In the time leading up to Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox at Miller Park, the Milwaukee Brewers alerted everyone that their posted lineup would be changing. Jean Segura, who had been set to play shortstop and lead off for Craig Counsell, would no longer be participating in that evening’s contest. The given reason was soreness in Segura’s pinky finger on his right hand.
Scorebook pages were swapped out or updated with the new player and the new batting order, but beyond that nobody gave it another thought, really. Well, until this morning anyway.
That’s when a pair of tweets hit the interwebz from the Brewers official account. The first alerted us that Segura’s finger soreness was being understandably caused by a fracture.
SS Jean Segura has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured right fifth (pinky) finger, retroactive to 5/13.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) May 14, 2015
The second filled us in on how the Brewers would be managing the roster in light of the news.
INF Luis Sardiñas will be recalled from Triple-A @skysox tomorrow to take the spot of SS Jean Segura, who was placed on the DL.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) May 14, 2015
While it’s obviously terrible news that “Seggy” will miss time, that he will is an unavoidable certainty. Therefore, let’s not dwell on that part of things. Instead, let’s focus on the latter half of this transaction news.
Luis Sardiñas, who will turn just 22 years old on Saturday, is a switch-hitting infielder who hails from Venezuela. He is the same switch-hitting Venezuelan infielder acquired from the Texas Rangers over the off-season in the Yovani Gallardo trade.
So far this season, Sardiñas has slashed .288/.324/.386 for Triple-A Colorado Springs. That includes seven doubles and three triples but no home runs. He’s struck out just 19 times in 141 plate appearances, but also walked but seven.
Defensively capable at shortstop, third, and second, Sardiñas is a true shortstop first and foremost. That’s been reflected in his defensive log with the Sky Sox inasmuch as he’s played in 31 games at shortstop with just one appearance at the keystone and zero at the hot corner.
Sardiñas made his Major League debut in 2014 for the Rangers, appearing out of necessity after that team suffered an ridiculous amount of injuries at the big league level. That’s how he gets his next opportunity as well, though his time was certainly coming at some point regardless of why.
It wouldn’t shock me if Sardiñas is given the opportunity to start some over the next two weeks. As mentioned, he’s a switch-hitter which gives Craig Counsell another player for whom he needn’t worry about late-game matchups.
All that said, let’s look at one more potentially impacted part of the Brewers organization by way of this promotion. The Sky Sox don’t exactly have another true shortstop on their roster. Donnie Murphy and Pete Orr could fill in (and maybe Chris Nelson too, though I don’t know if he’s played short and I don’t have time to check right now), but this seems like the right time to promote from within.
The Brewers are currently carrying two true shortstops at Double-A Biloxi in the persons of Yadiel Rivera and top prospect Orlando Arcia. They carry surprisingly similar stat lines to this point, for what it’s worth. Also, when a spot opened at Double-A last year, Rivera was promoted first. Granted he’s older (having turned just 23 in his own right on May 2nd) and has been a professional longer (by a year) than Arcia, but that doesn’t always amount to a hill of beans in the grand scheme.
Doug Melvin should use this opportunity to see what he’s got in one of these Double-A shortstops. I’d guess they’d opt to move Rivera first.
Either way, there exists a chance to make the most of this unfortunate situation. Sardiñas gets his call back to The Show and someone should, in my humble opinion, be given the chance to ply their trade just one step away from Milwaukee.
Monday night I sent out this tweet.
Favorite thing tonight? K-Rod, Broxton, Smith, and Jeffress huddling after the game, presumably discussing their outings tonight.
— The Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation) May 12, 2015
It wasn’t the first time I saw Francisco Rodriguez more or less holding court. The other three high-leverage pitchers were huddled by the veteran closer’s locker (to be fair, the lockers of Will Smith and Jonathan Broxton aren’t exactly far away from that of Rodriguez, and Jeremy Jeffress need only come down a handful himself) and were locked in a pointed discussion. That is to say that this looked to be more than your light-hearted postgame celebratory chat.
Tuesday, I decided to confirm my presumption and get a bit more insight from some of the men involved and find out what kind of leader the bullpen has in K-Rod and what kind of advice can be gleaned from the veterans who have combined to pitch in parts of 26 MLB seasons.
I first asked lefty Will Smith, the possessor of the Slider of Death, why it’s valuable to have those guys around him. For the record, Smith’s locker is between Broxton’s and K-Rod’s.
