting Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff. His velocity has been down this spring, and you wonder if Braddock, who has all of his Minor League options remaining, isn’t opening a door for somebody like lefty specialist Mitch Stetter. 
Here’s what manager Ron Roenicke had to say on that topic:
“If you know that, ‘Hey this is what we’ve told you to do,’ then fine, but I don’t think Rick [Kranitz, the pitching coach] has necessarily said that,” Roenicke said. “He’s working on some things, no doubt, but he still needs to pitch and get people out.”
Roenicke thought Braddock was better Wednesday after working in some sliders, a pitch former manager Ken Macha also encouraged Braddock to work on. Braddock’s next outing could span multiple innings so the club can get a better look, and it could come in a Minor League game.
On a brighter note, Roenicke was very pleased with Takashi Saito’s inning, and said the right-hander left after the game to pick up his wife and daughters from the airport. It must be a relief for Saito to have his immediate family safe and together considering the issues facing Japan.
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Brewers say Hart out two weeks

ANOTHER UPDATE postgame — Ron Roenicke’s understanding is that Hart should be back in game shape in two weeks, not that he’ll be shut down for two weeks. There’s a distinction there. The bottom line is that oblique injuries are tough to predict, so let’s just see how Hart progresses.

UPDATE at 2:10 p.m. CT — The Brewers just announced that Hart would engage in “rest and recovery” for the next two weeks, so that’s a somewhat more serious take on his injury. Here’s an update to the earlier note:
Brewers right fielder Corey Hart will miss about two weeks of exhibition games while recovering from a strained muscle along his left rib cage, the club announced Monday. 
That marked a somewhat more serious diagnosis than the one Hart gave a few hours earlier, after he was examined by Dr. Craig Young at Maryvale Baseball Park. Hart said he only expected to be shut down “a few more days.” 
“I think it’s hard to tell exactly how long it’s going to be,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “But [assistant GM Gord Ash] said there is a strain there, and he wants to be overprotective of it. I was a little bummed when I heard two weeks.” 
Roenicke’s understanding is that Hart could be back playing in games in two weeks, not that he would be entirely shut down for that entire period. 
Hart was hurt during a throwing drill Saturday. He said it was the first time he’d tweaked an oblique muscle in his career. 
“[Young] said we would probably push it a little harder if we were in the middle of the season, but there’s no reason to push it right now,” Hart said. “We’re going to try easing in so we don’t have any setbacks at all.”
Hart’s duties on Monday were limited to receiving treatment in the training room. He was among the handful players on the injury report as the Brewers kicked off their exhibition schedule:
– Relievers John Axford (illness), Manny Parra (back), Zach Braddock (blister), LaTroy Hawkins (shoulder) and Mitch Stetter (undisclosed) were not on the list to pitch against the Giants of Cubs. Axford suffered a bout of food poisoning early in camp and has slowly been working back. Parra had some minor back stiffness last week and was scheduled to throw a live batting practice session on Monday. Braddock had a small blister last week that should not keep him out long, and Hawkins remains on schedule in his return from last year’s shoulder surgery. Manager Ron Roencike said only that Stetter was being brought along slowly this spring.
– Top pitching prospect Mark Rogers was very encouraged by a throwing session on Sunday and hopes to get back on the mound by mid-week. Rogers, who has a long injury history, shut down a live batting practice session last week because of some stiffness in his right shoulder. 
“I felt great yesterday playing long toss,” he said. “It’s the best I’ve felt all spring. We’re slowly working our way back into it. I’m sure a bullpen is in the near future. I’d guess in the next few days. So far, it’s responded better than I expected it to.” 
It’s difficult to sit around with the exhibition schedule underway. 
“I’ve got the itch,” Rogers said. “I want to pitch.”
– Infielder Mat Gamel remains restricted from hitting because of his own rib-cage strain. He’s been able to take part in fielding drills during his layoff. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy is out with a fractured right pinkie finger. He has a doctor’s appointment for late this week to set a plan for rehab.
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Rookies making impact

