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7532
MDR Blog 5/20
05-20-2016
09:49 AM ET (US)
Thousands of Cubs’ fans came to Wrigley Field North this week, expecting to see their club dominate a three-game series. Instead, they found out a team called the Brewers, with their own set of fans, occupy the place called Miller Park.

The Brewers’ pitching matched the Cubs pitch-by-pitch and won the series, 2 games to 1. Chase Anderson pitched the best game of his career, taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning on Tuesday. Ben Zobrist broke up the no-no, and Anderson, obviously out of gas, gave up two homers in the 9th. But, the Brewers went away with a 4-2 win.

On Wednesday night, the Brewers led until the Cubs tied the score in the 9th and took the game into extra innings. What decided that contest for the Cubs was grizzled vet manager Joe Maddon schooling the relative rookie Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell.

When the Brewers threatened to score by loading the bases, Maddon went to five infielders, pulling Kris Bryant into the infield. Before the inning was over, Bryant played left, third base, first base and left again. Travis Wood got the Cubs out of the jam by retiring three Brewers on what amounted to pop-ups.

Counsell didn’t come out as well in the strategy wars. He decided to intentionally walk Miguel Montero to ,load the bases because the Cubs were out of position players. Wood had to be used as a pinch-hitter.

The move was somewhat understandable, but it also moved the potential go-ahead run to third base with two outs. This often is considered a cardinal sin because a runner on third can score at least four ways -- steal of home, passed ball, wild pitch or walk.

Carlos Torres, who has been somewhat erratic all season, walked Wood to force in what turned out to be the winning run in a 2-1 Chicago decision. Wasted in that loss was a great starting performance by Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson.

But, on Thursday, journeyman Junior Guerra pitched the game of his career with 11 strikeouts, Tyler Thornburg picked up his first save of the season and the Brewers beat Cubs’ starter Jason Hammel for the first time ever, 5-3.

The Cubs had come into the series with perhaps the best pitching in baseball. John Lackey had the worst ERA of the rotation, just a little over 3.00.

Meanwhile, the Brewers’ starters had the worse ERA in the game. They still do, at 5.43, but in their last 10 games the ERA is 3.05 and the starters have eight quality starts in those 10 games. In the first 31 games of the season, the starters had seven quality starts.

Maddon noted on Thursday how the Brewers pitched and played overall. "They were very close games, and they never gave in to us. We had good at-bats the first two nights. Today, they got us and out-pitched us today. Give them credit. They're playing really well, and they hurt us on defense and they hurt us on the mound."
The series result does not mean the Cubs are collapsing and the Brewers are becoming contenders. One can note that the Brewers were lucky enough to miss Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester in the series.

But, the Brewers did play well, giving their fans and their manager some reason for hope. "I'm just proud of how the guys played today after the tough game last night," said Counsell on Thursday "That was our toughest game of the year, without question. We had a couple guys out of the lineup, but we played a really good game today. It was a satisfying win. Very satisfying."

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a productive game (two hits, two runs scored, two RBIs) Thursday to cap a homestand in which he batted .363. He is hitting .340 (17-for-50) this season at Miller Park and has emerged as the Brewers' regular center fielder by batting .311 in May with seven RBIs.

** Ryan Braun (back) and Domingo Santana (shoulder) continue to be in and out of the lineup.

** Rule 5 second baseman Colin Walsh and out-of-options outfielder Ramon Flores are both struggling immensely for the Brewers, but Counsell tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the team isn’t planning to give up on either player anytime soon.

Cubs

** Dexter Fowler got the Cubs going with a leadoff home run, hitting the second pitch from Guerra over the right-field fence. It was Fowler's fourth homer this season and 15th career leadoff blast. He now has hit safely in 21 of his last 26 games.

** With the series loss to the Brewers, the Cubs have lost five of their last eight games.

** The Cubs hope that veteran RHP Joe Nathan can return to readiness at some point in the middle of 2016. Given his 60-day DL placement, it would appear that mid-July is the earliest possible date for a return to the majors.

Twins

** The Twins had lost four straight and seven of nine going into Friday night.

** The Twins and outfielder Robbie Grossman are in agreement on a minor league pact, per La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter link). Eddie Rosario was sent to the minors by the club.

** Twins skipper Paul Molitor chatted with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports about his club’s struggles, saying that he’s still approaching the job with the same vigor. While he didn’t exactly suggest that there’s a significant hope of a full-blown turnaround this year, Molitor did stress that he’ll continue to “choose to see light still” even amidst the difficulties.

White Sox

** The Sox broke a four-game losing streak Thursday with their 2-1 win over the Astros.

** The White Sox have acquired outfielder Jason Bourgeois from the Diamondbacks, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com was among those to report on Twitter. Cash considerations will go back to Arizona in the swap.

** The White Sox are ready to make a significant upgrade this summer if the opportunity presents itself, writes Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago. Sox GM Rick Hahn appeared on WSCR’s “Inside the Clubhouse” show earlier this week, Levine notes, and expressed an aggressive approach toward improving his roster.

Player of the Week

The Sox’s Chris Sale improved to 9-0 with a complete game 2-1 win over the Astros. He became the first Sox pitcher to start a season that way since Eddie Cicotte. His effort also earned him MDR Player of the Week.

Other MDR Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Kirk Nieuwenhuis for the performance detailed earlier in this blog; the Cubs’ Dexter Fowler; and the Twins’ Juan Centeno, who hit .364 in limited action over the week.

What’s Ahead

The Cubs meet the Giants and the Cardinals in their next two series. They will have to improve on their recent play to win those two.

A series between the Sox and Royals this weekend is another highlight.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7531
MDR Blog 5/13
05-13-2016
07:44 AM ET (US)
The Cubs were showing some weaknesses for the first time this season as they headed into the weekend and prepared for a series against I-94 rivals, the Brewers, next week.

On Wednesday, the Cubs dropped a doubleheader to the Padres. This was the first time this season they had lost two straight. It also was the deepest the Cubs had gone into a season without losing back-to-back games since 1907. That team did not lose consecutive contests until the 34th and 35th games, May 26-27. Wednesday's second game was No. 33 this season for the Cubs.

So, it’s hardly time to panic for Cubs fans. But, the team did not have its usual offensive pop in the twin bill. Some cracks in the lineup also have shown up. Jason Heyward was hitting .231. Jorge Soler was under .200. Some of the other Cubs hitters who were hot have cooled. For example, Kris Bryant was hitting only .226 in his last seven games.

Of course, Heyward traditionally is a slow starter, and the Cubs do have alternatives to Soler. Bryant will have his ups and downs in any season since he has a long swing that can be exploited at times.

Whether this is a real slump, or nothing but a couple losses on the same day, might be determined this weekend, when the Cubs host the Pirates at Wrigley Field. Chicago swept the Pirates last week to start an eight-game winning streak that ended with the losses to the Padres..

Of more interest to MDR readers might be the series next week at Miller Park. The Cubs have beaten the Brewers in two games thus far, both at Wrigley. But, the Brewers have been playing better ball as of late.

Veterans like Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Aaron Hill have been productive at the plate. Jonathan Villar has continued to play well in the field and on offense. Hernan Perez and Alex Presley have contributed. Chris Carter has cooled off, but has been among the league leaders in home runs and RBIs so far this season.

The Brewers’ starting pitching can’t match up against the Cubs. Overall, there is no doubt the Cubs have superior talent and experience and should go on to win the NL Central and challenge for the World Series title.

But, for the first time this season, the Cubs have looked mortal. They might bounce back and get on a roll this weekend, but if not they could come to Miller Park somewhat vulnerable to the hungry Brewers.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** The Brewers have acquired righty Jhan Marinez from the Rays, according to a club announcement. To clear roster space, southpaw Michael Kirkman was designated for assignment.

** The Brewers made some other roster moves Thursday, with Scooter Gennett activated from the DL and fellow infielder Yadiel Rivera being optioned to Triple-A.

** Former Brewers outfielder Logan Schafer has signed with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League, the team announced (as Jason Bristol of CBS 21 first reported, on Twitter, yesterday). Another former Brewer, first baseman Matt Clark (a former teammate of Schafer), has agreed to a deal with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball

Cubs

** Cubs ace Jake Arrieta won’t offer the team a discount in extension talks, he told reporters, including ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. According to previous reports, the Cubs have been hesitant to commit to anything greater than a four-year term, and that length clearly isn’t of interest to the 30-year-old reigning Cy Young winner.

