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No shortage of praise for Hoffman in Brewers clubhouse

September 9, 2010 Comments off

Following last night’s thriller, which featured career save No. 600 for Trevor Hoffman, we had a sidebar on his Brewers teammates’ reactions to the moment.

While that story captured the emotions and feelings in the clubhouse, there was far too much to fit in after the game. With a guy like Hoffman who’s frequently described as the “best teammate,” there was hardly of lack of things to say in the home clubhouse.

Braun: “Like we were going to the playoffs”

According to left fielder Ryan Braun, the emotion following the final out of the game was far greater than the meaningless early September game that it starter out as.

“It felt like we were going to the playoffs,” he said. “It was exciting. I think it was exciting for all of us to have something to celebrate, for all of us to have been a part of something so special. That’s something that we might not ever see again. Who knows if anybody else ever gets to 600 saves.”

Coffey: “I was 100 percent spectator”

Perhaps most excited about the achievement — more so even than Hoffman himself — were Hoffman’s bullpen mates.

Reliever Todd Coffey described his feelings as “beyond goosebumps” as he become more of a spectator than a teammate. After that, he went on for a few minutes about the emotions he felt both when Hoffman entered the game and recorded his 600th save.

“As soon as he walked out of the bullpen, the entire bullpen was up and I think we were all clapping louder than the fans, we were hollering louder than the fans,” Coffey said. “I don’t think any of us actually realized we were in the bullpen. We were all out there with Hoffy.

“We were hanging over, we even thought about, ‘let’s just jump the wall and go. Then we thought, ‘we better not jump the wall.’

“I think me, Zach [Braddock] and Kam[eron Loe] all hit the pile at the same time. I think I felt the whole pile moving when we hit it. It’s an experience that I’ll never forget. He’s always there for every one of us. For us to be there for him, it’s amazing. He cares less about himself and more about his teammates than anything else.”

Davis: “Just incredible”

Others had less to say, but their thoughts were no less insightful.

Veteran left-handed starter Doug Davis recalled being part of a similar moment early in his career.

“Definitely the most exciting thing I’ve ever been a part of,” Davis said. “My first win was John Wetteland’s 300th save. I thought that was impressive, but this, twice as many saves, it’s just incredible.”

Bush: “An amazing number”

Another Brewers starter, right-hander Dave Bush, took particular notice of the number of people in the dugout during that final inning, as everyone wanted the best view they could get of Hoffman’s historic save.

“It’s an amazing number, one that nobody’s ever gotten to before,” Bush said. “I can’t even fathom at all what it takes to reach that.

“It was exciting. Probably the most people I’ve ever seen in the dugout in the ninth inning. Everybody was coming down here because they wanted to be as close to it as they could. As a player, moments like that are few and far between. To be his teammate and to be around for something like is just awesome.”

Lucroy: “I’m totally lucky and blessed”

After beginning the season at Double-A Huntsville, catcher Jonathan Lucroy called the game Tuesday night, including Hoffman’s thrilling ninth.

As he waited on the mound for the all-time saves leader, with “Hell’s Bells” blaring from the stadium speakers, Lucroy said he had goosebumps and began to shake from the nerves.

He stayed relaxed behind the plate, though, and didn’t change a thing. Until the final out as he ran down toward first base.

“It’s something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life and cherish,” Lucroy said. “To be able to remember something like that, it’s a blessing for me to even be able to experience it.

“To see him achieve a goal like that is just something that every baseball player lives for. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy. He totally deserves it. It’s an honor for me to even be here and just experience it.

“I was jacked up and excited. I told myself I was going to sacrifice my life to get an out for him if I needed to. I was going to go everything I could to get an out, no matter what I had to do, I was going to sacrifice everything for him.

“For somebody like that, to put in the kind of work he has, to play for as long as he has, and have the kind of character that he has, and for something like that to happen to him, and for me to even be there and be a part of it, it’s an unbelievable feeling.

“I was the first one [to the mound]. Usually I run down to first base and back up on ground balls, but I cut it off halfway. I was going to go get there first as fast as I could. I grabbed him and he grabbed me in a headlock and then everybody else hit and we went at it.

“It’s not very often you see grown men crying out there and there were grown men crying on the field. It was very emotional, I was trying to hold back as best I could. It’s just the payoff for so much hard work and just shows you that if you work hard and be a good person in this game there’s a lot of good things that happen to you.

“I’m totally lucky and blessed to even be here. To experience that, I don’t even deserve that. I don’t even deserve to be on the same field as that guy.”

Axford: “My heart was racing the entire time”

Of course, no story about Hoffman’s historic accomplishment would be complete without some mention of his replacement, rookie John Axford.

As has been the case all season, Axford had nothing but positive things to say about his mentor in the Brewers bullpen.

“He’s meant everything to my development because he carries about his business perfectly. He does everything right,” Axford said. “That’s been the best mentor for me. I just try to watch him and see what he does and see how I can build upon that. Every time I go out there I just try and do right by Trevor. I just want to do basically what Trevor would do and do things the right way.

