05/15/2003 1:33 PM ET
Brewers notes: Sexson speaks
Hammonds' return will not happen before weekend
MILWAUKEE -- Despite some tough calls and his team's recent struggles, manager Ned Yost and Brewers players are keeping their cool with the boys in blue.
Case in point: Trailing by two runs in the sixth inning of Wednesday's 6-1 loss to the Cubs -- Milwaukee's fourth straight loss -- home plate umpire Paul Emmel rung up Richie Sexson on a called strike three that Sexson felt was low.
As the Cubs ran off the field, Sexson turned to have words with Emmel, but remained calm throughout a long exchange and was not ejected.
"We were just having a discussion. He said that maybe he thought the pitch was a little down himself," Sexson said. "The whole time, what's going through your mind is, 'Don't get kicked out.'"
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
Sexson said he respects Emmel, and that the ump calmly listened to his argument.
"I don't want us complaining us about every thing that happens. Richie did it the right way," Yost said. "He explained to him, 'Look, the pitch was down. We're battling. It doesn't mean anything to you, but it means something to us. If I walk there, with Geoff Jenkins coming up, we have a chance to tie the game. You took the bat out of my hands.'"
The flip side came in the Brewers' last homestand, when pinch-hitter John Vander Wal was called out on strikes and launched into a tirade against the home plate ump. Vander Wal earned a hefty fine for flinging his bat and helmet, but because his pinch-hit appearance was over, Yost let him blow off some steam.
"Let him have it," Yost said. "He was going to get that anyway, so let him have his five cents."
Sexson said he did not feel like the Brewers were getting any different treatment than any other club on a losing streak.
"I don't think they're showing any favoritism or anything," Sexson said. "That's just the way things are going."
Hammonds ever closer: Still no word on when Jeffrey Hammonds will be back from the disabled list, though Yost said a decision will not come before the weekend.
Hammonds has been running drills while Brewers trainers look on, testing the strength in his right ankle. Hammonds suffered a high ankle sprain leaping at the outfield wall April 14.
"I'm just going with them. They'll let me know," Hammonds said, referring to the trainers. "I can only do what they ask me to do. They asked me to run the bases."
Hammonds confirmed that he is willing to go on a rehabilitation assignment. The Brewers will probably send him to Triple-A Indianapolis, or to warmer-weather Huntsville, Ala. or Phoenix. The team's Double-A affiliate plays in Huntsville, where Hammonds has family, and extended Spring Training is in Phoenix.
The team could also let Hammonds take his hacks in the batting cage and simply activate him.
"I'm open to both," Hammonds said.
Positive ink: No one accuses John Foster of being boring.
Foster, the tattooed, pierced left-handed reliever, was as excited for Thursday night as he was for Thursday's Brewers-Cubs game at noon. After the game, Foster and a camera crew from the local Fox affiliate will head to a tattoo parlor.
"This might take six hours," Foster said.
Foster planned to get a pair of star-like designs on the left side of his chest, plus another design all the way around his left thigh. Foster expected the latter to hurt more, though not as much as the tattoo that wraps around the back of his left armpit.
Big believer: Cubs rookie Hee Sop Choi -- "Big Choi" to Cubs fans -- has made a believer of Yost. Wednesday, Choi doubled twice, scored and drove in a run and made two outstanding defensive plays.
"He's really hurt us," Yost said. "He's a guy that you better not make a mistake on because he can hit it a long way. ... I thought he was OK in Spring Training, but he's better than I thought he was. He's impressive."
Choi, the National League's rookie of the month for April, was hitting .271 with seven home runs and 20 RBIs entering Thursday's game. He and Corey Patterson are tied for the team lead in homers.
Rushford returns: The Brewers on Thursday re-signed Jim Rushford to a minor league free agent contract and assigned him to Triple-A Indianapolis. Rushford was Indy's MVP last season, when he led the club in five offensive categories before earning a callup to the Brewers. He hit .143 in 23 big-league games.
The Chicago native earned an invitation to Texas Rangers camp this spring. He started the season at Triple-A Oklahoma where he hit .190 with no homers and 9 RBIs in 24 games. Rushford led all minor leaguers with a .354 average in 2001 after he signed with the Brewers.
With Hammonds due to come off the DL, the Brewers' outfield picture is muddled. Yost is already juggling John Vander Wal, Scott Podsednik and Brady Clark in backup roles, though Alex Sanchez was benched for the third straight day Thursday.
Last call: The Brewers cleared two spots on the 40-man roster Wednesday, but Yost said a player move is not imminent. In one of the moves, Francisco Campos was outrighted off the roster, opening the possibility that he may return to the Mexican League. "He'd been fighting the whole time to go back to Mexico," said Yost. "He makes so much money in Mexico." ... Right-hander Todd Ritchie threw off flat ground Thursday and came into the clubhouse with a smile on his face. It will be several weeks before Ritchie is ready to come off the DL. ... Eric Young got a day off. Yost customarily gives the 35-year-old a breather for day games after night games, allowing Keith Ginter a chance to start. ... The Brewers television broadcast team on Wednesday debuted their "Sounds of the Game" feature, highlighted by in-game audio from first base coach Dave Nelson. One problem: The Brewers had three singles and two walks, leaving Nelson little to say. "From the first inning on, I had nothing," Nelson said.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.