** There’s long been talk that Theo Epstein would sign a new deal with the Cubs before reaching executive free agency after the season, but he tells Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link) that there are no imminent extensions — either for himself or with any of the team’s players.

** Catcher Miguel Montero is scheduled to return from the DL next week.

Twins

** Miguel Sano has had some struggles in right field, but ranks second in the MLB for throwing strength with 95.5 mph. Former Twin Aaron Hicks, now with the Yankees, ranks first at 99.

** LHP Pat Dean made his big league debut Wednesday and gave up two runs in 2.2 innings.

** Closer Glen Perkins, who has been injured most of the season, will throw his first bullpen session on May 23.

White Sox

** 3B Todd Frazier was listed as day-to-day after getting five stitches in his lip for a cut suffered when he tried to catch a foul ball in the stands.

** The White Sox have acquired righty Anthony Ranaudo from the Rangers, according to an announcement from Texas VP of communications John Blake. RHP Matt Ball was sent to Texas.

** The Padres have claimed catcher Hector Sanchez off waivers from the White Sox, per the MLB.com transactions page.

Player of the Week

The Brewers’ Aaron Hill started the week with a 3-homer, 7-RBI game and extended his hitting streak to 10 games before it was over. That earned him the MDR Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR Players of the Week included: the Cubs‘ Ben Zobrist, who was hitting .556 with two homers in his last eight games; the Twins’ Trevor Plouffe, who was hitting .316 in his last seven games; and the Sox’s Chris Sale, who moved to 7-0 with a 1.79 ERA.

What’s Ahead

The Cubs-Brewers series at Miller Park highlight next week.

Before that series, you can go to the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association dinner at the Milwaukee Athletic Club on Monday, May 16.. Don't miss the opportunity to listen to former commissioner Bud Selig. They also have a visual tribute to Billy Bruton. Unfortunately, Billy O'Dell will be unable to attend. Call 414-281-5183 for tickets.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7530
MDR Blog 5/6
05-06-2016
09:47 AM ET (US)
Midwest Diamond Report Blog - 5/6

The Twins and White Sox meet in Chicago this weekend. The Twins were predicted to be contenders in the AL Central by many so-called experts while the previews of the White Sox were mixed.

So far this season, however, the Twins have bombed and the Sox are leading the AL. Why?

Bruce Levine, a respected radio reporter for years in Chicago, recently wrote: “The White Sox have won games the old-fashioned way — with pitching, defense and and by going above and beyond in the ‘little things.’ What defines little things? A good bunt, a clutch catch and putout, a great throw and tag play are a few examples. And all of those components have been a part of the winning baseball the White Sox have played.
 Last season, the team rarely displayed the savvy tactics or low-profile execution that it took to win close games.”

“I don’t want to get into it, comparing players,” manager Robin Ventura said of why the Sox have improved this season. “We do have different players this year (five new position starters). These guys just seem have some things going for them.”

More from Levine: :In the past few years, it hasn’t been so simple for the White Sox. To the credit of the the team’s front office, they identified a group not functioning together and brought in a different mix.”

“You look back at the end of some years and the close games you won and lost,” newcomer Todd Frazier said. “Are we 10 games over because of doing the little things? You want to win those close games no matter what. You know you can contribute to that by doing your job and executing. We really have not been scoring a lot, but we pay attention to defense and getting the job done in game situations.”

Levine’s story seems to have nailed it. Ventura, considered a good fundamental player in his day, could not get last year’s team to execute and thus was widely criticized by fans and some media. The Sox’s front office stayed loyal to Ventura and decided he wasn’t the problem. They stuck with him, and now the Sox are playing the kind of fundamentally sound baseball Ventura has always emphasized.

The Twins’ miserable start to the season is the result of a “total system failure” rather than any individual’s performance, club owner Jim Pohlad tells Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

More from www.mlbtraderumors.com: “Pohlad says that GM Terry Ryan ‘is the right guy’ to run the baseball operations department, while skipper Paul Molitor ‘has our total support.’ The owner rejected the idea that more money would have done much good, saying: ‘I don’t believe that the money thing has been a constraint on the team’s success.”
 ‘And he doesn’t seem to believe that the choices made with the funding were ill-considered.

“We’ve been at this for a little while … the owner can’t do a whole lot,” he explained. “But what could Terry do? Or what could Paul do? I just don’t know at this point. It’s just a total system failure, so to speak.”

Like the Sox, the Twins’ brass seems to believe they have the right leadership in place.
 Twins fans can only hope that the loyalty pays off in the long run like it has for the Sox and Ventura.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** RHP Wily Peralta will miss a start Friday while on paternity leave. RHP Tyler Cravy was called up and made the start.

** The Brewers have designated lefty Sam Freeman. His roster spot was needed for righty Junior Guerra, who started on Tuesday.

** The Brewers announced they have claimed left-hander Michael Kirkman off waivers from the Padres. San Diego had designated Kirkman for assignment earlier in the week after just one appearance.

Cubs

** CF Dexter Fowler was ejected for the first time in his career.

** The Cubs swept their three-game series at Pittsburgh earlier this week, racking up at least 10 hits in each game. Prior to that series, the last time Chicago swept an opponent while recording at least 10 hits in every game was when they swept a three-game series versus the Brewers in Chicago from September 1-3, 2014.

** The Cubs announced they’ve placed outfielder Matt Szczur on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring and selected the contract of outfielder Ryan Kalish to take his place on the active roster.

Twins

** RHP Erwin Santana will be activated from the DL and start against the Sox over the weekend.

** Righthander J.R. Graham joined the club Wednesday from Class AAA Rochester, where he had a 10.80 ERA in eight appearances. That includes eight earned runs over his last 3⅔ innings.

** The Twins have placed southpaw Tommy Milone and righty Casey Fien on waivers, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports.

White Sox

** The White Sox are on the lookout for a left-handed bat and an addition to the starting rotation.

** LHP John Danks, who was released by the Sox after 10 years, told reporters, including MLB.com’s Scott Merkin, that he has no hard feelings toward the White Sox organization and is supportive of the team’s decision.

** The White Sox have placed right-hander Jake Petricka on the 15-day disabled list with a left hip impingement, the club announced. Petricka’s DL stint is retroactive to May 2, though there’s no immediate timetable for his return. Chicago announced that right-handers Tommy Kahnle and Erik Johnson have been recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to take the place of Petricka and Danks.

Player of the Week

The Brewers’ Chris Carter his his 10th home run of the season and continued to be very productive at the plate to earn the Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Cubs’ Ben Zobrist who had four RBIs against the National and an overall good week at the plate; the Twins’ Joe Mauer, who hit .348 over the last six games; and the White Sox’s Jose Abreu, who hit .375 with a homer and nine RBI’s in a six game stretch.

What’s Ahead

The Twins-Sox series in Chicago highlights the weekend action.

The Chicago SABR chapter will hold their next meeting on May 14 at the Austin-Irving Branch of the Chicago Public Libraries, 6100 W. Irving Park, in Chicago A pre meeting lunch will be held at the Burgundy Restaurant, 5959 W. Irving Park Road (SE Corner of Austin and Irving, a block east of library) from 11:30-12:30. The meeting will be from 1-4:30 p.m.

Just a reminder that the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association will meet at the Milwaukee Athletic Club on May 16.. Don't miss the opportunity to listen to former commissioner Bud Selig. There also have a visual tribute to Billy Bruton. Unfortunately, Billy O'Dell will be unable to attend. Call 414-281-5183 for tickets..

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
 ** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
 ** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7529
MDR Blog 4/29
04-29-2016
08:14 AM ET (US)
Midwest Diamond Report Blog - 4/29

 Jake Arrieta looked mortal for one inning against the Brewers last Thursday, and then went back to being a Super Hero. Thursday, after all, was National Super Hero Day.

 The Cubs' Cy Young Award winner gave up a leadoff bloop single to Jonathan Villar and walked two batters to load the bases in the first inning. Arrieta then struck out Chris Carter and Kirk Nieuwenhuis to get out of the inning.

 Arrieta went on to extend his scoreless streak at Wrigley Field to 52 2/3 innings before the Brewers Alex Presley drove in Villar in the 5th inning. He actually left the contest after five innings and got the win to go 5-0.