“In my case, I ask (Rodriguez & Broxton) because obviously they’ve had a lot of success. They know what they’re doing. So, my thought process: Why not use them as a learning tool?”, said Smith. “We’ll sit and we’ll break down ABs and what you threw to (a certain hitter).”
But what about the fact that they’re right-handed and he’s a southpaw? Does that matter in breaking down hitters? Smith offered that it doesn’t.
“Just because these guys are right-handed doesn’t mean anything. They still help out a tremendous amount with me and (Jeffress) the most, for sure.”
For his part, Jeffress echoed much of Smith’s sentiment when I asked him what exactly they talk about in those mini-meetings.
“We just break down each one of our outings. What we can learn from it. What we can do better. Just how we attack each and every hitter each day.”, Jeffress said. “Then it’s all about coming together as one because we’re all in this together. And at the end of the day we gotta go home and face what we’ve just been through.”
Jeffress then went bigger picture on me by saying that, “We (Smith and Jeffress) pick their brains so much because we know that this game doesn’t last forever for everyone. The next guy is right there so we just wanna take what they learned and what they taught us and just put it in play for the next couple years.”
I brought it back with a question about huddling early in a series because while you may not face the same guy you did last night, you might face who your teammate did. Jeffress responded about Broxton as his fellow power righty. “(Broxton) will tell me that ‘I didn’t pitch him this way, (or) the best way to go about him is that way.’ Just execute your pitches.”
Broxton told me that their huddles are a multi-directional conversation. It’s not just Smith and Jeffress asking for advice. “We just like to sit down and talk and try to pick each others brains. I may try to pick Will’s or K-Rod’s, or K-Rod wants to know what was our thought process out there. We just try to go over it,” Broxton said. “You’re out there trying to read batters and swings and trying to see what each other’s doing and their thought process too.”
As for his having a fellow veteran like Rodriguez in the clubhouse to bounce his own questions off of, Broxton said “That’s what makes (K-Rod) so great. You can sit down and talk to him about anything. Basically just asking him what is he seeing and get his thought process and (then) put yours together and you can come up with a game plan.”
Game plans are all well and good, but when it comes down to it, each guy still has to go out there and execute. Jeffress said that the veterans show faith in the less-experienced to perform every time it’s their name that’s called.
“They give me a lot of trust,” said Jeffress. “They give everyone in the bullpen a lot of confidence, a lot of trust to believe in their self to go and do the job.”
Again, this “think tank” approach is not new to a clubhouse featuring Francisco Rodriguez, nor is it closed to just the four men who got together yesterday. I’ve seen him talking to Brandon Kintzler after games last year, in particular there was a game where Kintzler struggled pretty badly and it looked to me as though Rodriguez called him over to discuss the outing. K-Rod was talking to him about pitch execution and how pitching Kintzler’s game to the best of his ability would be good enough to get the job done.
Suffice it to say, it has piqued my curiosity a few times over the past couple of seasons. After a particularly rough outing for Broxton it felt right that he would be leveraging the experience of Rodriguez, if for no other reason that K-Rod had a much smoother outing the same night.
So finally, I went to the man himself to understand where this activity came from. I had more presumptions. K-Rod confirmed them.
“That’s something that I just learned coming up. I got the opportunity to have one of the best in the game teach me (in) Troy Percival,” Rodriguez said about his mentor with the Angels. “He told me when I was coming up, when he was teaching me everything, to make sure when I get to this stage and I’m a vet to make sure to teach the young guys how to prepare themselves and how to attack and how to compete out there every night. That’s something I do every single day with the young guys. It’s something I like.”
Rodriguez went on to say that he makes sure he talks to anyone in the bullpen after a game in which they pitched. If it’s a good outing, they talk about it. And if it’s a not so good outing? That’s right — they talk about those too.
Pitchers succeed in baseball more often than they fail. After all, even the best hitters are put out more than 65% of the time. But this approach that I suspect happens in far more places than Milwaukee is no doubt a key to those successes and to overcoming any failures.
Preparedness is half the battle in baseball. For a clubhouse with Francisco Rodriguez in it, that preparation is an ongoing, recurring, everyday thing.
(This article originally appeared on Today’s Knuckleball and was republished here with permission.)
The Brewers announced Tuesday morning that Scooter Gennett has been placed on the 15-day Disabled List (retroactive to Monday, April 20) due to the left hand laceration he suffered during a post-game shower in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
2B Scooter Gennetthas been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left hand laceration, retroactive to 4/20.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) April 21, 2015
Taking his place on the active roster will be Elian Herrera. Herrera’s contract was purchased from the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox which gets him back on the 40-man roster. Herrera has been scorching hot for the Sky Sox after an impressive spring training…
— Mike Vassallo(@MikeVassallo13) April 21, 2015
To clear a spot on the 40-man, RHP Brandon Kintzler was designated for assignment. Kintzler was just activated off of Colorado Springs’ disabled list Tuesday morning after a reported fingernail avulsion.