“My heart was racing the entire time once the ‘Hell’s Bells’ started. My heart was going and it didn’t stop the entire time until we’re actually here right now and I’m still talking a mile a minute. I still feel the emotion and the rush from it. I think it was absolutely unbelievable.”

“It’s a cool kind of turn around. At the beginning of the year, I got my first save and Hoffy went in and got a hold for me. Now I got to go in and save that game for him, which is probably going to be the best hold of my entire life right there. I’m definitely glad I was in that game for sure.”

McGehee: “The ultimate professional”

Third baseman Casey McGehee admitted he was nervous when Hoffman entered the game. In fact, he was just hoping the ball wasn’t hit to him.

Once the final out had been recorded, however, McGehee was thrilled to be a part of such a big moment and to have played with someone who is the all-time leader in any category.

“I think the reaction of all the guys kind of let everybody see how important to this team and to us he is,” McGehee said. “You couldn’t have asked for it to happen to a better guy. He’s the ultimate professional with everything he does.

“There’s not too many people you played with that you can say you played with the all-time best anything. When my career is over and I’m sitting around telling stories at a bar somewhere, that’s going to be one of the ones I tell.

“You can’t block that out, we all knew what was going on. Most of us, we’re huge fans of the game. Coming up, we remember watching Trevor Hoffman when he was in his prime and he was virtually unhittable. To be any small part of it, it’s pretty special.

“Some of these guys that got called up today, first day in the big leagues, not a bad way to start your big league career.”

Fielder: “Happy to be a part of it”

The final out was recorded by Prince Fielder, as veteran shortstop Craig Counsell fielded a ground ball and fired to Fielder at first.

As Fielder closed his first-baseman’s mitt on the ball, he joined McGehee and Lucroy as the first three players to embrace Hoffman on the mound.

“It was awesome,” Fielder said. “Coming into this year, you knew he was close to getting it. Everything he had to go through to get to it and he finally got it, I’m really happy for him. It’s really awesome.

“It [ranks] up there just because it’s your teammate and it’s a really special moment and something that nobody else has ever done. That’s what makes it even more special and I’m just really happy to be a part of it.

Narveson: “Pretty amazing”

But none of it would have been possible had it not been for an impressive seven-inning performance by lefty starter Chris Narveson.

His brilliance on the mound was lost in the shuffle, but everything was set up by one of Narveson’s best starts of the 2010 season.

“That was pretty amazing,” Narveson said. “To be able to witness it and be the guy that started that game, was pretty special.”

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Brewers beat 7/27

July 28, 2010 Comments off

Hart likely to remain with Brewers

MILWAUKEE — Right fielder Corey Hart said all along that he wanted to remain with the Brewers. This isn’t exactly the scenario he had in mind.

Hart missed his fourth consecutive start on Tuesday with a sore right thumb and said he’s hoping to return to Milwaukee’s lineup on Friday in Houston.

“I felt better throwing today than I did yesterday,” Hart said. “I took some dry swings today because it was feeling better. I’m not quite ready, but it’s a lot of progress from the past couple days.

“I probably still won’t play tomorrow, but I might be able to hit tomorrow. … Then I’m sure I’ll do stuff on the off-day in Houston, and then I’d imagine I can do everything on Friday. I think I’ll be ready on Friday.”

The ill-timed injury has likely cost the Brewers any chance to shop their All-Star right fielder in trade talks ahead of Saturday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Before he was hurt in a collision with the outfield wall last weekend against the Nationals, Hart was reportedly drawing some interest from a number of teams, including the Giants, Padres, Braves and Rays, all of whom possess the kind of young pitching that Brewers general manager Doug Melvin would seek in return for one of his established hitters.

But as the Brewers continue to win, carrying a five-game winning streak into Tuesday night’s contest, manager Ken Macha and the club would like to get Hart back on the field as soon as they can, provided he remains in a Brewers uniform.

“I spoke with him today. He still has some discomfort, but he says it’s getting better every day,” Macha said. “I asked him about the Houston series and he’s feeling good about that.

“He’s still a ways off. I asked him about Houston, he said he hopes so.”

Hawkins eyeing weekend return

MILWAUKEE — After more than 2 1/2 months on the disabled list, veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins finally has a set date for his expected return to the Brewers.

“He’ll probably be activated during the Houston series,” manager Ken Macha said.

Hawkins, who went on the DL with right shoulder weakness on May 9, pitched two scoreless innings on Monday night for the Nashville Sounds, allowing just two hits, while tossing 21 strikes in 28 pitches.

Most important for Hawkins, a 37-year-old right-hander, he has not had any setbacks since beginning his rehab assignment, and he felt as good on Monday night as he has since going on the DL.

“When you’re injured, you always have to think about, ‘Am I ever going to feel like I felt before I got injured?'” Hawkins said.

