PITTSBURGH -- For the first time in more than 24 years, the Brewers are Sports Illustrated cover boys.Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Nyjer Morgan are featured on the cover of the Aug. 29 issue of the magazine with a photo of the trio celebrating Mark Kotsay's game-winning hit on Aug. 16 and the headline, "Living the High Life: How T-Plush and two Wallbanging MVP candidates are mixing a strange brew in Milwaukee." Braun also made the cover of SI's 2008 baseball preview, but he was featured along with five other '05 Draft picks. This week's issue marks the first time the Brewers have owned the cover alone since April 27, 1987, when a shot of Rob Deer advertised a story about Milwaukee's "Team Streak." Robin Yount (twice), Rollie Fingers and manager George Bamberger have also been on the cover of SI. For Morgan, it marked another big moment in a surprising season. "I'm so fired up," he said. "I never thought a guy from the east side of San Jose would be with two of baseball's favorite players on the cover of Sports Illustrated. It's pretty cool being with those two guys on there." Morgan's unlikely story forms the backbone of the story -- his decision to drop out of high school at 16 and move to Canada to fulfill a sudden urge to play hockey, and how he decided to convert to baseball while sitting in the bleachers at Candlestick Park. His alter ego, Tony Plush, makes a cameo, of course. "He uses Plush as a way to release pressure," Morgan's mother, Trina Perry, told the magazine. "When things get too tense, he can go there and keep it fun and light. It helps him relax." General manager Doug Melvin told SI, "He has brought silliness back to baseball." Talk of the SI jinx did not gain much traction in the visitor's clubhouse at PNC Park. Manager Ron Roenicke admitted he's aware of the supposed jinx, but when asked about it, he just shrugged and did not say a word. Fielder said he didn't even know about it. He figures the Brewers are ready for the increased national attention sure to find them in September. "I think we're equipped for it," said Fielder, who added, "I'd rather just play."
Gomez takes another big step forward
PITTSBURGH -- Center fielder Carlos Gomez was excited to take another big step toward the active roster Tuesday, when he took full batting practice and slid into bases for the first time since fracturing his left collarbone on a diving catch July 20 in Arizona.Gomez insisted he is aiming to be back in a Brewers uniform when rosters expand on Sept. 1. That's a surprisingly aggressive timeline, considering he still must undergo an examination by team doctors when the team returns to Miller Park this weekend and would then report to the Minor Leagues for a rehabilitation assignment. "I can't wait to be back on Sept. 1," Gomez said. "That's what I expect right now." He has been feeling good in outfield drills. On Monday, Gomez was working out at PNC Park with outfield coach Ed Sedar and robbed a home run, crashing into the wall after making a leaping catch. He was no worse for the wear. "I'm excited to be doing everything with the team again," Gomez said.
Brewers unlikely to hold Greinke for Cards
PITTSBURGH -- The Brewers briefly considered delaying Zack Greinke's next start so it would fall in next week's National League Central showdown with the Cardinals, but they are now leaning against it.Greinke and left-hander Chris Narveson each started a game in Monday's doubleheader, leaving one lined up to pitch next on Sunday against the Cubs on one extra day of rest, and the other later in the week. The Brewers are off on Monday before facing the second-place Cardinals from Aug. 30-Sept. 1. Manager Ron Roenicke hinted that he has a plan of where to slot Narveson. The left-hander could use the extra time, anyway, since he exited his Monday start after catching the nail on his left middle finger while throwing a fastball. The issue is not expected to affect his next start. Roenicke and pitching coach Rick Kranitz sought input from Greinke, who preferred to remain closer to regular rest. "It's not 100 percent, but [Greinke] doesn't really want to go eight days before pitching," Roenicke said. The Cardinals series is important because they are the only team within 10 games of the Brewers in the NL Central. But Roenicke has been espousing an "every game is important" philosophy as the Brewers seek their first division title since 1982, and he believes teams sometimes spend too much time worrying about matching certain starters to certain series. "I think every time we try to do something -- and not just this year -- every time we put too much into mathcups, they don't work well," Roenicke said. "If you do that, you screw up everybody else."
Assuming no more setbacks for Chris Narveson, manager Ron Roenicke would like to go back to a 12-man pitching staff in the coming days. The staff grew to 13 when infielder Felipe Lopez was designated for assignment on Sunday, clearing the way for Narveson's reinstatement from the disabled list. Officials have mulled both a power bat for the bench or another right-handed hitter.
Brewers officials plan to meet Friday to discuss September callups, and catcher Martin Maldonado is very likely to be one of the players promoted. The Brewers currently have two catchers on the roster, and Roenicke is not shy about using both in games. In an emergency, Casey McGehee would catch. If McGehee is unavailable, Roenicke said Craig Counsell would be the next option.