Howard's deal brings implications for Prince

MILWAUKEE -- Another of Prince Fielder's peers was rewarded Monday with a big payday, but Brewers manager Ken Macha said he's seen no signs of Fielder's business off the field affecting his play on it.

"In the dugout, Prince has been pretty upbeat," Macha said.

Fielder's own slow start aside, he had another reason to be upbeat on Monday when the Phillies and slugger Ryan Howard agreed to a five-year contract extension that guarantees Howard $125 million through 2016.

With that, you can cross Howard off the list of top-flight first basemen on track to reach free agency after the 2011 season -- Fielder, the Cardinals' Albert Pujols and the Padres' Adrian Gonzalez are still on that list -- and you can also cross the Phillies off the list of potential big-market suitors for said first basemen. 

At the same time, representatives for the remaining free-agents-to-be will almost certainly use Howard's deal as a starting point for their own clients, who are either younger (in the cases of Fielder, 25, and Gonzalez, 27) or more accomplished (Pujols is a former National League Rookie of the Year and a three-time NL MVP) than the 30-year-old Howard.

USA Today reported late Monday that "there are no ongoing negotiations with Pujols, Gonzalez or Fielder." Asked whether he agreed with that characterization as it relates to Fielder, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin stood by his policy of not making public comments about what club officials have referred to as their "discussion" with agent Scott Boras.

Howard is due $19 million this season and $20 million in 2011 under his previous contract, and the new deal will pay $20 million in both 2012 and '13 and $25 million from 2014-16 -- with a $23 million club option for 2017 with a $10 million buyout.

Boras pointed out to USA Today that Howard's extension starts at age 32, when the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez signed his record contract.

"There's a small list of sluggers in this game who can hit 40 homers and drive in 130 annually," Boras told the newspaper. "Now, there's one less available."

Fielder has asked reporters to refrain from asking any more questions about his contract, and Melvin has been adamant about keeping his conversations with Boras a secret.

Fielder is earning $10.5 million in the final season of a two-year contract that bought out his first two arbitration years. He will be arbitration-eligible one more time, following this season, before reaching free agency during the winter of 2011-12.

"From my standpoint, he's been the same," Macha said when asked whether Fielder's looming contract situation is having an effect on him. "To ease somebody's tension or pressure or whatever, he's going to be a very wealthy person. It's just a matter of degree. So the best thing to do is, in popular terms, chill."

Fielder is off to a relatively slow start this season, but he had three hits, including an RBI single, in Monday's 17-3 rout of the Pirates. That raised his average to .268 and upped his total to eight RBIs.

Boy injured in stands by shattered bat

MILWAUKEE -- One day after a fan suffered injuries in a fall from the stands during batting practice, a young fan was struck in the head by a broken bat at Miller Park during the Brewers' 17-3 win over the Pirates on Monday. The boy did not appear seriously injured, according to The Associated Press, but he was taken for X-rays.

The bat belonged to Brewers shortstop Alcides Escobar, who grounded out to end the fourth inning while most of his bat went sailing over his left shoulder and into the seats. According to the AP, he was met by medical personnel before walking up the stairs under his own power for further treatment.

The scare came a day after a male Cubs fan fell about 14 feet from a section of seats over the left-field warning track during batting practice. That fan was taken to Froedtert Hospital for treatment, and the Brewers said that federal privacy laws prevented them from releasing any further details.

Capuano's journey starts over at Class A

MILWAUKEE -- Former All-Star left-hander Chris Capuano has been added to the roster at Class A Brevard County, and he will attempt to take another big step forward on Tuesday night, when he's scheduled to make his season debut in a start for the Manatees against Clearwater. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin will be in attendance.

Capuano is attempting to make it back to the Major Leagues following a second Tommy John elbow reconstructive surgery. He has not pitched in the Majors since 2007, but did pitch in six Minor League games at the end of last season and was an early bright spot in big league camp this spring before a setback forced him to start from scratch. Capuano will pitch in a tandem at Brevard County with fellow lefty Dan Merklinger. Capuano has a big fan in Brewers manager Ken Macha, who marveled at the pitcher's work to get this far.

"Now, it's a big hurdle to be able to go out there and get the work load that's required to be a starter," Macha said.

Asked whether Capuano might have to eventually switch to relief, Macha said, "I'm not sure about that. I'm just saying that's a big hurdle. I'm sure 'Cappy' would love to just get back and be able to compete in the big leagues."

To make room for Capuano on the Manatees' roster, the Brewers released right-hander Nick Tyson, who was 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in five relief appearances.

Parra's success key to Narveson's promotion

MILWAUKEE -- At first glance, the Brewers' decision to promote Chris Narveson to the starting rotation over fellow left-hander Manny Parra struck some as odd. Narveson has a 7.20 ERA in relief this season, and opponents are batting .386 against him. Parra has yet to allow a run, and opponents were hitting .250 entering Monday's game against the Pirates.

"Let's let him keep doing what he's doing," Macha said of Parra. "He's having success."

Club officials believe there is evidence that Narveson will benefit from the regular schedule that goes with a spot in the starting rotation.

So Parra will remain in relief, even though his stuff, notably a slow curveball, is probably more suited to starting, according to Macha. The Brewers haven't asked Parra to try a tighter, harder breaking ball because he's having success so far -- and because there is still a chance he could be used later this season as a starter.

"If he just keeps doing what he's doing, it's going to work out for him, and for us," Macha said.

Worth noting

Milwaukee author Dennis Pajot was honored Monday by Sporting News and The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) for his book, The Rise of Milwaukee Baseball: The Cream City from Midwestern Outpost to the Major Leagues, 1859-1901, published by McFarland. The Sporting News-SABR Baseball Research Award recognizes outstanding baseball research published in the previous calendar year in areas other than history and biography. Pajot, a lifelong resident of Milwaukee and a retired city police officer, received a $200 prize and will be honored along with other winners at SABR's national convention in Atlanta from Aug. 5-8. ... The outfield has been a minefield for Brewers Minor Leaguers, with Adam Stern (oblique) and Brendan Katin (knee) on the disabled list at Triple-A Nashville, Lorenzo Cain (hamstring) slowed at Double-A Huntsville and Logan Schafer (groin) still in extended spring training with a groin injury. Stern is close to returning to action, and Cain's injury, suffered Sunday, is not considered serious.