Since starting his rehab assignment on July 15, Hawkins has pitched for the Brewers’ Rookie League team in Arizona, as well as the club’s Triple-A affiliate in Nashville.

Hawkins, who is in his 16th season in the Major Leagues, learned a lot during his time away from the field.

“You kind of find yourself when you’re on the DL. You’ve got a lot of time to think and reflect and do a lot of other things that make you not take this game for granted,” Hawkins said. “Going back to the Minor Leagues is definitely a humbling experience, seeing those guys and how hard they work.

“It makes you appreciate where you are and what you have.”

With his return expected this weekend in Houston, Hawkins will be joining the club on the road trip, something that hasn’t happened in quite a while.

How does Hawkins feel to be getting back on the road with the club?

“Good,” Hawkins said, “especially going on the road in the big leagues.”

Brewers take part in community work

MILWAUKEE — The Brewers Community Foundation gave itself a well-deserved pat on the back Tuesday and announced it had raised $1.5 million so far in 2010 for nonprofit groups in Wisconsin.

Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Craig Counsell and Doug Davis attended a press conference at Rainbow Park in West Allis, Wis., to highlight the contributions of 15 Brewers players to various community causes. Those players then took part in mini-clinics with kids at Harvey Kuenn Field, which received assistance from the Brewers’ charitable arm last summer after sustaining flood damage.

Other Brewers were active in the community on Tuesday, too. John Axford, Zach Braddock, Chris Capuano, Kameron Loe and Dave Riske joined a group of former big leaguers that included Jim Gantner and Larry Hisle for a clinic hosted by the Major League Baseball Players Association Players’ Trust. More than 250 local Little Leaguers and members of the Boys and Girls Club took part.

A few hours later, Capuano, Counsell, Weeks, Corey Hart and Trevor Hoffman hosted the Players Association’s “Buses for Baseball” event. The players welcomed 50 students from Our Next Generation, an organization that provides academic support and other services to urban children.

Worth noting

Brewers prospects will be part of the Surprise Rafters in this year’s Arizona Fall League, and Double-A Huntsville manager Mike Guerrero will serve as the team’s skipper. The league announced its club and staff assignments on Tuesday, and the Brewers were paired with the Tigers, Royals, Cardinals and Rangers at Surprise Stadium, the Spring Training home of the Royals and Rangers. Rosters are typically finalized in late August and play begins this year on Oct. 12.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brewers beat 6/30

June 30, 2010 Comments off

Fielder puts slow start behind him

MILWAUKEE — Prince Fielder has quickly made his slow start a thing of the past.

Fielder is just trying to do what works best for him, and it’s working pretty well right now. On the Brewers’ current homestand, Fielder has four home runs and eight RBIs, increasing his season totals to 17 homers and 35 RBIs.

With his recent power barrage, including a pair of long balls Tuesday night, Fielder leads the Majors with 10 home runs in the month of June. The key, according to Fielder, is just doing what he’s always done.

“I’m just trying to swing like I swing,” Fielder said. “I’ve never been a guy to swing easy. When you’re not getting results people want you to do different things.

“The only thing I’ve been trying to do different is swing the way I swing. I’ve never been a guy that hits singles to left field. That just happens.”

Fielder remains fifth on the team in RBIs with 35, but it has more to do with timing than with Fielder’s production. While he has 10 homers this month, he also has just 16 RBIs.

Including a two-run shot in the third inning on Tuesday, only four of Fielder’s 17 home runs this season have come with runners on base. None of them has been with more than one runner on base.

By comparison, out of Fielder’s 46 home runs in 2009, nearly half (24) came with runners on base, including nine with two or more runners on base.

Still, with Fielder hitting home runs, the Brewers’ offense, which leads the National League in home runs, total bases and extra-base hits entering Wednesday’s game, is only going to get better.

“His RBI total has gone up, too,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “However he wants to knock them in — solo homers, base hits — it’s OK with me.”

Milwaukee pitchers providing some offense

MILWAUKEE — Facing the Brewers, the No. 9 spot in the batting order is hardly an easy out. Yovani Gallardo reaffirmed that on Tuesday night, going 1-for-1 with a solo homer and a walk.

With a .219 batting average, Brewers pitchers lead the National League. Milwaukee’s pitching staff is tied for first with 33 hits and 14 runs. Brewers pitchers also rank first in home runs (3), RBIs (14), doubles (8), on-base percentage (.261), slugging percentage (.331), and OPS (.592).

Along with their success, the Brewers staff has even coined a phrase to describe it.

“These guys have got a quote in here in the dugout,” said Brewers manager Ken Macha. “They say, ‘Pitchers rake.'”

While the hurlers’ ability to swing that bat has come in handy quite a bit of late, Macha would like to see them improve on another aspect of the game at the plate: bunting.

The Brewers rank last in the NL with just eight sacrifice bunts, while they have more than four times as many hits.