 For the last two seasons, Arrieta has been the most dominant righthander, if not the most dominant overall pitching, in baseball. Before coming to the Cubs, he was an under .500 pitcher for the Orioles.

 A former Brewer, Cubs' pitching coach Chris Bosio, has played a role in Arrieta's rise to stardom. “He has been a source of positive energy and a good friend,” Arrieta said of the relationship with Bosio. “He has helped me get my concentration back and has been there really for all the pitchers and the entire team.”

 Bosio says he primarily let Arrieta go back to what had been his natural deliver, after the Orioles has him experimenting. He urged Arrieta to work on the mental side ot the game.

 “I suggested to Jake that he consider a few things,” Bosio said. “I said beyond being a great pitcher, you should consider yourself a leader and carry yourself that way. I suggested that he needs to be that guy in the clubhouse and on the bench. I told him I saw these leaderships abilities in him.

 “Jake has taken it to the next level and has been that guy,” Bosio added. “He has given credit to everyone and has blossomed into the top pitcher in the league. He deserves the credit.”

 Arrieta's performance against the Brewers actually was not up to the standards he has set in the last two years. His ERA actually went up -- to 1.00 -- by allowing one run. Because he left after five innings, his streak of quality starts ended at 24 straight.

 But, those facts show just how his standards, and expectations, have grown for Arrieta. And, perhaps the most important stat of all is that the Cubs have now won 18 straight games when Arrieta has pitched. That's a Cubs' record.

 Updated Notes

 (Some of these notes come from .www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

 Brewers

 ** RHP Taylor Jungmann dropped to 0-4 with a 9.15 ERA.

 ** The Brewers issued 11 walks to the Cubs Thursday.

 ** 2B Scooter Gennett could miss up to three weeks with his oblique injury. Hernan Perez was called up from the minors and could share time at second with Yadiel Rivera. RHP Matt Garza was moved to the 60-day DL to make room on the roster for Perez.

 Cubs

 ** The Cubs' 16-5 start is the best in baseball.

 ** The Cubs catcher Miguel Montero was put on the disabled list, retroactive to Monday, with back problems. The Cubs called up Tim Federowicz from Triple-A Iowa to take Montero's spot.

 ** Kris Bryant left Thursday's game after rolling his ankle. He is day-to-day.

 Twins

 ** Jose Berrios, considered the Twins' top pitching prospect, lasted only four innings in a 6-5 loss to the Indians in his MLB debut.

 ** Rookie Byron Buxton was sent down to the minors do work on his swing, but the club emphasized he will be back with the big league club.

** Twins Minor League outfielder Reynaldo Rodriguez received an 80-game suspension on Thursday after testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

 White Sox

 ** The Sox had the best start in the AL with a 16-7 record. The last time the two Chicago teams had the best records in baseball this far into the season was May 29, 1973.

 ** RHP Daniel Webb was called up and starter Miguel Gonzalez was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.

 ** The White Sox placed right-hander David Robertson on the bereavement list on Thursday and recalled infielder Carlos Sanchez from Triple-A Charlotte.

 Player of the Week

 Since we featured Arrieta in the lede section of this blog, we'll pitch the other Chicago ace, the White Sox's Chris Sale, as the Player of the Week. Sale ran his record to 5-0 with another dominant performance.

 Other MDR teams' Players of the Week included the Brewers' Villar, who had three hits and three stolen bases against the Cubs on Thursday; the Cubs' Arrieta, for the reasons mentioned in the first section; the Twins' Eduardo Nunez, who was hitting .316 in the last seven games.

 What's Ahead

 As we head into May, we can look forward to a couple MDR Rivalry series. The Sox will host the Twins May 6-8. The Brewers will host the Cubs May 17-19.

 The Brewers and the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association will induct former Milwaukee Braves outfielder Bill Bruton into the Braves Honor Roll. An induction ceremony will take place at Miller Park on Monday, May 16, beginning at noon at the site of the Braves Honor Roll, which is located on the Miller Park Field Level Concourse along the third base side.

 The lightning-quick center fielder spent eight of his 12 seasons in the Major Leagues with the Milwaukee Braves from 1953-60. He batted .276 with 48 HR, 327 RBI and 143 stolen bases with the Braves. He passed away on December 5, 1995. Bruton family members will be attending the May 16 ceremony.

 Bruton will become the 15th member of the Milwaukee Braves Honor Roll. Previous inductees include: Warren Spahn (2004), Johnny Logan (2005), Andy Pafko (2006), Bobby Thomson (2008), Bob Uecker (2009), Felix Mantilla (2010), Eddie Mathews (2010), Joe Adcock (2011), Frank Torre (2011), Hank Aaron (2012), Del Crandall (2012), Gene Conley (2013), Joe Torre (2014) and Red Schoendienst (2015).

 Later that night, the MBHA will honor Bruton and former commissioner Bud Selig. For more info about tickets, go to the MBHA site.

 The Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame induction, the first since 2009, will be held Saturday. About 2200 people have bought tickets, but some still are available. Go to the Hall web site at http://www.wihalloffame.com for info.

 ##

 You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
 ** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
 ** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7528
MDR Blog - 4/23
04-23-2016
09:19 AM ET (US)


Paul Molitor was one of Craig Counsell's favorite players when he was a kid.

 

"Paul, Robin (Yount), Cooper. the way they played the game was great," Counsell said. "You learned a lot about the game by just watching how they went about their business."

 

Counsell saw a lot of those Brewers, in part because he was a huge fan and in part because his father, John, was in the team's front office. It was a dream for an aspiring

youngster, who went on to a successful baseball career himself and now serves as manager for the franchise he adored as a kid.

 

Counsell and Molitor were in opposite dugouts for four games this past week, as the Brewers and Twins played a four-game home-and-home series. The teams split the series, 2-2.

 

Both clubs are rebuilding. The Twins started their process last year, going a surprising 83-79. Molitor earned the AL Manager of the Year award because of the effort. This year, his

club got off to an 0-9 start, but they have been playing better as of late and have talent.

 

Counsell's task is tougher. The Brewers cleaned house over the winter and brought in youngsters whose talents are still developing. Nobody really knows how far they can go, or how long it might take for the team to get close to contending again.

 

As this writer watched the four games, two on TV and parts of two at Miller Park, I couldn't help but think how different things might have been. At one point, Molitor often was talked about as the potential manager of the Brewers, or a member of the franchise's front office.

But, that never happened for several reasons. First, Paul is from St. Paul and went home again to get his 3,000th career hit and join the Twins organization after his retirement as a player.

 

Relations with the Brewers also were strained when Molitor left the Brewers as a free agent after the 1992 season. It was seen as a bit of heresy by the Brewers' faithful. Then GM Sal Bando also made a statement that the Brewers had not been winning with Molitor, and at least hinted that No 4 wanted too much money for a DH.

 

Of course, Molitor went on to win a World Series with the Blue Jays and wrapped up his playing days with the Twins. His relations with the Brewers improved, to the point where he went into Cooperstown as a Brewer. His No. 4 also was retired and hangs in Miller Park along with the other Brewers who are in the Hall.

 

Counsell joined the Brewers' front office after his playing days and looked destined to become Doug Melvin's successor as GM. Then last season, things turned when Ron Roenicke was fired as manager and Counsell was named to replace him.

 

So, with these backgrounds, Counsell and Molitor found themselves looking at each other in opposite dugouts. You have to wonder if they ever wonder if things might have been different. Could there have been a combo of Counsell as GM and Molitor as field manager in Milwaukee, or vice versa? We'll never know.

 

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from
www.mlbtraderumors.com.)
Brewers

** Ten of Chris Carter's first 14 Brewers hits are for extra bases, including his ninth-inning double on Friday. But he also contributed a single in the first inning for a 1-0 Milwaukee lead and Carter's 14th RBI, tops on the team. He is hitting .259/.328/.593 after 16 games.

** Former Brewers pitcher Don August joined the Brewers FOX TV team for the weekend series with the Phillies.

** RHP Matt Garza has reported his ailing shoulder has improved, but he is not yet throwing.

Cubs

** Jake Arrieta made only nine regular-season starts between his two no-nos, six at the end of last season and three at the beginning of this one. In Major League history, only two pitchers have taken the ball fewer times in between. The Reds' Johnny Vander Meer famously became the only pitcher to throw back-to-back no-hitters in June 1938, and Hall of Famer Warren Spahn had only a five-start gap for the Milwaukee Braves between Sept. 16, 1960, and April 28, '61.

