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Cancer scare bonds Kyles family closer together

June 17, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — When Monica Kyles learned that her husband had prostate cancer, she was speechless.

As Brewers bullpen coach Stan Kyles sat her down just after their 12-year anniversary, cancer was the farthest thing from Monica Kyles’ mind.

Likewise, Marques Kyles said learning that his father had cancer was “hard to take.””That was not at all what I expected him to tell me,” she said. “When we sat down, I thought he was going to tell me that the Brewers had called and said they were going in another direction with the team. That is the first thing that came to my mind.”

On March 17, the day his father called and informed him of the diagnosis, Marques Kyles was on his way to Bob Prevatte Field as his Limestone College baseball team was scheduled to host Francis Marion in a non-conference matchup.

That phone call only made a tough day that much worse.

“A year ago to the day, one of my best friends had died in a car accident,” Marques Kyles said. “It was just that much tougher having heard the news from my dad.

“My dad’s also one of my best friends, so just hearing that he was going through something like that — and all I really heard was ‘cancer,’ so I was devastated.”

For the Kyles family and all those involved, the news of Stan Kyles’ cancer was surprising, to say the least. When the team announced he would have surgery in late April, Kyles himself admitted to being “in shock” when he was diagnosed back in February.

Getting from the initial diagnosis to Stan Kyles’ eventual return to the club on May 25 was not exactly easy, either.

According to Monica Kyles, it’s something that was always on her mind.

“I’ve never had a problem sleeping,” Monica Kyles said. “So I went from sleeping very easily, eight to nine hours a night, to sleeping anywhere from an hour to four hours a night.

“Even after the surgery was complete, it was still touch and go. I had a lot of sleepless nights. That was the big, big thing — just constant worry.”

Since then, however, the diagnosis, surgery and recovery have only brought the family closer together.

For Monica and Marques Kyles, after they both had learned of Stan Kyles’ diagnosis, their communication increased quite a bit, as they talked daily on the phone.

In addition to talking more frequently with his stepmother, as well as keeping in close contact with his father, Marques Kyles found yet another source of support.

“I’m a big believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason,” Marques Kyles said. “I’m also a follower of Jesus Christ, so when I heard about my dad, it was tough, but my faith drove me to take a lot of time to pray about it. That really helped me great through it.”

Since the successful surgery and Stan Kyles’ return to the Brewers less than four weeks later, the bad news they received in February has turned into a blessing in disguise.

For Stan Kyles, it has changed his outlook on life.

“There’s just a new vigor about what I want to do,” he said the day of his return. “At the park or away from the park with my family … I’m looking forward to everything. The good, the bad, even the struggles that we went through … it didn’t seem as bad.”

Perhaps more importantly, the diagnosis has raised the family’s awareness of the realities of prostate cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer accounts for approximately one in four newly diagnosed cancers each year among American men, while an estimated 217,730 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2010.

An expected 32,050 men in the U.S. will die from prostate cancer in 2010, as it is the second-most common cause of cancer death in men, behind only lung cancer.

As a part of its commitment to the fight against prostate cancer, Major League Baseball supports the Prostate Cancer Foundation and its Home Run Challenge each year around Father’s Day.

Anyone can donate to the PCF Home Run Challenge on the Prostate Cancer Foundation website, while each home run hit in 60 selected games in June — including all 15 games on Father’s Day — raises money to fight prostate cancer, the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in America.

To show their support for the Home Run Challenge, all players will wear blue wristbands and blue PCF ribbons on their uniforms on Father’s Day.

With prostate cancer affecting about one in six men in their lifetime, it’s certainly something that’s higher on Marques Kyles’ radar now.

“I had a teacher in Fall 2008 who had prostate cancer,” Marques Kyles said. “At the time, though, I didn’t really think about it. I didn’t realize how many men really suffered through that. But once it hit home and had an effect on my own family, it had a greater impact.

“A lot of times cancer can be hereditary. So, it makes me take more precaution in my future and the things that I want for my life and hopefully the family I have some day.”

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.

Family ties highlight Crew’s Day 3 picks

June 9, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — For their picks in the 47th and 48th rounds of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday, the Brewers didn’t have to go far to do their research, as they selected the sons of two club employees.

In the 47th round, with the 1,419th overall pick, the Brewers selected left fielder Billy Schroeder, son of former Brewers catcher and current Brewers broadcaster Bill Schroeder.

One round later, with the 1,439th overall pick, left-handed pitcher Marques Kyles, son of bullpen coach Stan Kyles, was the Brewers’ pick.

For Schroeder, a 6-foot, 210-pound senior from Grand Canyon University, the Brewers’ selection is an honor, but it does not appear as though he will join the organization.

“He’s not going to play, he has other irons in the fire,” said Bill Schroeder of his son before Wednesday’s game. “But it was nice of them to do that.”

Kyles, on the other hand, has different plans than Schroeder.

According to his father, there’s a good chance the 6-foot-9 senior out of Limestone College will sign on to play with the Brewers.

“He’s looking forward to it; it’s a good opportunity for him,” Kyles said of his son. “He’s graduated, and with the way the job market is now, there’s not a whole lot of things out there even though he had a double major.

“He’s looking forward to having time to devote just to baseball over the next year.”

According to Ray Montgomery, assistant amateur scouting director for the Brewers, the picks have to do with more than just name recognition, too.

For one, Stan Kyles is a lefty, something the club valued highly in the Draft.

“Left-handed pitching is always in demand,” Montgomery said. “I don’t think you can ever have enough of that.”

Kyles’ size, in addition to being a lefty, make him a prime candidate to be the type of “gem” the club was looking for on the Draft’s final day. With its knowledge of his father’s ability as well, Kyles was the perfect fit for a late-round selection.

“I played with Stan Kyles about 30 years ago, and Stan was a good player,” said Bruce Seid, the Crew’s scouting director. “Marques is a 6-foot-9 lefty. He’s got a ways to go, but he’s got a lot of whip to his arm and he’ll get some time to develop. We’re happy to be able to bring him in to be a Brewer.”

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