“We’ve been working on our bunting,” Macha said. “We’ve got more hits than we do sacrifice bunts. So we’ve been putting some time in on the bunting, because eventually we’re going to need to move [a runner] up.”

Still, on the current homestand, Brewers pitchers have been even better at the plate than their season average of .219. More than double that even.

With eight hits in 18 at-bats, the pitching staff had posted a .444 batting average entering Wednesday’s final game of the homestand. Along with that .444 mark, the Brewers have gotten two RBIs, five runs, a walk and a home run out of the pitcher’s spot.

Each of the Brewers’ five starters — Gallardo, Randy Wolf, Dave Bush, Chris Narveson and Manny Parra — has contributed at least one hit, while all of them except Bush have either scored a run, driven in a run, or both.

“We have some pretty good [hitting] pitchers,” Gallardo said. “We have a lot of fun up their hitting. [Wolf], [Bush], Narveson and Manny, we take it serious. For certain situations, you can only help yourself out. I think that’s what we try to do.

“We joke around out there when we hit BP, but you never know when it’s going to come in handy.”

Offense struggles with shadows at home

MILWAUKEE — The shadows aren’t going anywhere, deal with it.

That quote, from Rickie Weeks in 2009 about the shadows during Miller Park day games, was recalled by manager Ken Macha on Wednesday when asked about the effect they’ve had on the Brewers’ offense.

Even so, the Brewers have not hit well during the day at home.

In 14 home day games, the Brewers have just a .238 team batting average, with just 51 runs scored and 15 home runs.

“Get it out of your mind and go up there and bear down the best you can,” Macha suggested before Wednesday’s game. “I hate the saying, but it is what it is. The other teams play in the same thing.

“Does it make it tougher? Yes, it does. But there are shadows in Anaheim, there are shadows in Boston, almost every stadium’s got the shadows.”

On the season, the Brewers have been nearly 30 points better overall than in home day games, with a .267 batting average. With 96 home runs in 77 games, the Brewers average 1.24 homers per game.

That rate goes up slightly at night, as they hit 1.29 per game. During the day, however, it dips to just 1.07 homers per game.

Some hitters, however, perform even better during home day games. Weeks and Casey McGehee are hitting .320 and .308, respectively, during home game days. Even more impressive is Carlos Gomez at home during the day, with a .303 average, compared to just .239 overall this season.

Most affected by the shadows seems to be left fielder Ryan Braun. In 53 at-bats during home day games, Braun has just eight hits, good for a .151 batting average.

Braun entered Wednesday having not hit a home run at home during the day, while collecting just three doubles for a .208 slugging percentage. With a .207 on-base percentage — boosted by three walks — Braun has just a .415 OPS in home day games.

Of all hitters with at least 25 at-bats in home day games, Braun’s average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and OPS rank last.

With that in mind, day games at Miller Park may seem like a good time for a rare day off for the Brewers’ left fielder. For Macha and the Brewers, however, the current roster situation and recent pitching matchups have not allowed for such a move.

“At a later date I might give him a day off when we have a day game,” Macha said. “Today, we’ve got a lefty going. The last day game, they had a lefty going.

“My roster is what it is, too.”

Davis has successful rehab outing

MILWAUKEE — He was not as dominant as in his last rehab start, but Doug Davis was effective on Wednesday as he took the mound for Class A Wisconsin in Appleton.

Davis tossed seven strong innings, surrendering just one run on six hits. He hit a batter, walked three and recorded four strikeouts. The lefty tossed 96 pitches — four shy of his targeted total of 100 — with 63 going for strikes.

Following the start — Davis’ last rehab outing — he will meet the Brewers in St. Louis. Davis is expected to pitch again during the Brewers’ four-game home series with the Giants next week. On normal rest, his next start would coincide with that of right-hander Dave Bush.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brewers beat 6/29

June 29, 2010 Comments off

Crew must alter rotation for Davis’ return

MILWAUKEE — At least one Brewers pitcher likely will not make their regularly scheduled start in the next homestand, manager Ken Macha said Tuesday.

If everything goes according to plan in his rehab start Wednesday for Class A Wisconsin, lefty Doug Davis will return to the rotation sometime during the Brewers’ four-game series with the Giants.

Macha does not expect to use a six-man rotation, which means one Brewers starter — not Yovani Gallardo — will be bumped from a start in the San Francisco series.

“Unless we have two guys throwing at the same time,” Macha said. “Six, I don’t think that’s going to happen. If we do six, then that pops somebody out at the other end over the last three days there.”

Without Davis’ return, the Brewers’ probable pitchers for the Giants series would be Dave Bush, Randy Wolf, Chris Narveson and Manny Parra. As Davis’ rehab start falls on Wednesday, his next outing on regular rest would coincide with Bush’s scheduled appearnace.

While Davis is anxious to return to the rotation, he understands it will force out another starter, something he is not pleased to do.

“They’re going to have to cut ties with somebody with me coming back,” Davis said. “I hate to see anybody leave and get sent down, or whatever it is, because of me.