** In the 16-0 win, Chicago scored multiple runs in five innings on its way to the largest margin of victory in a no-hitter in the modern era. Only the 1884 Buffalo Bisons can top that margin, having defeated Detroit 18-0 on Aug. 4 that year, in Pud Galvin's no-no.

** Through Friday night, the Cubs had 15 quality start in 17 games, the most in franchise history. Chicago starters have given up just 29 runs (27 earned) and lead the Majors with a 2.13 ERA.

Twins

** RHP Kyle Gibson gave up seven runs in three innings Friday.

** Injured closer Glen Perkins tells 1500 ESPN’s Phil Mackey that a second opinion confirmed that he won’t require surgery to repair his ailing shoulder, but he’s still “at least” a few weeks away from pitching (Twitter link).

** Target Field was lit in purple to honor music legend Prince, a Twin Cities native who died Friday.

White Sox

** The White Sox turned a 9-3-2-6-2-5 triple play against the Rangers. Adam Eaton started the wild sequence in the 7th inning,

** LHP Jose Quintana threw seven shutout innings against the Rangers.

** Mat Latos has paid huge dividends to the White Sox cin his first three starts for the organization, as Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune writes. Since signing for just $3MM in an effort to rebuild his career, Latos has spun 18 1/3 innings in which he’s allowed just six hits and one earned run.

 

Player of the Week

 

The Cubs’ Jake Arrieta earned the honor for his second no-hitter. He also went 2-for-4 in the 16-0 win.

 

Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Chris Carter, who continued to drive in runs and provide power for the team; the Twins’ Ricky Nolasco, who struck out seven in 6.1 innings against the Brewers; the White Sox’s Adam Eaton, who led the team with a .317 average and started a triple plan against the Rangers.

 

What’s Ahead

 

The Brewers travel to Wrigley Field to take on the Cubs Tuesday through Thursday of the coming week.

 

The Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame induction, the first since 2009, will be held Saturday. About 2200 people have bought tickets, but some still are available. Go to the Hall web site at http://www.wihalloffame.com for info.

##

 

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
 

 ** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
 ** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
Edited 04-23-2016 09:20 AM
7527
MDR Blog 4/16
04-16-2016
08:40 AM ET (US)
The 2016 season is just about two weeks old. So, let’s take a look at how the MDR teams are performing in comparisons to expectations.

The Cubs have gotten off to a good start and occupied first place in the NL Central as of this writing. They were the first in the MLB to eight wins. That pretty much lives up to projections for the club.

They were dealt a blow when Kyle Schwarber suffered a season-ending knee injury. Over the long season, they will miss him. Jorge Soler, originally planned to platoon with Schwarber, has played well, especially improving his so-called situational hitting.

“That’s what we need from him, those kind of mental at-bats,” manager Joe Maddon said. “You can stay in the cage as long as you want or take as many swings as you want. That’s not going to matter. It’s about what you’re thinking. And those are really well thought-out at-bats by our group. We have to get Jorge there because he’s very capable of it. We’ve seen it in the past. We get him there with those really strong mental at-bats, sky’s the limit for him.”

Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist have been off to great starts at the plate. Anthony Rizzo’s batting average is down, but he’s provided power and RBI’s. Kris Bryant is off to a slow start, but will pick it up. Cy Young award winner Jake Arrieta is leading the pitching with a 2-0 record and ERA under 2.00.

The White Sox also have lived up to the expectations of some, including this writer, who thought they would be contenders. The Sox were right there with the World Champs, the Royals, in the AL Central.

Adam Eaton is off to a great start. Jose Abreu had a couple home runs. Todd Frazier’s average was down, but he was driving in runs.

Chris Sale was 3-0. The bullpen was performing well, with David Robertson 3-for-3 in save opportunities.

The Brewers were where many expected -- near the bottom in the NL Central -- but were actually exceeding expectations as far as their won-loss record. Scooter Gennett and Jonathan Villar were hitting well and providing strength up the middle of the infield. Chris Carter was showing power.

Jimmy Nelson had a couple good starts. Now, the rest of the starting rotation needs to catch up to him. The bullpen has proven to be a strong point.

The Twins have fallen well behind pre-season expectations so far. They got their first win of the season Friday, as they rallied for two runs in the seventh before Byung Ho Park put in them in front with an RBI double in the eighth for a decision over the Angels.

They started 0-9 and were not performing well in any aspect of the game. Hitters were having a tough time putting the ball in play and had struck out a MLB high 79 times in the first seven games.

Joe Mauer was one exception to the rule, hitting over .300. That could be a good sign for the long term.

Two weeks is hardly a big sample, but it is worth pausing to make some early assessments. This writer expects the Cubs and White Sox to remain near the top of their divisions. The Brewers are still in a major rebuilding project and could finish last or near the bottom of their division, but they are showing they can get on base and compete. The Twins are not nearly as bad as they have played and will climb in the standings.

Updated Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** Ryan Braun’s two homers helped the Brewers to a win that evened their record at 5-5 on Friday.

** The Brewers struck out 13 times and got only a single by Domingo Santana against the Cardinals’ Jaime Garcia on Thursday.

** RHP Chase Anderson kept his 2016 ERA at 0.00, allowing no earned runs over six innings against the Cardinals on Wednesday night.

Cubs

** The Cubs officially activated Javier Baez on Friday, optioning infielder Munenori Kawasaki to Triple-A Iowa.

** The Cubs cooled down Friday in a 6-1 loss to the Rockies at Wrigley Field, ending a five-game win streak and halting a stretch of four games with at least five runs scored.

** 3B Kris Bryant hit his first home run of the season on Wednesday. He followed with another on Thursday.

Twins

** The Twins have agreed to a minor league contract with veteran outfielder David Murphy, reports La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (links to Twitter). The 34-year-old Murphy was in camp with the Red Sox on a minor league contract and didn’t make the club.

** Closer Glen Perkins was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder strain. Minnesota called up lefty reliever Taylor Rogers from Triple-A Rochester to replace him on the roster.

** OF Byron Buxton was listed as day-to-day with a bruised left hand.

White Sox

** Melky Cabrera had five straight multi-hit games.

** The Sox swept a series from ALC and MDR rival Minnesota during the week with wins of 4-1, 3-0 and 3-1.

** Jerry Sands hit his first home run as a member of the White Sox.

Player of the Week

The Cubs’ Dexter Fowler had a .559 on-base percentage and five multi-hit games in the first nine contests to earn the Player of the Week honor.

Other MDR teams Players of the Week included: the Brewers’ Ryan Braun, who hit two homers on Friday; the Twins’ Eduardo Nunez, who went 4-for-4 in his first start of the season against the Royals on Sunday, and served as a sparkplug again on Friday, going 3-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch; and the White Sox’s Chris Sale, who moved to 3-0 with a two-hit shutout Friday night.

What’s Ahead

The Brewers and Twins start a home-and-home four-game series Monday at Target Field. The first two games will be held in the Twin Cities, the last two at Miller Park.

The next meeting of the Ken Keltner Badger State Chapter of SABR will take place at J&B's Blue Ribbon Bar, 53rd and Bluemound Road, 11 am on Saturday, April 23. Guest Speakers will be ESPN's Drew Olson, and Brewers TV announcer Bill Schroeder, authors of the book, “If These Walls Could Talk.”

Pete Rose is being inducted in the the Bobblehead Hall of Fame in an event taking place at the Pabst Theater on Saturday April 23. Doors open at 1 pm, with the event beginning at 2 pm. Drew Olson will be the host, and Rose will do Q&A. For more info, go to:
https://www.bobbleheadhall.com/pete-rose-to-be-inducted-in…/

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/MDR Blog
7526
MDR Blog 4/9
04-09-2016
08:29 AM ET (US)


Every baseball team is optimistic on opening day. The Brewers' leadership trio reflected that earlier this week, but also seemed realistic about their journey on creating a "new foundation" for the franchise.