RHP Brandon Kintzler has been reinstated from the DL in Colorado Springs.
— Brewers Player Dev (@BrewersPD) April 21, 2015
Jonathan Lucroy left Monday night’s game early a half-inning after taking a foul ball squarely off the toes of his left foot while catching. He finished the inning and flew out in his next at-bat but then was lifted in favor of Martin Maldonado. Lucroy limped out of the batter’s box and down the first base line on the play.
Following Monday’s game, the Brewers tweeted the following worst-case scenario news.
Catcher Jonathan Lucroywill be placed on the 15-day disabled list tomorrow with a fractured left toe. Catcher Juan Centenoto be recalled.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) April 21, 2015
In the off-season, the Brewers claimed Juan Centeno off waivers from the New York Mets. Centeno is on the 40-man roster and will join the team in Milwaukee tomorrow.
Entering play Monday, Centeno was hitting a mere .192 in 27 plate appearances across seven games for the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox.
Centeno, 25, made his MLB debut back in 2013 for the Mets and has a career batting average of .225 in 14 games.
In total, seven players were moved out of big league camp today leaving just 27 players. Two more moves will be made before the deadline to accomplish such things. One is almost assuredly Jim Henderson who will either open on the disabled list or end up optioned to the minors as he continues to come back from shoulder surgery. The other move will be either the return of non-roster invitee Elian Herrera to the minor league side or the optioning of Logan Schafer.
Doug Melvin told the media recently that he expected to finalize the 25-man roster with players already in camp. That speaks to no trades currently percolating. If that’s the case, the roster appears basically set with just the formal decision to be made on Herrera.
If things shake out as they currently appear, *UPDATE* This is how the roster breaks down:
Starting Pitchers (5): Lohse, Garza, Peralta, Fiers, Nelson
Relief Pitchers (7): Rodriguez, Broxton, Smith, Jeffress, Cotts, Thornburg, Blazek
Catchers (2): Lucroy, Maldonado
Infielders (6): Lind, Gennett, Segura, Ramirez, H. Gomez, Jimenez
Outfielders (5): Davis, C. Gomez, Braun, Parra, Schafer
Ron Roenicke’s lineup today carried the flavor of one we could see on Opening Day as well (with the obvious exception of the choice for pitcher). Here’s what it’ll probably look like.
- Carlos Gomez – CF
- Jonathan Lucroy – C
- Ryan Braun – RF
- Aramis Ramirez – 3B
- Adam Lind – 1B
- Khris Davis – LF
- Scooter Gennett – 2B
- Jean Segura – SS
- Pitcher McThrowballs – P
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com broke the news via Twitter, so you know it’s good.
Francisco Rodriguez has agreed to a two-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers with a team option for a third year. (Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that Scott Boras agreed to a deal with Mark Attanasio, but that’s an argument for a different time.)
K-Rod has agreement with brewers 2-yr deal
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) February 26, 2015
k-rod will also have a team option for 3rd year on #brewers deal. $ not known.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) February 26, 2015
Rodriguez closed games for the Brewers last year, stepping in (after stepping on a cactus) for the injured Jim Henderson. He posted 44 saves and pitched mostly effectively, but he was hammered by the long ball at a frightening clip. He was a streaky performer, with his struggles coming in bunches for the most part (confirmation bias alert!), but still can be an effective pitcher. He needs to maintain his fastball command more consistently though to aid him in avoiding posting another career-worst home runs allowed total. For the record, it was 14 last year in just 68.0 innings pitched. That’s a 1.9 HR/9, math majors.
The ISO against his fastball in 2014 was .301. That’s terrifying. Still, Rodriguez did post a career best WHIP at 0.985 and struck out more than a batter an inning en route to a 3.04 ERA across 69 games.
But for this multi-year marriage to work out, the home run ball needs to exit from Rodriguez’s repertoire.
Tom Haudricourt tweeted full contract details.
When K-Rod deal with #Brewers is complete, he will get $3.5 M in ’15, $5.5 M in ’16 with $4 M deferred. Club option in ’17 for $6 M.
— Tom (@Haudricourt) February 27, 2015
According to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, free agent relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez won’t be a free agent much longer.