“I know it’s part of the game, but if we’re winning I have no reason to say, ‘I can come in and do better than this guy.’ With the way we’ve been playing and the way they’ve been pitching, I can’t.”

At the same time, the success of the rest of the pitching staff only makes Davis want to get out on the mound that much sooner.

“There’s only so much you can do on the DL to help your team win,” Davis said. “Just to get back out there and get on the mound and actually contribute to a winning ballclub is something that you really can’t replace on the DL.”

Hawkins shows progress in bullpen session

MILWAUKEE — With another day came another step forward for reliever LaTroy Hawkins, who is finally seeing some progress with his right shoulder weakness.

Hawkins threw off the mound in a bullpen session Monday for the first time since going on the disabled list. By all accounts, things went as well as could have been expected.

“All reports were good,” said Brewers manager Ken Macha. “[Pitching coach] Rick [Peterson] was very pleased. I asked [bullpen catcher] Marcus [Hanel], who caught him, and he said he had some late life, he had pretty good velocity, free and easy. A lot of positive things.”

Macha said he planned to announce what the next step would be for the veteran right-hander after an upcoming bullpen session.

“We’ll wait until after Thursday,” Macha said, “and then I’ll do that update.”

Coffey working out arm angle issues

MILWAUKEE — Another reliever appears to be having arm angle issues for the Brewers.

Todd Coffey has struggled in his three appearances since returning from the disabled list on June 20. The right-hander has relinquished four runs — two earned — in one total inning of work. According to manager Ken Macha, the angle of his pitches is the issue.

“Flat. Everything’s flat in the zone,” Macha said. “Guys that he normally gets out — I think [Hunter] Pence was 2-for-11 off him and [Pedro] Feliz was 1-for-11 off him — they whacked him pretty good.”

While Coffey’s arm angle may be the cause of the flatness of his pitches, Macha said something else is causing him to have those issues.

The Brewers’ hope now is that Coffey will do what needs to be done to fix it. On Tuesday, the first step was early work for Coffey in the bullpen.

“He pulls off the ball, his front side opens early and his arm drops down,” Macha said. “He went into ruts like that last year at times, and he got it straightened out.”

Riske unconcerned with rare rough inning

MILWAUKEE — He was bound to give up a run eventually.

But the issue was not that Milwaukee reliever David Riske let Houston touch the scoreboard on Monday. The noticeable difference in his effectiveness was the cause for concern for some.

“Those hitters get paid, too, just like I do. It happens,” said Riske, who was not troubled by his outing. “You can’t be perfect every time.”

Riske, who had not allowed run in his first six appearances since coming off the disabled list June 8, surrendered two runs on two hits and a walk in one inning against the Astros.

According to Riske, his delivery may have been too fast, which caused his arm to drag a bit. He added that he wasn’t throwing as many strikes as he usually does. Manager Ken Macha said he thought Riske left some pitches up with a lack of movement.

“His split and changeup have been very good,” Macha said. “But when they were belt-high, they would up hitting them.”

Riske said he did not go back and watch his inning — and he does not plan to do so.

Instead, he just plans to move forward and try to get better results next time.

“I was just a little off, I had an off night,” Riske said. “I’m not worried about it. Not at all.”

Brewers add Jeffress to 40-man roster

MILWAUKEE — With an open spot available, the Brewers added right-handed reliever Jeremy Jeffress to the 40-man roster on Tuesday, optioning him to Class A Wisconsin.

Milwaukee designated Chris Smith for assignment when reliever Todd Coffey was activated from the disabled list, opening a spot on the 40-man roster. Smith eventually accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Nashville, but the open spot remained.

Jeffress, 22, was a first-round selection by the Brewers in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. His time with the club has been marred by separate 50- and 100-game suspensions for testing positive for “a drug of abuse.”

Since signing with the club in 2006, Jeffress has played for the Double-A Huntsville Stars, Class A Advanced Brevard County Manatees and the Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs

Brewers beat 6/26

June 26, 2010 Comments off

Davis to get one more rehab start

MILWAUKEE — Lefty Doug Davis is scheduled to start again Wednesday, when he’ll take the mound in Appleton for Class A Wisconsin in his third rehab outing.

After meeting with pitching coach Rick Peterson, bullpen coach Stan Kyles and general manager Doug Melvin earlier in the day, Brewers manager Ken Macha said Saturday they had decided they were not ready to put Davis back in the rotation just yet.

As a result, he’ll pitch for the Timber Rattlers with a target of 100 pitches. After that outing, Macha said he plans on Davis starting for the Brewers again shortly thereafter.

“We’ll fit him in somewhere before the All-Star break and he’ll get his first start back,” Macha said. “There were a whole bunch of reasons and I’m not going to enumerate them, just a whole bunch of reasons.

“Some of them are obvious. We’ve got guys pitching well. We’re going to get him slotted in and we’ve worked on trying to get everything lined up for a series and all the way up to the All-Star break.”