It seems to me that the silver lining of an otherwise lost Brewers season is the slew of rookies who have proven they fit at the Major League level. With that in mind, here’s a preview of a feature set to hit Brewers.com later today:

escobar-lucroy.jpg
The Brewers broke camp with one rookie on the Opening Day roster — shortstop Alcides Escobar. Now, they’re everywhere. 
“It feels like half the team!” Escobar said. 
Not quite, but the Brewers have certainly skewed younger since the start of the season. On a given day in August the Brewers could start Escobar at shortstop, Jonathan Lucroy behind the plate and Lorenzo Cain in center field, with Zach Braddock ready in relief to face the opponent’s toughest left-handed hitter and John Axford on hand for a save opportunity.
When rosters expanded on Wednesday, right-hander Jeremy Jeffress joined the group. He’s only 22, and when he trotted in for the bottom of the eighth inning against the Reds, he threw his first pitch above Double-A. 
This is not necessarily the way general manager Doug Melvin drew it up in Spring Training. Cain and Lucroy, in particular, probably could have used more Minor League seasoning considering they both began the year in Double-A. But as needs arose, Melvin reacted. 
And the kids responded. 
“When we came up, we knew we had a job to do,” Braddock said. “There was going to be a learning period, but we also needed to do the job that was asked of us.”
Braddock and Axford — along with non-rookie Kameron Loe — were crucial in the Brewers’ midseason makeover of a bullpen that cost them dearly in April. Braddock has a 2.76 ERA in 36 games and, while he allowed a couple of inherited runners to score on Wednesday, is unscored upon in all but four of his outings. Axford claimed the closer’s role brilliantly from Trevor Hoffman, going 19-for-21 in save chances including seven saves of four or more outs. 
Lucroy was summoned in May after the Brewers lost starting catcher Gregg Zaun to a season-ending shoulder and top catching prospect Angel Salome to personal issues. Lucroy has proven serviceable, hitting .265 with four home runs and showing improvement in his game-calling and defense. 
The Brewers promoted Cain briefly in July and then recalled him for good in early August when center fielder Carlos Gomez went on the disabled list with a concussion. Cain has taken hold of the position, flashing some surprisingly spectacular defense while hitting .300 with a .351 on-base percentage in 70 at-bats.
Escobar has had the ups and downs the Brewers expected during his rookie season. He’s hitting .251. 
It will take some time for them to really settle in. 
“They’re coming along,” manager Ken Macha said. “But my experience is that normally it takes about three years for guys really to settle into the Major Leagues. You know who’s pitching, how they pitched you, you start to learn the hitters, what they do, all that kind of stuff. 
“You’re comfortable with your surroundings. You know what to expect when you come to the ballpark. It takes some time for guys to make that leap forward to being a Major League player.” 
Which Brewers rookie do you think will end up being the best Major Leaguer?
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Estrada to start Sunday; Braddock coming up

Sunday’s series finale could be a bit of a scramble for the Brewers. 

The team optioned left-hander Mitch Stetter to Triple-A Nashville after Saturday’s long loss to the Twins and recalled another left-hander, Zach Braddock, to serve as a fresh arm in the bullpen. Marco Estrada, who threw 21 pitches in relief today, will start Sunday’s series finale. Manager Ken Macha said that Manny Parra, who was originally scheduled to start Sunday, said he could also work a couple of innings of needed after he threw 29 pitches in 1 2/3 innings on Saturday in taking the loss. 

Why aren’t the Brewers bringing up a starter from Nashville? Logistics. With a 1 p.m. CT game on Sunday and the Triple-A club in Fresno, Calif., no flights were available that would get a pitcher to Minneapolis in time. 
The Brewers also considered a promotion for Double-A Huntsville’s Amaury Rivas, who already is on the 40-man roster, but again travel issues blocked the move. 
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Gomez to the rescue; Braddock, too?