 

"We've talked about every day commit to being a group, commit to being a team." said manager Craig Counsell. "We're building a new foundation. Where that leads us, we'll see. We're trying to take the approach that we improve every day, that at the end of the season we are a better team than we are at the start. If we stay together as a group, I think we'll make progress."

 

GM David Stearns was experiencing his first opening day as head of the Brewers baseball operations. "It's exciting to see what you have put together on the field,” he said. “The focus turns to the major league club at this point of the season. Some of what we have been doing will show up at the major league level and some at the minor league level. Our main focus is to continue the formation of our core talent."

 

The Brewers have turned over 20 players of their 40-man roster. They have committed to young talent with the parent club and in the minors. No timetables have been set at this point.

 

"Timelines are dangerous," Stearns said. "You can undersell or oversell your club by setting timelines. We are excited about the players in our clubhouse. We're also excited about the players who might follow them, and the next group of players behind them.

 

"The volume of talent we were able to bring in is what I'm proudest of so far. I'm pleased with what we did, to change half of our 40-man roster."

 

Principal owner Mark Attanasio said committing to a full-blown revamping has not been easy for him, but he believes it is the best thing for the long range future of the franchise.

 

"We started to pivot toward this when we hired Craig last season," Attanasio said. "Doug Melvin did a good job of setting things up for David with some moved before the end of the season.

 

"I knew then that we had to follow through all the way with that. It's exciting to be on the ground floor of something. We know there will be challenges. We've had several critical points since I took over. First was to get to .500, then to the playoffs. This is a critical point, which we hope eventually leads to the post-season again."

 

All three men seemed realistic and committed to establishing that "new foundation" that Counsell refers to. They feel the Brewers' fans also understand the approach and will be patient. "I don't feel like I've had to sell anything to our fans,” Stearns said. “They've seen the Cubs, the Astros and other teams do this. They are knowledgeable fans."

 

The Brewers tested their fans’ patience with an ugly 12-3 loss in the opener. They did get their first win on Wednesday and are hosting the Astros this weekend.
 
 

Updated Notes

  
(Some of these notes come from

www.mlbtraderumors.com


.)

 

Brewers

** Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was called out at first base for a game-ending double play Friday after the umpires deemed Colby Rasmus slid illegally past second base following Altuve's grounder. The Brewers won, 6-4. Under the new rule 6.01(j), runners have to make a "bona fide slide," which involves contact with the ground before reaching the base, attempting to reach the base with a hand or foot and being able to remain on the bag at the completion of the slide.

** The Brewers announced on Tuesday that they have acquired left-hander Sam Freeman from the Rangers in exchange for cash considerations. In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Freeman, the Brewers have designated right-hander Ariel Pena for assignment.

** Chris Capuano is set to earn a $1.5MM base salary with the Brewers after cracking the Opening Day roster as a minor league free agent. The southpaw can also take in as much as $1.25MM in incentives.

 

Cubs

** Cubs catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber will have surgery on a badly injured knee and miss the rest of the season. Jorge Soler will see the majority of action in left field.

** Anthony Rizzo drove in a career-high six runs in a 14-6 win over the D-Backs Thursday.

** Utility infielder Munenori Kawasaki has been added to the Cubs 40-man roster and optioned to Triple-A, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. Kawasaki, 34, will serve as middle infield depth.

 

Twins

** Byung Ho Park hit his first MLB home run Friday.

** The Twins have not won an opening series since 2010.

** The Twins selected the contract of Fernando Abad, the team announced. The southpaw signed a minor league deal with Minnesota in December after the A’s non-tendered him. The Twins released left-hander Aaron Thompson out of minor league camp at the end of Spring Training.

 

White Sox

** The White Sox play 17 of their first 27 games on the road and have only one day off during that stretch.

** White Sox righty Kameron Loe has received an 80-game suspension for PEDs, Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes (Twitter links). Officially, Loe tested positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone metabolite and methasterone.

** Miguel Gonzalez’s contract with the White Sox does not include an opt-out clause, Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago reports on Twitter. The veteran righty will represent useful rotation depth in Triple-A.

 

Player of the Week

 

The MDR Player of the Week, a popular feature when MDR was a web site, returns to the Blog this season. Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs earns this week’s honor for his six RBI game on Thursday.

 

Other team Players of the Week include: Brewers’ Chris Carter and Scooter Gennett, who hit two homers each in their first four games: Twins’ Eduardo Escobar, who hit .400 in the first four games; and White Sox’s Adam Eaton, who hit .450 in the first five games.

 

What’s Ahead

 

The first MDR Rivalry series of the season will be held at Target Field Monday when the Twins host the White Sox in their home opener.

 

Join Milwaukee Brewers official scorer Tim O'Driscoll on Wednesday, April 13, 6 pm. for a night of baseball talk at the St. Francis Public Library, 4230 South Nicholson Ave. Tim with share his experiences of scoring over 2,000 Brewers games He will also do Q&A. Please register in advance by calling (414) 481-7323.

 

The next meeting of the Ken Keltner Badger State Chapter of SABR will take place at J&B's Blue Ribbon Bar, 53rd and Bluemound Road, 11 am on Saturday, April 23. Guest Speakers will be ESPN's Drew Olson, and Brewers TV announcer Bill Schroeder, authors of the book, “If These Walls Could Talk.”

 

Pete Rose is being inducted in the the Bobblehead Hall of Fame in an event taking place at the Pabst Theater on Saturday April 23. Doors open at 1 pm, with the event beginning at 2 pm. Drew Olson will be the host, and Rose will do Q&A. For more info, go to:

https://www.bobbleheadhall.com/pete-rose-to-be-inducted-in…/

 

The Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame Bracket Challenge will determine Wisconsin's all-time favorite Hall of Famer. Categories are baseball, football, basketball and other greats/ The winner of each matchup will move onto the next round until one final Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Famer is chosen by the fans!

  
Submitting a vote enters you into a drawing for a chance to win two tickets to the 2016 WI HOF Induction Ceremony on April 30th honoring Donald Driver and Bo Ryan.

##

 

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
 ** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
 ** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7525
MDR Blog 4/1
03-31-2016
06:57 PM ET (US)
The regular season starts early next week. So, here are the annual Pompous Prognostications:

AL East - 1. Blue Jays, 2. Yankees, 3. Red Sox, 4. Rays, 5. Orioles.

AL Central - 1. Royals, 2. White Sox, 3. Twins, 4. Tigers, 5. Indians.

AL West - 1. Astros, 2. Angels, 3. Rangers, 4. A’s, 5. Mariners.

NL East - 1. Nationals, 2. Mets, 3. Braves, 4. Marlins, 5. Phillies.

NL Central - 1. Cubs, 2. Pirates, 3. Cardinals, 4. Brewers, 5. Reds.

NL West - 1. D-Backs, 2. Giants, 3. Dodgers, 4. Rockies, 5. Padres.

Wild Cards - Yankees and White Sox in AL, Pirates and Giants in NL.

League Champs - Blue Jays and Cubs.

World Series Champ - Cubs!!!!!

Yes, you read it right. This writer is picking the Cubs to win it all. Anthony Rizzo should challenge for a MVP Award, Jake Arrieta will once again be in the Cy Young mix, and Joe Maddon could pick up another Manager of the Year award.

The Cubs added veterans Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward and John Lackey to their already nice blend of young players and veterans. Forget their sub-par performance in spring training. Now that it is for real, this club will play up to its ability.

Things also should be interesting on Chicago’s South Side, where the Sox are greatly improved and should challenge the Royals in the ALC. Adam La Roche’s retirement over an issue with his son ticked off a lot of players against exec Kenny Williams, but they should put that behind them once the season starts. Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia are available to DH. Jose Abreu could become a MVP candidate.

The Twins also should contend in the division. Look for Korean star Byung Ho Park to be a AL Rookie of the Year candidate.

The Brewers are lucky the Reds also are going through rebuilding. Otherwise, Milwaukee would be the pick for the cellar in the NLC. The Brewers’ fans seem to know that the club is in for a few rebuilding years and should be patient.

A World Series between the Cubs and Blue Jays could be a slugfest. After it’s over, look for a World Series championship flag to be hanging over Wrigley.

Final Spring Training Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** Chris Carter and other former Houston prospects, as well as GM David Stearns, returned to Minute Maid Park for two exhibition games against the Astros.