As for the blame as far as keeping Davis on the disabled list for another rehab start, Macha pointed to no one but himself.

“I told him if he’s upset, don’t be upset with anybody else but me,” Macha said. “He wants to get back in to pitch. But he was very understanding and he’s going to get back in to pitch.”

When Davis does return to the rotation, the Brewers could use five or six starters, Macha said. Regardless of what they do, changes will have to be made to both the rotation and the roster to fit Davis in.

As much as Macha would like to get Davis back in to pitch again, he recognizes the status of one starter in particular is not his top priority.

“We’ve got agendas to fill,” Macha said. “The No. 1 agenda is to get everybody in position to pitch well so that we can continue winning some games.”

Gerut, others on DL unsure of return date

MILWAUKEE — While one Brewers starter at least got some plan on Saturday for when he’ll return to the field, the general trend in the clubhouse among injured players seems to be a lack of any target date for their return.

Outfielder Jody Gerut made progress Friday taking batting practice for the first time since going on the disabled list, but remains unsure of when he’ll return from a bruised right heel. Likewise, a pair of Brewers relievers have no clear idea of when they’ll be back.

Veteran right-hander LaTroy Hawkins, who has been on the DL since May 9, is one of those two.

“I just do what [trainer] Roger [Caplinger] tells me,” Hawkins said. “If Roger tells me I can throw off the mound, I’ll throw off the mound. I’m out there though at 150 feet. I think I even got out to 170 feet yesterday, with no pain today.

“I’m just taking my time, but I should be close, because I’m getting out there pretty far.”

Hawkins’ fellow reliever, right-hander Marco Estrada, has been on the DL since June 4 with right shoulder fatigue, retroactive to June 1.

Though he was eligible to return on June 15, Estrada remains very limited in what he is able to do.

“It’s better, I had a cortisone shot a couple days ago,” Estrada said of his shoulder. “The pain’s still kind of there, but it is getting better. I can’t do anything. I have to wait until the doctor says I can start doing stronger work outs.

“Then hopefully I can play some catch, but I really couldn’t even tell you when that will be. I’d like to be back tomorrow, or at least play catch tomorrow, but who knows.”

Worth noting

Legendary broadcaster Bob Uecker was at Miller Park again on Saturday. When asked before the game what the time frame for his return was, Uecker admitted that he was unsure. … Since beginning the season 4-14, the Brewers have gone 11-5 at home, including a 4-1 record in series play. … Milwaukee currently is enjoying a season-high five-game winning streak. … With 13 and 11 hit by pitches, Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder, respectively, are first and second in the Majors. Weeks moved ahead of Fielder with two on Friday.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs

Brewers beat 6/25

June 25, 2010 Comments off

Zduriencik returns to Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE — For the first time since leaving to become general manager of the Seattle Mariners, former Brewers director of scouting Jack Zduriencik returned to Miller Park on Friday for the clubs’ Interleague series.

“It’s great walking back in here,” Zduriencik said. “It’s nice to see these guys doing so well. All the guys are great. We came in from the right-field line and a lot of the guys came over and said hello.

“It’s good to see so many of them doing so well.”

Zduriencik, who joined the organization in 1999, has been credited by many for putting together the talented young core that the Brewers have been built around for several years.

During his time in Milwaukee, Zduriencik was the first non-general manager to receive the Major League Executive of the Year Award from Baseball America in 2007.

Some notable selections during Zduriencik’s time with the Brewers include Corey Hart in 2000, Manny Parra in ’01, Prince Fielder in ’02, Rickie Weeks in ’03, Yovani Gallardo in ’04, Ryan Braun in ’05 and Jonathan Lucroy in ’07.

Since leaving the Brewers, however, Zduriencik has not enjoyed as much success in Seattle as he, or anyone else in the organization would have liked. In particular the club’s offense has struggled quite a bit

Of late, though, the team has been on a hot streak, winning six of its last seven.

“We’ve played well lately, unfortunately the club ahead of us has played a little bit better,” Zduriencik said. “[The Rangers] have won 11 in a row. We play good and we lose ground. So we’ll see what happens, though … there’s a lot of season to be played.”

While he’ll finally get to see his former club in person this weekend, Zduriencik said he keeps up on the Brewers quite a bit along with his duties as the Seattle general manager.

Zduriencik also said he hoped to face the Brewers again after this weekend.

“I watch the Brewers all the time,” Zduriencik said. “I told all these guys out here today that I’m proud of what they’ve done. I pull for them all the time. I’d love for them to win this division and go on.

“It would be a dream come true to be able to play this club in the World Series.”

Davis takes next step toward return

MILWAUKEE — While lefty Doug Davis made his second of two planned rehab starts on Thursday, the Brewers do not plan to make a decision on his next step until Saturday.

Pitching in his second rehab start for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds, Davis quieted the Memphis Redbirds over an impressive five-inning outing. Davis threw 82 pitches, giving up just two hits and one walk while striking out nine batters.

