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The News You May Have Missed From Brewers Spring Training Over the Weekend

We got a boatload of information in tweet form and in longer-form pieces from the Brewers beat writers fortunate enough to already be down at Spring Training covering the Brewers as camp opened up over the weekend.

Here’s a compilation of what you might have missed if you weren’t paying attention.

FRIDAY

P&C weekend began with Brewers.com’s Adam McCalvy reminding us just how beautiful green baseball fields are.

Then the information started coming. We learned that Tyler Thornburg, less than a week removed from being labeled as hopefully a “viable candidate” for the bullpen by Asst. GM Gord Ash, was expecting to open camp with no restrictions.

From there, McCalvy talked to Jonathan Lucroy about the All-Star’s expected workload this spring.

The Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak also spoke to Lucroy along with Kyle Lohse after the Friday morning announcement about the changes related to the game’s perceived “pace of play” issues.

Tom Haudricourt posted a series of tweets with a quote from the talkative Lohse regarding the team’s collapse. Lohse had said at Brewers On Deck that he would talk to his teammates about it when they got to Maryvale and then move on.

Lohse as transcribed by Haudricourt: “Hopefully we have a group of guys that are pissed off about way things ended.”

Lohse: “We had an excellent 4 ½ months. I’m pissed. You don’t get that many opportunities to get to the playoffs.”

Lohse: “When you have it that close, it should help drive you. Let’s learn from it and not let that happen again.”

The official Twitter account of the Brewers Player Development staff got in on the news making by dropping this tweet on Friday.

But of course, we already knew about half of that the night before. (h/t @Mass_Haas)

SATURDAY

Day Two of camp opened with some news about a potential #7 starter in the person of Michael Blazek.

Speaking of starting pitchers, Rosiak told us that Johnny Hellweg, just 9.5 months removed from Tommy John surgery, is throwing off a mound and should be in games before April.

Rosiak also talked to Ash about Thornburg and Jim Henderson.

Haudricourt checked back in on Twitter with a reminder about the backup corner infielder spot.

As for the back-end of the bullpen? Well, at least for now…

Ron Roenicke spoke with reporters. Todd Rosiak tweeted that the hot corner could have more games started by not Aramis Ramirez than in years past.

SUNDAY

Adam McCalvy worked his beat hard on Saturday, and on Sunday we saw the results of some of his efforts. Included among them was this conversation with Dontrelle Willis, who is aiming to make the Brewers on a minor league deal.

From outside the Brewers beat, FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal checked in with this Sunday evening tidbit.

And this clarification…

Rob Deer Bobblehead Revealed

Courtesy of the Brewers

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2015 Brewers Media Guide Cover Image

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Photo courtesy Mike Vassallo

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #58 Wei-Chung Wang

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Today is Saturday, February 7 and we sit 58 days away from Opening Day on which the Brewers host the Colorado Rockies at Miller Park, April 6.

It’s also late Saturday afternoon as I sit down to write, so let’s get to it.

Wearing #58 for the Brewers during Spring Training will be…

Wei-Chung Wang.

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Wang, just 22, came to the Brewers by way of the Rule 5 Draft in December 2013 at the Winter Meetings. Wang was originally signed as an international free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011, but an injury caused his original contract to be voided. The new contract that the Pirates signed Wang to caused him to be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft much earlier than he normally would have been.

Wang didn’t pitch well at all at the big league level in 2014, but that wasn’t what he was there to do. He was there to mop up some games and just stay on the roster long enough for the Brewers to retain his services in 2015 and going forward. He did those things somewhat well, and I could give you his numbers at the big league level, but that belies his situation. In no way was he ready to pitch to big league hitters. The Pirates knew it. The Brewers knew it. And if Wang didn’t know it, he figured it out pretty quickly.