** Scooter Gennett, who started spring training with a nagging injury, homered in the final Cactus League game and finished at .462 with four homers in 26 at-bats.

** With Yadiel Rivera and Colin Walsh headed north as reserve infielders, Hernan Perez, who spent much of last season with the Brewers, will start the season at Triple A.

Cubs

** Javier Baez will start the season on the DL with a left thumb injury.

** LHP Jon Lester homered for the first time since high school and broke an 0-for-67 at-bats streak.

** The Cubs signed RHP Jake Buchanon to a minor league contract after he was released by the Astros.

Twins

** Right-hander Ervin Santana was solid in his final tune-up before his Opening Day start, while Danny Santana paced the offense with three hits and two RBIs to help lead the Twins to a 4-3 win over the Blue Jays.

** Tyler Duffey and Ryan O’Rourke were optioned to Triple A, and Brandon Kintzler and Logan Darnell were assigned to the minors.

** RHP Ricky Nolasco will make the team as the No. 5 starter.

White Sox

** The Sox were said to be “aggressively pursuing” RHP Miguel Gonzales, who was put on waivers by the Orioles.

** Veteran Jimmy Rollins will start at shortstop with Tyler Saladino as the backup.

** RHP Mat Latos struggled through much of spring training, but will start the season in the rotation.

What’s Ahead

The Brewers are the only MDR team that opens at home, against the Giants on Monday.

The Cubs open Monday against the Angels in Anaheim. The White Sox also are on the West Coast against the A’s. The Twins open in Baltimore against the Orioles on Monday.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7524
MDR Blog 3/25
03-25-2016
09:11 AM ET (US)

Jonathan Villar might end up getting the title of “interim shortstop.”

In 2014, he began the year with the Major League club in Houston for the first time in his career and started on Opening Day at shortstop. But, when the Astros called up phenom Carlos Correa, Villar was told he should learn to play other infield positions.

Coming into this spring, Villar looked to see much of the playing time at shortstop. Yet, waiting in the wings for the Brewers is another top shortstop prospect, Orlando Arcia.

“I thank the Milwaukee team giving me the chance to play shortstop again,” said the 24-year-old Villar. “I know of Arcia and how good he is. All I can do is play my game and see what happens.”

When Jean Segura was traded over the off-season, many thought it was to open the position for Arcia. But, with contracts being what they are today, the Brewers opted to start Arcia at Triple A. He could be called up after a certain juncture in the season, which would allow the Brewers to have him under contract for one more full season. The Cubs did something very similar last season with Kris Bryant, who ultimately won the National League Rookie of the Year award last year.

Brewers GM David Stearns knew Villar from when both were with Houston. "As we began our off-season calls to other clubs it became clear that Houston had some depth at some of their infield positions, and they were likely going to need to move one or two of their guys," Stearns said.

"Jonathan was a guy that obviously I am familiar with him, and we as a front office thought he had the potential to be a quality major-league player. So when he became available it was an easy choice to pursue him.

"He's a good major-league shortstop," Stearns added . "He's been developed as a shortstop, he's come up as a shortstop over the last couple years. He's worked on his versatility so that he can play all over the infield, and he's played some outfield.
But we believe he can play shortstop, and we're looking forward to seeing that."

Yadier Rivera also likely will see playing time early in the season. Rivera was among the Brewers leaders in home runs and RBIs in spring training and, as he showed last season, is a good defensive shortstop.

But, ultimately Arcia will come up and likely become the starter at shortstop. He understood being sent to the minor league camp where he could play every day.

“I know I have to go, but I'm happy with how it went and I felt like I learned a lot," Arcia said in Spanish. "Every day I was here, I felt like the veterans were talking to me and trying to help me. I'll go to the other camp, but I'll go back with more knowledge than when I got here, so I'm not upset at all. I feel normal, actually."
When Arcia is called up, either Villar or Rivera could stick with the team to also play second or third.

Spring Training

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

** Ryan Braun was a late scratch from the Brewers' 9-2 win over the Royals and will remain sidelined on Friday with what manager Craig Counsell characterized as minor stiffness in Braun's lower back

** Jonathan Lucroy has been the subject of many trade rumors this winter, to the point that he and his family don’t have living arrangements in Milwaukee settled yet since he presumed he was going to be dealt: “It’s all out of your control. But communication is a big thing. I’d like to be kept up to date what’s going on. It’s not like I’m going to spread it all around, I just want to know when it’s coming, when to expect it.”

** Blaine Boyer’s opt-out with the Brewers is March 27 and Franklin Morales can opt out on March 28, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Brewers left-hander Sean Nolin won’t be ready for Opening Day and that could have roster implications for Milwaukee. As Nolin deals with his elbow issue, only two lefties – Chris Capuano and Morales – are vying for spots and both were brought in on minor league deals.

Cubs

** Kyle Schwarber could be a personal catcher for Jason Hammel this season, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney writes, as the Cubs are looking for ways to get Schwarber’s bat into the lineup whenever possible.

** Manager Joe Maddon said he likely will bat the pitcher ninth in the Cubs order rather than eighth with shortstop Addison Russell ninth like last season. "This year, the dynamics will be a little different, and I also believe 'Addy' can hold his own a lot better," Maddon said. "It still may happen on occasion. You may still see [the pitcher bat eighth], but not with the same consistency you saw last year."

** Shane Victorino, who has been slowed this spring by a strained right calf, will not make the Cubs' Opening Day roster and is considering whether he'll rehab in Mesa and then play for the organization's Triple-A team.

Twins

** Manager Paul Molitor announced Ervin Santana will start on Opening Day, followed by Kyle Gibson and Phil Hughes. Molitor also said there's still a competition for the rotation's final two spots.

** The Twins have outrighted lefty Mike Strong to Triple-A Rochester, clearing a spot on their 40-man, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger tweets. Strong was claimed twice this offseason, going from the Brewers to the Marlins and then on to the Twins.

** The Twins optioned J.R. Graham and Taylor Rogers to Triple-A Rochester and reassigned Buddy Boshers, Carlos Paulino, Buck Britton and Wilfredo Tovar. The moves left 37 players in Major League camp, with nine of them being non-roster invitees.

White Sox

** LHP John Danks threw six scoreless innings to extend his spring shutout streak to 11 innings.

** The White Sox signed righty Chris Volstad to a minor league contract, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports.

** Jose Abreu, a Cuban native, commented on the game between the Rays and the Cuban National Team, attended by President Barack Obama and more than 55,000 fans: "That's something great. We never thought that this could happen so soon. Yes, it's very special." Abreu later tweeted: “Thank you President Obama, MLB, MLB Players Association for making a dream come true for my generation.”

What’s Ahead

The Cubs host the Brewers this Friday in a Cactus League game.

The Brewers break camp in Arizona next Wednesday and play the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Thursday. The Cubs also leave Arizona and play the Mets in Las Vegas on Thursday.

The Sox are off March 31 and then play the Padres at Petco Park on Friday, April 1. The Twins will stay in Florida through March 31 and then play the Nationals in Washington D.C. on April 1.

The Minnesota United will take on Mexico's Club León at Target Field on June 25. This historic event will mark the first time a soccer match has been played at Target Field.

##

You can find the MDR Blog at the addresses below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7523
MDR Blog 3/18
03-18-2016
10:20 AM ET (US)
David Denson is like any other player in the Brewers farm system. He hopes to make it to the big leagues.

 He now feels he’ll be given a fair chance at achieving his goal, after he became the first active player affiliated with a Major League club to come out as gay.

 Denson, a 21-year-old first baseman and outfielder, came out last August in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story.

 “It’s been a lot different since I came out,” said Denson, a 6-3, 254 pound lefthanded hitter. "Heading into this year, I've done workouts that I've never done before. I've worked harder than I've ever worked before. That's why I'm so excited. I can see the difference. I can see the change."

 Denson always had potential, but at times seemed to be inconsistent in his effort and had anger issues that hurt him as a player, before he came out.

 "I felt like when I was at home or by myself, I was being me, but any other time I was being a totally different person," Denson said. "And I really was being a totally different person, so that didn't help.

 "In general, even off the field toward my teammates, I was getting a label for myself that I didn't like. I was a hothead. I had a temper. I had an attitude."

 Denson consulted Billy Bean, Major League Baseball's vice president for social responsibility and inclusion, who also is gay. Bean offered a big helping hand. He was one of many who have accepted Denson and helped him feel comfortable.