“Everything went well,” Davis said. “I don’t know what their plan for me is yet. All I know is, I’m ready, so it’s up to them now when they’re ready for me.”

Manager Ken Macha said that he planned to meet with pitching coach Rick Peterson, bullpen coach Stan Kyles and general manager Doug Melvin on Saturday to discuss the future of the pitching staff and in particular, their plan for Davis.

“We’re going to have a huge summit tomorrow,” Macha said. “Rick, Stan Kyles, myself and Doug will sit down and probably talk for five minutes. So it’ll be a huge summit. It’ll be along the lines of the Russian president and Obama, the meeting they just had.

“We’ll try to figure it out, it’s nice that he’s healthy and he threw the ball well last night.”

Macha added that he had his own idea for what might happen, but was unsure whether it would be the consensus opinion.

Additionally, he noted one part of the plan that he knew for certain.

“He pitched the same day that [Yovani Gallardo] pitched,” Macha said. “So I don’t think he’s going to pitch on Yo’s day.”

Gerut takes batting practice

MILWAUKEE — Nearly a month after going on the disabled list with a bruised right heel, outfielder Jody Gerut took batting practice on Friday for the first time since the injury.

Gerut, who went on the disabled list on June 7 — retroactive to May 27 — said everything felt fine in his first session at the plate in more a month.

“I’m finally making some improvements, I’d say I’m probably about halfway there,” Gerut said. “It was nice to be back on the field again and break a sweat.”

Despite the positives that came out of his session, Gerut remained unsure of when he would be able to return to the active roster.

“I really don’t know, I wish I could be more specific, but I can’t do it,” Gerut said. “It’s been a month and they were targeting two to three days. So with that wide of a range, how could I possibly put a date on it in the future?”

Brewers manager Ken Macha said that he too was unsure whether Gerut would return anytime soon, but seemed to think it would be later rather than sooner.

“I can’t tell you where he is,” Macha said. “I’m sure he’s going to have to go play some games. He’s going to have to run, too. I’d say he’s a while yet, but we’re all happy that he at least he took some BP today.”

After sitting for more than a month, Gerut certainly is eager to get back to game action.

“I’m bored, I find this whole thing uninteresting,” Gerut said. “I’m not having fun not playing. I’d rather be playing.”

Braun dines with fans at new restaurant

LAKE GENEVA — As Ryan Braun opened his second restaurant on Thursday, he was greeted by a huge crowd of fans who had traveled near and far to meet the left fielder.

One family drove more than 10 hours from their Michigan home to meet Braun. The reception was a bit of a shock for Braun.

“This is far more people than I expected to see come out here tonight,” Braun said. “I was expecting more of a low key, quiet, private gathering. But it’s great, I’m really impressed.”

Ryan Braun’s Tavern and Grill, located at 430 Broad Street in Lake Geneva, Wis., saw an impressive turnout as it opened its doors for the first time.

According to Tom Romano, who owns the restaurant along with Braun, the restaurant seated an estimated 400 customers, while an additional estimated 600 patrons were in attendance to see Braun throughout the night.

After arriving just after 7:30 p.m., Braun finally managed to get a bite to eat around 9 p.m. It was the first time Braun had tried anything on the menu, and the budding restaurateur was impressed once again.

“It was great, I got to take some time and try a few different appetizers and desserts along with my meal,” Braun said. “I had the filet, and everything I had was just great. Our chef does an excellent job.”

Braun, who said he used to get down to Lake Geneva on every Brewers off-day, expects to make more trips down to the city now that his restaurant has opened.

Though much of his night was filled with almost constant requests for autographs and photographs, Braun said one of the best parts of the night was getting to meet his fans.

“It’s awesome, the community here in Lake Geneva is great,” Braun said. “I’ve been here a lot, but I’ve never really met many of the people who live in the area. They’ve all been very nice and given a lot of feedback, both about the Brewers and the restaurant.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brewers beat 6/13

June 13, 2010 Comments off

Pair of hurlers on the mend

MILWAUKEE — After piling up a number of injuries near the end of May and beginning of June, the Brewers have a number of players working their way toward a return to the field.

In addition to lefty Doug Davis, who is set to make two rehab starts for Triple-A Nashville before rejoining the Brewers on June 29, right-hander Todd Coffey appears ready to return in the next week.

Manager Ken Macha noted that Coffey, who was placed on the disabled list with a right thumb injury on June 6 — retroactive to May 30 — played catch on Sunday and felt good afterward.

Coffey, who is eligible to return from the DL on Monday, will join the Brewers on the upcoming road trip, Macha said.

“He’s going on the road trip, and he will have one rehab assignment before he gets activated,” Macha said. “I watched him down in Florida do his long toss, and he had trouble with the grip. One ball would go over there and one ball would go over there, so we want to make sure he’s putting it right where he needs to put it.”

Fielder trying to find groove at plate

MILWAUKEE — While the Brewers went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position on Saturday, first baseman Prince Fielder posted his own 0-for-4 mark.