Spencer tweeted out the following blurb Thursday morning.
K-Rod not coming to #marlins. Has agreed to go elsewhere.
— clarkspencer (@clarkspencer) February 26, 2015
With the word that Rodriguez isn’t headed to Miami, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports checked in on whether the Blue Jays were the team who had successfully wooed the man they call K-Rod.
it is not jays for krod. for closer, still plan to go with cecil ot other in-house and save $ remaining.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) February 26, 2015
So combine those reports with what FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal revealed the other day…
Sources: #Brewers owner Mark Attanasio talking with K-Rod’s agent, Scott Boras, about signing the free-agent reliever.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 23, 2015
…and it certainly seems as though the Brewers could be reconciling with their most recent closer.
When the Milwaukee Brewers entered the 2013 season with Kyle Lohse on the team, it came with a sacrifice. That sacrifice was their first-round draft pick and with it the potential to pluck a talented player who scouts and talent evaluators agree is in the upper tier of what is available. Or at least, that’s what they assumed.
Fortunately for the Brewers, a player with a first-round grade in their opinion (as well as the opinion of some respected voices in the prospect game), inexplicably fell to them in the second round. Harvey Kuenn, Jr, who works that area of the country for the Brewers, identified this player as someone who he felt was worth even that lost first-round pick. The Brewers graded him highly enough that they didn’t think he’d get to them but when their turn was coming and it was getting closer, you could almost feel the anticipation in the room.
Don’t misunderstand. I wasn’t there. But 2013 was when the Brewers allowed FoxSports Wisconsin (their TV affiliate) to enter the draft room and prepare a 30-minute show to give fans a taste of what it was like. As that drama unfolded, it made for compelling TV. It was fun to watch the decision makers get their guy.
So who is he? Well, the information on the internet can tell us that he’s a 6’3″ right-handed pitcher out of Hazelwood West High School in Hazelwood, Missouri. He’s 20 years old and was listed at 165 pounds. I could give you stats and tell you how he performed on the field in his one and a half professional seasons.
But who is he? I wanted to find out more so Devin and I, with an assist from his agency the Beverly Hills Sports Council (@BHSCouncil), traded emails. Below are my questions and his responses.
BrewerNation: What or who first got you into playing baseball?
My grandpa was the first person to introduce me to the game. We were always in the backyard playing catch or at the batting cages. He definitely played a big part in my love for the game. I owe him a lot.
BN: When did you first realize that baseball could be a career for you?
DW: Probably the summer after my sophomore year of high school. I started focusing on strictly pitching & I started to get some attention from pro scouts after all of the showcases and tournaments I had done over the summer.
BN: Leading up to draft day, what were your expectations both in terms of when you might go in the draft and who had shown interest in drafting you?
DW: I was expecting to be picked in the first two rounds based on what I had heard. I had in-home meetings with all but four MLB teams so I knew there was some high interest. I actually wasn’t expecting to be picked by the Brewers since I hadn’t really heard much from them throughout the whole process.
BN: What was it like when your phone rang with the news that you had been drafted? Who did you speak to and what was the conversation like?
DW: It was the best feeling in the world up to that point in my life. I just felt like all those bullpens and training sessions had finally paid off. I was with my whole family and some of my close friends when I got the call telling me that the Brewers were going to take me, but I didn’t let any of them know because I didn’t want to jinx it. When it came up on TV that the Brewers had picked me they all started screaming and ran over to hug me. My mom hugged me and was crying when she told me how proud she was. I’ll never forget that moment.
BN: Any initial thoughts on it being the Brewers as a lifelong Cardinals fan?
DW: I get this question a lot. I didn’t even think twice about it. I was just happy to get a chance to play professionally, no matter who it was. The fact that the Cardinals had two chances to pick me & passed on me both times is just a little more motivation for me to beat them when I get my opportunity, maybe steal a couple division titles from them.
BN: What went into making the decision to sign after being drafted instead of attending college?
DW: I knew that day that I was going to sign, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity that was in front of me. I was really close with coach Kerrick Jackson at Mizzou and still am to this day, when he called me the next day he just congratulated me and wished me luck in my first season. He also made sure to let me know that it was only the beginning of the road & to not stop improving on my game.
BN: With a full professional season under your belt, what have you improved on in your game and as a person?
DW: I think the biggest improvements have come with the command of my pitches, I can spot up a lot better now compared to when I first signed. As a person, I would say my mental game has taken a big step, not focusing on the things that are out of my control & staying focused on what I need to do to get the next batter out.