 The Brewers and MLB have been very supportive. Minor League Baseball gave him an award for his courage in coming out.

 "I was like, 'Did I just say that?'" Denson told MLB.com when he first made his declaration. "And my teammate said, 'We know that you are [gay]. We were just waiting for you to become comfortable enough to say it.'

 “I feared that my teammates would neglect me. That they wouldn't want me around. That I would make them feel awkward, that they wouldn't feel comfortable around me in the locker room because of that whole stereotype that somebody is gay and they're looking at me.

 "I worried about reactions of other teams. That coaches won't be OK with it because of the saying that goes around in the locker room, that if you're a distraction to the team, they want to get rid of distractions. All of that ran through my mind. None of it happened.

 "Their reaction was, ‘we don't care‘," Denson added. "We don't see you any differently. As long as you can play and go out and do your job, there's nothing that's holding you back anymore."

 Look for a longer story on Denson in the Game Day Brewers program during the season.

 La Roche Controversy

 (Parts of this note and the Spring Training Notes came from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

 The unexpected retirement of Adam LaRoche was brought about by a request from White Sox executive vice present Ken Williams to have LaRoche's 14-year-old son, Drake, become less of a presence with the team.

Retirement papers were signed by LaRoche, who will give up $13 million in the second year of his two-year deal, but the White Sox have not yet sent them in to the league office, allowing LaRoche time to reconsider.

 White Sox players have emphatically sided with LaRoche in the matter, so much so that the team considered boycotting a Spring Training game, reports ESPN’s Karl Ravech. Manager Robin Ventura intervened and convinced the players to take the field

 White Sox players had a “very heated” meeting with management wherein high-profile players, including Chris Sale, “really went after” Williams. Sources described the meeting as “very contentious,” noting that the Sox clubhouse thinks highly of LaRoche and his son.

 Spring Training Notes

 Brewers

 ** 2B Scooteer Gennett singled, doubled and homered as Milwaukee's DH in a 5-2 win over the Rangers. Gennett, sidelined to this point by a sore throwing shoulder, originally was not expected to play in a game until the weekend.

 ** Manager Craig Counsell intends to use both Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith in the closer role at the start of the season.

 ** Ryan Braun singled, drove in a run and scored in his first game.

 Cubs

 ** Jorge Soler smacked a two-run homer and an RBI double, and Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward each added RBI triples to spark the Cubs to a 15-4 victory Thursday over the D-backs.

 ** Closer Hector Rondon was tagged for five runs on seven hits in the eighth inning as the Royals humbled the visiting Cubs 10-0 Thursday. Rondon has been tagged for nine runs on 13 hits in four appearances this spring.

 ** Cubs prospect Willson Contreras looks more and more like the team’s long-term answer behind the plate with every passing day, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Wittenmyer spoke to catching coach Mike Borzello, manager Joe Maddon and infielder Javier Baez, each of whom raved about some combination of Contreras’ throwing, handling of the pitching staff and above-average batting.

 Twins

 ** Kyle Gibson settled down after serving up a leadoff homer to Mookie Betts, striking out seven in an encouraging pitching performance that helped the Minnesota Twins beat the Boston Red Sox 9-4.

 ** Twins right-hander Trevor May is headed to the bullpen to open the season, writes MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger.

** Tommy Milone, making his third start this spring, tossed four scoreless innings, allowed one hit, issued no walks and struck out two in the Twins' 5-3 win against the Cardinals. He has made a strong argument for a spot in the rotation.

 White Sox

 ** Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia could see time at DH if La Roche remains retired.

** The Sox had some interest in Justin Morneau as a replacement for La Roche until it was announced that Morneau’s elbow surgery will prevent him from returning until mid-season.

 ** Third-base prospect Matt Davidson hit two home runs Tuesday, including a two-run walk-off shot off Dodgers pitcher Jamey Wright to give the White Sox an 8-6 victory at Camelback Ranch.

 What’s Ahead

 The Brewers will play at the Cubs Friday, March 25. Teams have about two weeks left in Arizona and Florida. Some will play their final spring training games at venues in other locations.

 Final roster cuts will be made in about two weeks.

 ##

 Updates to the MDR Blog are periodically made:
 ** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
 ** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7522
MDR Blog 3/11
03-11-2016
07:59 PM ET (US)
The White Sox are among the leaders in the Cactus League after the first week of action.

That might surprise some, but not others. USA Today picked the Sox to win the AL Central before spring action even started. Some other media outlets are predicting vast improvement over the 76-wins season in 2015.

Ace LHP Chris Sale is very upbeat about what he sees from Sox camp: "You guys might not see it, but there is something different about this spring, a lot more energy and positivity. There's just something, and I think it's showing. It's definitely showing, we're putting up, what, 10 runs in three innings [Tuesday]? With that, you can't help but to build confidence and momentum going forward.

"This is fun. You have so many different people from different parts of the country and the world, and to mesh together like we have, the different personalities and different people with different humor, it's been fun. And I think that is part of the difference in this camp and previous camps."

Outfielder Avisail Garcia, the subject of trade rumors, has gotten off to a hot start and also is optimistic: "We have to start now and for me, it's important to win right now. Once you start winning, you have the feeling, you can trust the other guys. We have to work and have fun. We have to be ready for the season."

Fans too are catching the fever: “Numbers and statistics and projections aren’t always needed to make predictions about a team; sometimes you just have to be feeling it. With the second longest playoff drought (2008) in the American League, second to only the Seattle Mariners and coming off a 76-win campaign, the Sox are due to make a run to postseason,” wrote Stephen Cohn in his blog.

The Sox made a big addition this past week with the signing of outfielder Austin Jackson. He’ll play primarily centerfield with Adam Eaton sharing a corner outfield spot with Garcia and perhaps Melky Cabrera.

You can see a lineup now of: LF - Cabrera or Eaton, CF - Jackson, RF - Garcia or Eaton, 3B - Todd Frazier, SS - Jimmy Rollins or Tyler Saladino, 2B - Brett Lawrie, 1B - Jose Abreu or Adam La Roche, C - Dioner Navarro or Alex Avila, DH - Abreu or La Roche.

There is depth to that group. And, there also are the possibilities of some marketable trade pieces to fill other holes that might develop.

The starting rotation, headed by Sale, was thought all winter to be a possible strength. Sale will be followed by Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon, John Danks and perhaps Mat Latos. The bullpen also has depth.

Through mid-week, the Sox ranked second in batting average among all spring training teams and fourth in home runs. That’s from a team that lacked pop last season.

The AL Central looks to be tough, with the World Champion Royals at the top, the Twins looking to improve on a surprising 2015 season, and the Tigers and Indians also showing some potential. Plus, the Sox have the surging Cubs on the north side of town.

GM Rick Hahn said. "It doesn't matter what another team (Cubs) in another league is doing. Kansas City, Detroit, Minnesota and Cleveland, that's who we have to keep up with.

"The only thing that makes its harder on me is when I'm sitting home in October and they're (the Cubs are) celebrating,"

Spring Training Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** Domingo Santana finished 3-for-3 with a pair of RBIs Friday. He is 6-for-8 with two doubles and a homer from the leadoff spot.

** Jonathan Lucroy should be back behind the plate Saturday. Lucroy is off to a comfortable start in the Cactus League, with four hits, including a pair of doubles, in his first 12 at-bats.

** Jeremy Jeffress threw another bullpen session Thursday as the Brewers reliever looks to get back on schedule after suffering a right hamstring strain earlier in camp. 2B Scooter Gennett participated in throwing and hitting drills Wednesday, a day after the Brewers announced an MRI scan of his sore right shoulder revealed no structural damage.

Cubs

** Anthony Rizzo doubled twice, Miguel Montero hit a two-run homer and Dan Vogelbach added a solo shot in John Lackey's debut as the Cubs posted a 7-4 victory over a Reds split-squad team before a sellout crowd of 15,256 at Sloan Park on Friday.

** RHP Jake Arrieta struck out four of the six Indians batters he faced in his two scoreless innings Cactus League debut.

** The Cubs have released left-handed reliever Rex Brothers, tweets Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Brothers was acquired in a November swap with the Rockies, and his release will open a spot on the Cubs’ 40-man roster.