It was another disappointing game for Fielder, who homered in the first inning on Sunday to push his totals to 11 home runs and 23 RBIs. Fielder slugged 46 homers and drove in 141 runs in 2009. Brewers manager Ken Macha said that he discussed Fielder with Rangers skipper Ron Washington, and both had a similar take.

“The guy’s trying too hard,” Macha said. “Your start is what it is. You’re not going to all of a sudden drive in 10 runs in one game to get your RBI total up. You’re not going to do that, you’ve got to chip away at it.”

In particular, Macha pointed at Fielder’s eighth-inning at-bat against Rangers reliever Frank Francisco as an example of what not to do.

Fielder swung at all five pitches he saw during the at-bat, including multiple pitches that were out of the strike zone.

“First-pitch curveball, swung at it; changeup, swung at it; couple balls up, swung at them; curveball in the dirt, swung at it,” Macha said. “He had five pitches and swung at all five of them.”

Macha acknowledged that he didn’t want to put too much pressure on one guy, however, despite Fielder’s extended early-season struggles.

He also noted what he hoped to get out of his left-handed slugging first baseman over the season’s final 100 games.

“We both had hopes of him having another great year, but you just don’t rack up 140 RBIs and assume it’s going to happen every year,” Macha said. “So for the next 100 games, if he can maybe drive in 70 runs or so, that would be a big help. And I think that’s a conservative number, I don’t expect him to drive in 120 runs the next 100 games.”

Wolf stays positive despite struggles

MILWAUKEE — After an impressive season with the Dodgers in 2009, lefty Randy Wolf hasn’t gotten off to the kind of start the Brewers would have liked so far in 2010. But it’s not a matter of the quality of his stuff, Wolf said.

“I think it’s all between my ears, to tell you the truth,” said Wolf. “I think I was trying to dictate the result before throwing the pitch and not just throwing it. You can’t control the result.

“You go up there, you throw the pitch. Whatever happens after that happens. I think I was just trying to control the result and be too perfect. When you do that, you make more mistakes than you would otherwise.”

Wolf, who signed a three-year, $29.75 million contract with the Brewers during the offseason, did not think he was trying to live up to his contract, however.

Through 13 starts, Wolf is 4-6 with a 5.31 ERA, giving up 46 earned runs on 88 hits through 78 innings of work. In his most recent outing, Wolf gave up a career-high five home runs against the Cubs.

Still, Wolf remains confident in his abilities.

“I think it’s just a matter of getting my mind in the right direction, because it’s not a matter of stuff,” Wolf said. “My stuff’s probably better this year than it was last year. It’s just a matter of being aggressive and having the right mind-set.”

Third-rounder highlights 24 signees

MILWAUKEE — The Brewers announced on Sunday that they signed 24 players from the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, as well well as one undrafted player.

Right-handers Tyler Thornburg and Matthew Miller, as well as third baseman Cody Hawn, selected in the third, fifth and sixth rounds, highlight the 24 signees for the Brewers.

Overall, the Brewers have signed 13 pitchers — one of which is Marques Kyles, son of bullpen coach Stan Kyles — and 12 position players.

Players will be reporting to either Helena, Mont., or Phoenix — a mini-camp will be held in each location, and it will begin Monday.

Below is a list of all 25 signees:

Tyler Thornburg, RHP, Charleston Southern, Round 3
Matthew Miller, RHP, Michigan, Round 5
Cody Hawn, 1B, Tennessee, Round 6
John Bivens, RF, Virginia State, Round 12
Mike Walker, 3B, Pacific, Round 14
Brian Garman, LHP, U of Cincinnati, Round 17
Shea Vucinich, SS, Washington State, Round 20
Kevin Berard, C, Barbe High School, Round 22
Ryan Bernal, RHP, Florida Atlantic, Round 23
Gregory Hopkins, 3B, St. John’s, Round 24
Nick Shaw, SS, Barry University, Round 25
Alex Jones, RHP, Jacksonville State, Round 27
Dane Amedee, LHP, LSU Eunice, Round 28
Daniel Britt, RHP, Elon University, Round 29
Eric Marzec, RHP, Youngstown State, Round 30
Mike Melillo, C, Elon University, Round 31
Jason Rogers, OF, Columbus State, Round 32
William Kankel, LHP, Houston University, Round 33
Seth Harvey, RHP, Washington State, Round 37
Michael Schaub, RHP, Loara High School, Round 38
Kenneth Allison, CF, Angelina JC, Round 39
John Dishon, CF, Louisiana State, Round 42
Thomas Mittelstaedt, RF, Long Beach State, Round 44
Marques Kyles, LHP, Limestone College, Round 48
Dexter Bobo, LHP, Georgia Southern, Undrafted

Worth noting

Brewers rookie catcher Jonathan Lucroy celebrated his 24th birthday on Saturday. … Brewers relievers have a 2.22 ERA over the past seven games.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.