The problems surrounding the Wang situation were two-fold in my opinion. First, Wang wasn’t pitching like he would have been had he played a full season at a level of competition commensurate with his stage of development. He missed a lot of innings in 2014, ones that he’ll begin making up in earnest during big league camp this year. Make no mistake, Wang is expected to contribute as a member of the Major League rotation down the road. That’s why he was drafted, kept, and eventually stashed.

More on his 2015 outlook at the end of this piece. First, let’s remind ourselves of the other problem with Wang, this one indirectly attributed to him.

Much of the time when Wang was in the bullpen, Ron Roenicke only had six arms he trusted out there. Coupled with the team’s incredible start through the end of April, that meant a ton of early innings for those trusted arms. We saw down the stretch that Will Smith tired out mid-summer before turning it back around and Tyler Thornburg ended up with a season-ending injury to his elbow. Could some of that use and possibly related injury have been avoided with a seventh reliever to eat up some of that work? We’ll never know for sure, but overuse is often blamed when relief pitchers break down physically. There’s no questioning how many innings were split only six ways in April, but again, some of that is because you use your best bullpen guys in games that you’re winning and the Brewers won a lot that month.

As for 2015? Well, Wang will start games as he did while on a minor league rehab assignment last year. He’s could potentially break camp with the Class-AA Biloxi Shuckers, though he might begin with the Class-A Advanced Brevard County Manatees. It will probably depend on whether there’s room at Biloxi once the rest of the assignments are figured out.

If Wang was ready to contribute to the big league rotation by 2017 — he’d still be just 24 when the 2017 season begins — that would be a quality situation for the Brewers scouting and development team who identified Wang as a target and convinced General Manager Doug Melvin to pull the trigger on him.

Don’t expect to see Wang in a big league box score in 2015, or even a Triple-A one. The world he got to experience for a few months of Major League Baseball will benefit him, but he’s still got a ways to go.

Hopefully he gets back sooner than later so that we can once again experience the excellence that was Wei-Chung Wang Wednesdays.

You can follow Wei-Chung Wang on Twitter: @LeftyWang51

Catch up on the countdown!

2015 Brewers Non-Roster Invitees to Big League Spring Training

This is a list I’m parking here, basically for my own reference, because the Brewers.com website isn’t updated yet.

Here is list, broken down by position, of the announced non-roster invitees that will be initially assigned to the big league side at Spring Training 2015. I’ll update the list as players are added and do my best to remember to do the same when they are reassigned.

Pitchers (6)

  • Tyler Cravy
  • Hobbs Johnson (L)
  • Brent Leach (L)
  • Ariel Peña
  • Taylor Williams
  • Dontrelle Willis (L)

Catchers (4)

  • Nevin Ashley
  • Parker Berberet
  • Cameron Garfield
  • Adam Weisenburger

Infielders (1)

  • Pete Orr

Outfielders (2)

  • Matt Long
  • Bryan Petersen

TOTAL: 13

Press Release: Jeff Levering Joins Brewers in Play-By-Play, New Media Role

Will Broadcast Select Games and Provide Content for Brewers.com and Social Channels

MILWAUKEE, WI – The Milwaukee Brewers today announced that Jeff Levering will join the organization as the newest member of the Brewers radio broadcast team.  Levering will serve as a play-by-play broadcaster on select road games on 620 WTMJ and the Brewers Radio Network, as well as provide content for the Brewers online, social and new media channels.

wpid-jeff_levering.jpgIn his new role, Levering will handle three innings of play-by-play as he fills in on games missed by Brewers Hall of Fame broadcaster, Bob Uecker. For days when he is not on the air, Levering will provide video, photo, audio and written content for Brewers.com and various other Brewers social media platforms.

Levering’s first official day with the Brewers will be this Sunday as he will be welcomed on the Main Stage at Brewers On Deck (10 am-5 pm at the Wisconsin Center).