BN: Do you still think going pro was the right choice?
DW: Definitely, I have no regrets. I got to start my career a few years earlier than most and I think that will help me in the long haul.
BN: What have you been focusing on this off-season?
DW: I’ve mostly been working on the overall strength of my body, trying to gain some weight. Also, trying to strengthen my shoulder to be ready for my first year with a full season team.
BN: What are your professional goals, if any specific, for 2015?
DW: My first goal is to make our Low-A team out of spring training. After that my hope is to pitch well enough to make the All-Star game for the Midwest League. That’d be pretty cool. Most importantly I want to finish this season healthy.
BN: Give us a baseball scouting report on Devin Williams. What pitches do you throw? Velo? What’s your best? What are you still developing?
DW: I throw a four-seam fastball, circle changeup, and a slider. On a good day my fastball will sit in the low 90’s possibly touching some mid 90’s. Your fastball is always suppose to be your best pitch but my favorite is the changeup. That’s definitely my best weapon. I’ve been working on a curve a little bit this off-season just to add a little something extra to my repertoire.
BN: Give a personal scouting report on Devin Williams. What makes you tick? What are your off-the-field interests?
DW: I just like to relax and hang out with friends & family, and play some video games (FIFA to be specific).
BN: What is a typical day like as a minor leaguer when it’s not your day to pitch?
DW: Lots of working out & conditioning, along with throwing your side pen in between starts, & doing the game charts before you pitch. Other than that there’s a lot of sitting around and watching the game, which can be helpful if you pay attention because you get to study the hitters and their tendencies before you face them. That’s a big thing for me because at the lower levels of the minor leagues you don’t really get much of a scouting report on the hitters.
It certainly sounds like Devin Williams is poised to take the next step in his career development which would be a great thing for the Brewers. I’m personally looking forward to heading up to Appleton this year to catch one of his starts in person.
Hopefully you got to know a little more about one of the Brewers’ consensus top prospects. I know I did.
Thank you again, Devin, for taking time out of your schedule to answer my questions.
Be sure you follow Devin on Twitter as well: @DTrainn_23
(Forgive the relative tardiness of this, but I was busy at Truck Day and finally am at a keyboard.)
The Brewers sent out the following tweet this morning, which worried fans.
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy is expected to miss 4-6 weeks of Spring Training with a mild strain of his right hamstring. (continued)
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) February 11, 2015
The injury — a partial tear of his right hamstring tendon near the top of the muscle — flared up when Lucroy began running drills about two weeks ago. Apparently the area bothered Lucroy as early as August of last year, but the Brewer backstop played through the discomfort. The strain is classified as “mild” and both the Brewers medical staff and Lucroy himself feel that the All-Star will be just fine for Opening Day on April 6.
Jonathan Lucroy’s right hamstring first bothered him last August. Flared up two weeks ago when he ramped up his running. — Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) February 11, 2015
Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger met with the media during “Truck Day” at Miller Park and said that 4-6 weeks is a range and that there’s a good chance that someone as dedicated and diligent as Lucroy could come in on the short side of the same. Schlesinger said that the club won’t rush one of it’s most important players back before he’s healthy. He also chuckled and said that the biggest thing might be slowing Lucroy down so that the catcher doesn’t go too hard too quickly and suffer a setback.
It was revealed to the media that, to aid in his recovery, Lucroy received a PRP injection as well.
Jonathan Lucroy had a PRP injection yesterday to speed the healing of his right hamstring injury. #Brewers
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) February 11, 2015
The silver lining, according to Gord Ash who met with the media about Lucroy’s injury earlier on Wednesday, is that he won’t be completely shut down from Spring Training activities. He can still field, throw, catch, and do anything that won’t stress the injured tendon. Running is out for the time being and I can’t imagine squatting behind home plate at all is a good thing for him at this point.
From an overall team preparation standpoint, Lucroy missing this time behind the dish won’t be too large of a negative. He’s worked with all the starting pitchers in the past and unless the team does acquire Jonathan Papelbon from the Philadelphia Phillies, there are only a handful of new relief pitchers (Cotts, Knebel, Pérez) to get to know. That can be done with side work or even late in camp as there’s more work to go around for the big league guys.
As for Lucroy’s scheduled defensive work at first base, it sounds like he might be slowed, but he won’t be stopped. If he is to get some starts over there against left-handed pitching, he’ll want to get better quickly. Colorado, the Brewers season-opening opponent, could potentially start southpaws in two of the three games of the opening series at Miller Park.