Jody Gerut returned home to Chicago on Thursday morning for the birth of a child, leaving the Brewers’ short bench even shorter. And that was before catcher Gregg Zaun left the team’s game against the Pirates in the second inning with a strained right shoulder. 
Zaun’s diagnosis came as a surprise considering he appeared to hurt his left hand in the top of the second inning when a Paul Maholm pitch looked like it struck both Zaun’s hand and the handle of his bat. Zaun complained earlier this season of a knot behind his right shoulder that led to some throwing issues. 
George Kottaras replaced Zaun, leaving only two healthy position players on the Brewers’ bench: infielder Craig Counsell and utility man Joe Inglett. 
The team had already been playing short one position player since last week, when a decision was made to go to a 13-man pitching staff to help the struggling bullpen. But that bullpen was short, too, with closer Trevor Hoffman unavailable while he works out some mechanical issues. 
Help should arrive Friday from center fielder Carlos Gomez, who is on track to be activated from the 15-day disabled list. He has not played since May 5 because of an injured left shoulder and would be a welcome right-handed bat on the roster. Macha conceded Thursday that teams have taken advantage lately of the Brewers’ left-handedness off the bench. 
The Brewers also were strongly considering a promotion for left-hander Zach Braddock, who could help against Minnesota’s tough left-handed hitters including former American League MVPs Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Braddock, though, is not on the 40-man roster, so a corresponding move would have to be made ahead of Friday’s series opener at Target Field.  
The 22-year-old Braddock has worked 10 scoreless outings for Triple-A Nashville this season plus one poor outing in which he surrendered eight runs in 2/3 of an inning. 
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Triple-A Sounds off to 4-0 start

The Brewers will be trying to follow the lead of their Triple-A affiliate when they face the Cubs at Wrigley Field this week. 
The Nashville Sounds on Sunday finished a four-game road sweep of the Iowa Cubs with a 4-2 win and got another home run from outfielder Brendan Katin. Nashville’s 4-0 start is its best since 2003, when that eventual division champion club started the year 8-0. 
Katin already has three home runs and six RBIs after batting .417 in the season-opening series. Sounds relievers have only allowed one run in 14 1/3 innings, and closer Chris Smith already has three saves. Zach Braddock and John Axford, two relievers who figure to make their way to the big leagues at some point this season, have two scoreless outings apiece.
The Sounds continue their road trip on Monday with the opener of a four-game series against the Omaha Royals. Left-hander Chase Wright will make his first start of the season.
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Brewers decide on relief role for Braddock

The Brewers appear to have settled on a role for left-handed pitching prospect Zach Braddock. He’s bound for Triple-A Nashville to work out of the bullpen.  
“It’s certainly looking that way,” Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said. 
And why not, considering the recent success Braddock has enjoyed in relief? Arm injuries prompted the Brewers to put the power lefty on a closely-monitored relief schedule in 2009, and he posted a 1.79 ERA and a sparkling 0.868 WHIP in 26 appearances for Class A Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville. 
He won a nonroster spot in big league camp this spring and didn’t allow an earned run in any of his seven Spring Training appearances, striking out 10 batters with no walks. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning against the Tigers on Friday night for his second save, and after the game-ending strikeout he jumped off the mound, pumped his fist and ran to catcher George Kottaras for a high-five and an embrace. 
“I was definitely fired up,” Braddock said. “This has just been a great opportunity and a great experience so far. I wanted to make the most of it and I’m excited to take the tools I’ve learned from some of the older guys down [to Nashville]. …
“With having some success right now, I don’t want to get too high on it. It’s experience at this level, more than anything. It’s Spring Training. I really haven’t done anything. But it’s nice to have the experience and to do as much as I can while I’m here.”
Braddock said he was looking forward to a set role this season. 
“The structure is going to allow me to build on the things I’ve already started,” Braddock said. “If [the bullpen] is where the Brewers want me and need me, then I’m going to do my best to build my structure around that. I’m still learning.”
He will be part of what projects as an excellent bullpen in Nashville. Chris Smith will handle most of the closer’s duties, but Braddock could work the ninth from time to time and so could right-hander John Axford. Other Sounds relief options include former big leaguers Tim Dillard and A.J. Murray.
Ash said that the organization was trying to veer from a one-inning mindset in the Minors, so Axford, Braddock, Smith and the other Nashville relievers could see opportunities for multi-inning saves. 
A couple of additional Minor League notes:

– Left-hander Chase Wright is expected to begin the season as Nashville’s fifth starter behind Marco Estrada, Kameron Loe, Chuck Lofgren and Chris Waters. Lofgren, Waters and Wright are all left-handed, meaning the top levels of the organization are stacked with southpaws. Right-hander Josh Butler should join this group relatively early in the season, once he recovers from an elbow injury. 

– The Double-A rotation will feature right-handers Amaury Rivas, Alex Periard, Mark Rogers, Michael Bowman and left-hander Chris Cody. Former first-round Draft pick Jeremy Jeffress should join once he finishes serving a 100-game suspension, and fellow righty Evan Anundsen was also targeted for Huntsville before he “tweaked” his shoulder on Friday, Ash said. Anundsen will begin the season on the disabled list.
Huntsville’s bullpen will include former first-round Draft pick Mike Jones. 
“We didn’t have a starting spot for him so we’re going to send him to Huntsville to launch his relief career,” Ash said. 
– The Class A Brevard County closer will be right-hander Nick Green, a changeup specialist whose 2009 season was marred by a neck injury. 
“It’s an idea,” Ash said. “In our minds he has one supreme pitch, and his fastball is also good enough. You want to win games, of course, but the Minor Leagues should be a place to work on things like this.”
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Macha on Braddock: 'Overpowering'

Some notes from Ken Macha’s morning meeting with reporters:

Asked for his assessment so far of left-handed pitching prospect Zach Braddock, Macha started with one word: “Overpowering.”
“‘Stuff’ is not going to keep him out of the big leagues,” Macha said. “He’s got explosive stuff. It’s a matter of putting it where he wants to. This is a guy who could contribute before the year is over.”
Brewers officials have had internal discussions whether Braddock fits as a starter or a reliever.  For now, Macha would slot him into the latter category. 
“When you evaluate all pitchers, you try to look at his equipment and I don’t think he has anything soft,” Macha said. “I would put him more in the reliever category at this time.”
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There is enough pitching for five innings of intrasquad baseball on Wednesday at Maryvale Baseball Park, with Dave Bush and Manny Parra scheduled to start. For fans in the area, the game will probably begin at 12: 30 p.m. or 1 p.m. MST. 
Don’t expect any big changes with pitchers’ schedules early in the Cactus League. They will work two or three innings on a pitch count in their first outings. 
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Macha will break the catchers in camp into two groups of three at the start of Cactus League games, and the groups will alternate each day. Gregg Zaun and George Kottaras are lined up as the “lead guys,” backed up by Jonathan Lucroy and Matt Treanor and then Martin Maldonado and Angel Salome. 
“The reason it’s ranked like that is manager’s discretion,” Macha said. “That’s the way I rank them. Can that be rearranged? Absolutely. Everybody will get an opportunity.”
It’s an important camp for Salome, who remains a top Brewers prospect but missed an opportunity to impress Macha because of a back injury. 
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Braddock, Lucroy contribute in AFL title game

Left-hander Zach Braddock struck out the side in a scoreless third inning and catcher Jonathan Lucroy sparked the winning rally with a single in the eighth as the Peoria Javelinas captured the Arizona Fall League Championship with a win over the Phoenix Desert Dogs on Saturday. Phoenix had won the league title in each of the past five years.

Braddock and Lucroy were the only Brewers prospects to appear in the game. With Peoria trailing in the eighth, 4-3, Lucroy lined a one-out single to left field before White Sox prospect C.J. Retherford lifted a go-ahead, two-run homer.

For full coverage of Saturday’s championship, check out Tom Singer’s game story on MLB.com. You can link from there to AFL stats and the final standings.

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