“Jeff will be a great addition to the organization, and this is an opportunity for him to contribute both in the radio booth and in our new media efforts,” said Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger. “By creating this role, we have a consistent voice filling in when Bob elects to stay home on occasional road trips, and we add resources to our expanding social media outreach. We welcome Jeff to the organization and look forward to introducing him to Brewers fans at Brewers On Deck.”

Levering spent the past two seasons as the lead play-by-play broadcaster of the reigning International League champion Pawtucket Red Sox.  In addition to his game-day broadcasting duties, he hosted the pre- and post-game shows, “PawSox” Insider, a weekly, one-hour radio magazine show; provided video content for the team website and wrote a blog, “45 Miles from Fenway,” which ranked in the Top-15 nationally among Minor League writers.

“I am thrilled beyond words to be joining the Milwaukee Brewers broadcast team as well as their talented front office,” Levering said. “Being part of a radio booth that features the legendary Bob Uecker and Joe Block is a tremendous honor, and a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. Calling games in the Major Leagues has been a dream of mine since I was a kid and to have a chance to realize it is truly amazing. I can’t thank the Brewers enough for their faith in me and allowing me the opportunity to work in such a terrific organization. My family is excited to immerse ourselves in Milwaukee and be diehard Brewers fans.”

Levering received his degree in broadcast journalism from Chapman University in Orange, California where he also played baseball all four years and was the starting designated hitter on the 2003 D-III National Championship baseball team in Appleton, WI.  He and his wife, Ashley, have a son, Brock, who was born in October of 2014.

“We’re excited to integrate Jeff into the Brewers radio broadcast with Bob and Joe,” said Carl Moll, Director of Network Operations for Journal Broadcast Group. “His work in the minor leagues has been impressive and he’s ready to move to the Major League level.”

Hank the #BallparkPup Named “Dog of the Year” in The CW Network’s World Dog Awards

Brewer Nation:

Hank rates.

Originally posted on Cait Covers the Bases:

Our lovable dog, “Hank, the Ballpark Pup,” has been named “Dog of the Year” at the CW Network’s World Dog Awards! Hosted by George Lopez, the event aired on the CW Network tonight.

The Dog of the Year, Hank the Ballpark Pup, poses with World Dog Awards Host, George Lopez. The Dog of the Year, Hank the Ballpark Pup, poses with World Dog Awards Host, George Lopez.

 

The awards show put the spotlight on man’s best friend and highlighted special achievements by Hank and other canines alike.

 

The “Golden Hydrant” was presented to Hank by Paris Hilton on stage at the Barker Hanger, the site of the event in Los Angeles. 

The Dog of the Year, Hank the Ballpark Pup, poses with Paris Hilton, Terrell Owens and his adoptive family. The Dog of the Year, Hank the Ballpark Pup, poses with Paris Hilton, Terrell Owens and his adoptive family.

Hank traveled to Los Angeles via Southwest Airlines with a Brewers contingent to accept the award “in person.” Prior to the event, Hank walked the green carpet where he was greeted by members of the Hollywood and national media.

The “Dog…

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Don’t Call It a Comeback

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My annual countdown to Opening Day will return for another season!

There has been some decent 40-man roster turnover since Spring Training. I mark the passage of time from (roughly) the turn of the calendar until Brewers Opening Day by previewing players who wear a certain uniform number on the corresponding day.

We’re 98 days away from Opening Day, so we won’t get underway on this thing quite yet, but once the countdown coincides with a jersey, you’ll see the first column go up.

I call the series “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” and it works a little something like this:

  • Opening Day is April 6, 2015.
  • March 29th is eight days before April 6th.
  • Ryan Braun wears number 8 on his jersey.
  • I’ll write an article reviewing Ryan Braun’s 2014 and looking ahead to his 2015 and post it on March 29, 2015.

Make sense? Here’s another example:

  • Jonathan Broxton wears number 51.
  • 51 days before April 6th is February 14th.
  • I’ll post my Broxton column on February 14th.

