MILWAUKEE -- Brewers' "eye in the sky" coach John Shelby had his eye on Justin Verlander's bid for a no-hitter in Detroit Friday night against Pittsburgh.
But Shelby wasn't watching to see if Verlander could become the sixth Major League pitcher to record three or more no-no's in his career. Rather, he was hoping his nephew, 24-year-old third baseman Josh Harrison, might be the guy to break it up.So, when Verlander had yet to give up a hit through seven innings, Shelby headed to the batting cages at Miller Park during the Brewers-Twins game and switched the TVs over to the game at Comerica Park.
And sure enough, after Verlander struck out the first batter he faced in the top of the ninth inning, Harrison stepped to the plate and snuck a single through the middle of the infield for the Pirates' only hit of the game."I screamed so loud our security guard ran in," Shelby said Saturday. "He thought something was wrong." Shelby assured the guard everything was fine, and texted his nephew on Saturday morning to offer his congratulations. Less than a week after a group of family members watched Harrison come away with a game-winning hit against Houston on Mother's Day, Shelby said Friday was another special moment for the family. "Last night, just getting the chance to see that was pretty impressive," Shelby said. "I'm proud of him."
Roenicke wants to see more personality
MILWAUKEE -- Do the Brewers miss Prince Fielder in the clubhouse as much as they do on the field?That was one of the questions manager Ron Roenicke faced on Saturday morning, a few hours after a blowout loss dropped the Brewers seven games under .500 for the first time in two seasons.
The Brewers have yet to win more than three games in a row this season, and Roenicke suggested that their struggles cannot simply be explained by the rash of injuries that felled first baseman Mat Gamel, shortstop Alex Gonzalez and starter Chris Narveson."I think we're just struggling in general," Roenicke said. "We weren't playing that well before we had the injuries. I think we haven't figured out what kind of group this is going to be, and the confidence that you need [is missing]. "Guys are playing hard, they're working hard. It's not that. But as a team, we knew who we were last year. We had a lot of personalities on the team, and I thought we meshed really well. This year, we've got a quiet group. Sometimes when things aren't going real well, you need somebody to loosen it up a little bit." Fielder was one of those guys. So were veterans LaTroy Hawkins, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Mark Kotsay, who entertained his teammates during good times and bad last season by playing golf naked in the clubhouse. All of those players left via free agency. This year's club is different. "Prince is a big personality that has an edge to it," Roenicke said. "He was able to loosen up the clubhouse, but he was also, because of the edge, [able to say], 'Let's go! Enough is enough.' That was good. I think with everybody else, I thought it really was good." Last year, Roenicke had some chats with outfielder Nyjer Morgan about toning down his alter ego, "Tony Plush." This year, Roenicke would like to see more of Mr. Plush, but Morgan has been focused intensely on overcoming his slow start at the plate. "Once you start playing well, it's not necessary to have that [personality]," Roenicke said. "But when things aren't going well, that's when you really need the personalities to keep things loose and keep things positive. We're trying to do it as a staff, but sometimes players get a little bit tired of hearing us. We're trying to figure it out."
Gomez set to come off disabled list Sunday
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers optioned infielder Brooks Conrad to Triple-A Nashville and planned to activate outfielder Carlos Gomez from the 15-day disabled list before Sunday's series finale against the Twins.Sunday is the first day Gomez is eligible to return from a strained left hamstring. He was scheduled to play seven innings for Class A Wisconsin on Saturday night, capping a four-game rehabilitation assignment. Conrad had batted .400 at Nashville before his May 4 promotion but was unable to continue that success in the Majors. He was 0-for-21 in a Brewers uniform, including a first-pitch pop-out in the seventh inning of Saturday's extra-inning loss. "It's frustrating, I just didn't have any production or results," Conrad said. "You have to contribute to stay around."
Brewers swap Chulk for Perez in bullpen
MILWAUKEE -- In need of a fresh arm in the bullpen and desiring a more effective one, the Brewers shipped out right-handed reliever Vinnie Chulk on Saturday and brought in Juan Perez, a left-hander who impressed in Spring Training before he was beset by injuries.Perez's bid for an Opening Day roster spot was derailed when he suffered a partially collapsed left lung on March 11. Later, he missed the start of Triple-A Nashville's season with a stiff back. But Perez has since pitched well, charged with only one earned run in 10 2/3 innings at Triple-A, with 15 strikeouts. Perez throws a power fastball and slider, and is "a true left-hander to get out lefties," manager Ron Roenicke said.
"Manny [Parra] has been doing a good job getting out the left-handers, but he can go through righties, he can be a long man. [Perez] gives us a guy maybe more specific to what we need. We've come across a lot of left-handed lineups, and we're getting stuck in that middle relief part where we're having to put in some right-handers against some lefties. We'd rather not do that."Chulk was designated for assignment after allowing 10 runs and 17 hits in nine innings of relief. He had pitched three straight days and would have been unavailable on Saturday. Chulk has the right to refuse an outright assignment to Nashville. Assistant general manager Gord Ash urged Chulk to accept. "As I reminded him, he came out of nowhere and made an impression," Ash said. "He has to take solace in that, and it can happen again. The way we're going, 30 days from now, we could use him again."
Shortstop Alex Gonzalez, fresh off surgery for a torn ACL in his right knee, said he would return home to Miami as soon as he's physically able. Remaining with the team would be too painful."I'm supposed to be playing," said Gonzalez, who is out for the season. Brewers head physician William Raasch will perform another ACL repair on Tuesday, when first baseman Mat Gamel is scheduled for surgery. Brewers hitters bemoaned another 3 p.m. CT start on Saturday, scheduled because FS Wisconsin had to get it in ahead of FOX's national blackout. The mid-afternoon starts are particularly brutal for hitters because of the shadows and glare at Miller Park. Roenicke rested veteran shortstop Cesar Izturis on Saturday and said he has a very close eye on the 32-year-old's playing time. Izturis replaced the injured Gonzalez as the Brewers' everyday shortstop. "We can't have this guy go down. Our depth is not there," Roenicke said. "I want to try to take care of him. I have conversations with him and he tells me he feels great, so it's not a case of him saying, 'I need a day off.'"
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.