I do a column on every player who is on the Brewers 40-man roster along with most Spring Training non-roster invitees. I’ll update this space with a full schedule once the uniform numbers for the newest 40-man additions are announced. I’ll update it again as non-roster invitees are revealed.

Thanks for reading and sticking with me this winter. BBtJN is a very popular series and I thank you for that. Stay tuned!

BREWERS ANNOUNCE NEW FAN EXPERIENCE HONORING BUD SELIG AT MILLER PARK

Brewer Nation:

Here’s the official look at the just announce “Selig Experience” coming to Miller Park.
Give it a read and maybe a chance.

Originally posted on Cait Covers the Bases:

Today we announced the construction of a new fan experience at Miller Park, a state-of-the-art attraction to honor retiring Commissioner of Baseball and former Brewers OwnerAllan H. (Bud) Selig.

Known as the “Selig Experience,” the exhibit will be located on Miller Park’s Loge Level in the left field corner. A highlight of the attraction will be a multimedia presentation that tells the story of Selig’s role in saving Major League Baseball in Milwaukee, his successful efforts to bring the Brewers to the city, and his tireless efforts to promote and grow the game in his hometown.

Miller Park already is known as a premiere destination for baseball fans, and the Selig Experience will take that to the next level. It will serve as a year-round attraction, adding another extraordinary enhancement to the overall fan experience.

“Commissioner Selig is the one person who ensured that the city of Milwaukee would…

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Source: Brewers Have Talked to Red Sox (Winter Meetings Update)

a.k.a. “So, about that tweet…”

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During the morning on Tuesday, I tweeted out the following:

I promised to expound on it here on the blog because of the nuance involved.

Based on a Nick Cafardo report from prior to the Winter Meetings that said that the Brewers were showing interest in Allen Craig, I reached out to a source who confirmed that the sides had talked about Craig and that Gerardo Parra was a name that came up in those discussions. They were characterized as “preliminary at best” (my wording) but as something that had been discussed.

In addition, it was shared that the Red Sox had inquired about Yovani Gallardo. It wasn’t stated when, but it would make sense if it was in the same pre-Winter Meetings conversation. That would be in line with Doug Melvin’s public comments that as of the end of the day Tuesday, the Brewers contingent hadn’t met with any other team’s representatives in San Diego. Melvin has since admitted to meeting with a team on Wednesday, but wouldn’t say which.

A possible return from the Red Sox was not known (or at least not shared) by my contact. My own deductive thought process believes that the Red Sox probably were and are making many exploratory calls on starting pitchers potentially available in trade as they (correctly, it turns out) expected that they might lose out on Jon Lester in free agency.

The Gallardo option, real or not, it felt to me, was not a top option for the Red Sox… 

…and chatter from the Winter Meetings seems to have supported that idea as the Sawx have been linked to Wade Miley (“talks broke down”) and others today. That’s why I tweeted this on Wednesday morning…

So for now, it’s quiet as kept for the Brewers. Doug Melvin told reporters during his Wednesday evening briefing that he anticipates finding bullpen pieces later in the off-season once prices begin to come down.

And it has also been echoed by Mark Attanasio that the Brewers aren’t really in much of a position for major free agents as they are pushing the limits of their budget.

So, in all the Brewers are beginning to make Winter Meetings contacts but haven’t yet consummated any deals. With Melvin telling reports that he intends to pass in at least the MLB portion of Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft, the Brewers could very well leave San Diego with no transactions on the books.

It definitely helps that Melvin & Co. brought in Adam Lind early this off-season and retained Aramis Ramirez. Even though it doesn’t, the Brewers could field a capable 25-man roster if the season started tomorrow.

Before fretting, keep in mind that there are still plenty of shopping days until P&C.

***UPDATE*** 9:13pm CT ***UPDATE***

I now see this tweet from Jon Heyman, saying the Wade Miley has been acquired by the Red Sox, so I’d guess that the Yovani Gallardo chatter will never result in anything, let alone ever be confirmed as true.

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