Twins

** Byung Ho Park hit his team-leading third homer of the spring Friday.

** Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios fired six scoreless innings while Eduardo Escobar, Kurt Suzuki and Carlos Quentin hit solo home runs in an 8-2 win over the Red Sox this past week.

** Quentin genuinely believed that his playing days were over when he announced that he planned to retire last May, he explained to Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Then, the Twins scouted him and invited him to spring training.

White Sox

** Leury Garcia, Jimmy Rollins and Jose Abreu each connected for home runs off Padres Pades’ starting pitcher James Shields Friday. Courtney Hawkins added another dinger off Luis Perdomo.

** Adam LaRoche, who suffered back spasms that caused him to leave a game in Surprise, Ariz., against the Royals, is getting a little bit better, according to manager Robin Ventura.

** The White Sox and Reds haven’t had any recent talks about Jay Bruce now that Chicago has added Austin Jackson on a one-year deal, tweets Jon Heyman. Following the addition of Jackson, the Sox are done with their pursuit of starting-caliber outfielders, Heyman notes.

What’s Ahead

The White Sox and Cubs are meeting Saturday in Mesa. They meet again March 18 in Glendale.

The Sox play the Brewers next Wednesday, March 16, in Maryvale.

FOX Sports Wisconsin’s regular season coverage begins Monday, April 4, with the Brewers home opener against San Francisco — the first of five televised games against the Giants. Coverage will begin at noon with a special one-hour edition of Brewers Live from Miller Park.

Other highlights from the 2016 schedule include: 16 games against divisional rival Chicago Cubs, 18 match-ups against the St. Louis Cardinals and a home-and-home series with the Minnesota Twins scheduled for April 18-20.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7521
MDR Blog 3/5
03-05-2016
10:06 AM ET (US)
Center field is the biggest question mark in the Brewers camp this spring.

No less than nine players are listed as possible center field candidates. Keon Broxton, Ramon Flores, Rymer Liriano, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Shane Peterson, Brett Phillips, Alex Presley, Michael Reed and Eric Young Jr. will compete for the center field position.

Phillips, a top prospect, likely will be sent to Triple A, where he can play every day. He was suffering from an oblique problem during this week.

The Brewers do have a depth chart for center, a long one. “That’s good to know, although I don’t think it means much at this time,” said Nieuwenhuis with a chuckle, when he was told brewers.com lists him on top of the depth chart in center field.

“We’re all in here competing for a job. It’s good really. We have a chance to get in on something on the ground floor here.”

Nienwenhuis, who has been somewhat of a journey man with the Mets and Angels, is 28 and can play all three outfield positions.

“I have played center the last couple seasons and feel comfortable there, but I can play wherever they need me,” he said. “In the years, I’ve been in the big leagues I’ve faced several different scenarios -- fourth or fifth outfielder, potential starter, you name it. I think that helps me here.

“You learn that all you can do is keep your head down and work hard, then let things fall into place.”

Broxton is another interesting center field candidate. “It’s wide open in center, with a lot of guys capable of playing there,” said the lanky Broxton, who has good speed. “It’s a great opportunity for a young player. When I was with Arizona, I thought I had a chance to make the team, but they were pretty well set with their outfielders.

“Here, I feel I have a definite chance to make it. Center field is where I feel most comfortable. So, I’m going to give it my best shot.”

Young Jr. is the veteran among the center field candidates at 31. “I can play center as well as several other positions,” said Young, whose father also played for the Brewers. “I think I also can help some of these young players here.

“There’s a lot of talent here. The major difference between this club and others in our division is experience. That’s where some of the veterans on the club can help out. If the kids step up who knows what we can do.”

Young’s versatility could lead to a roster spot as a utility player with others focusing on center.
Manager Craig Counsell said of center field, “"There's a lot of moving parts there. There's a number of players who have an opportunity there.

"It's kind of the roster puzzle you're trying to figure out," added Counsell. "Every time you put together a roster, some guys bring more offense to the table. Some guys bring more defense. Ultimately, it's production to win baseball games (that is sought).’

Brewers

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

** Perhaps the biggest “news” of the first Cactus League week for the Brewers revolved around Hank, the loveable stray dog adopted a couple years ago by the team. Earlier this week, an investigation by Brew Crew Ball sparked a heated debate: Is the current Hank the Ballpark Pup the same dog or has he been replaced by an imposter? The Brewers held a press conference Friday and announced that vet William S. Rice of Lakeside Animal Hospital, who has cared for Hank since his arrival in Milwaukee in the spring of 2014, confirmed the identity of Hank in an examination. Dr. Rice compared original and current dental records, which were a match. In addition, a microchip implanted in Hank when he moved from Arizona was scanned yesterday, and identification number matched Hank’s registration in the database. Hank just looks much better than he did in 2014 because he is well cared for by the family of Brewers Vice President and General Counsel Marti Wronski.

** Chase Anderson pitched two scoreless innings in a 2-1 win over the Cubs, while Chris Carter went deep as the other split squad beat the Giants, 8-7, in the Brewers first Cactus League action on Thursday.

** The Brewers beat up on UWM, 11-2, in their first exhibition game on Wednesday. Orlando Arcia homered for the Brewers.

Cubs

** Addison Russell homered in a 3-0 win over the Angels on Friday.

** The Cubs agreed to 2016 contract terms with 21 players on their 40-man roster with zero to three years of Major League service, including 2015 National League Rookie of the Year Award winner Kris Bryant, who will be paid $652,000. The list also includes Kyle Schwarber ($522,000), Javier Baez ($521,000), Addison Russell ($527,000) and Kyle Hendricks ($541,000).

** Javier Baez got a start in center field in the Cubs’ Cactus League opener.

Twins

** A Carlos Quentin go-ahead single in the top of the ninth inning was canceled out by an Adam Frazier RBI single in the bottom half of the inning, resulting in a 2-2 tie between the Twins and Pirates on Friday afternoon.

** Korean slugger Byung Ho Park struck out three times while serving as designated hitter for the Twins in a 7-4 win over the Red Sox on Wednesday.

** Phil Hughes tossed two scoreless frames and allowed one hit in the Twins‘ Grapefruit League opener, but he faced the minimum after getting Pablo Sandoval to hit into a double play in the second.

White Sox

** Brett Lawrie, Jason Coates and Adam LaRoche homered against the Indians on Friday.

** The White Sox have inked right-hander Kameron Loe to a minor league contract, reports MLB.com’s Scott Merkin (Twitter link). The 34-year-old Loe has spent parts of nine seasons in the Major Leagues, most recently appearing with the Braves in 2013.

** Manager Robin Ventura said on Wednesday that Jimmy Rollins should make the team. The former Phillies and Dodgers shortstop was signed to a Minor League contract and invited to camp at Camelback Ranch. He's not yet on the 40-man roster.

What’s Ahead

The Brewers and White Sox meet next Tuesday, March 8, at Maryvale. The Sox then play the Cubs on Saturday, March 12, in a split squad game.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7520
MDR Blog 2/26
02-26-2016
06:30 PM ET (US)
None of the MDR teams’ spring training camps have more enthusiasm than the Cubs’ camp this year.

That’s understandable after the Cubs’ hot finish to last season, and good performance in the post-season. The team has talent and added to it during the off-season. The Cubs are being picked by several “experts” to win it all for the first time since World War II.

Manager Joe Maddon, who deserves much of the credit for last year’s success, told his club this week to “embrace the target.” He said expectations and pressure can be positive words if the players use them to focus and maximize their performance.

Here’s some tidbits from Maddon’s talk and comments to the media from MLB.com:

** “We have not won a World Series in a century, so there's nothing to get complacent or cocky about. Bring that all on the table, talk about it, say it up front. That's why I believe it's important to embrace the target."

** "For me, it's not about [batting practice] and throwing sides. These guys are good baseball players. They're very good. The most important thing is for me to get them to start thinking properly. The other stuff will take care of itself. With good health and with repetition, the guys will play well this year. The only threat to us is us, and how we're thinking. I want to make sure I address that, talk about it, get it out there and make sure the conversation is healthy and good. That, to me, is the critical component in Spring Training. I want us to think well." --

** "Conversationally, what they're talking about, how they're saying it -- I cannot be more impressed," he said of the players. "As a group, we have to have the right kind of conversation, and we started it today."

In many ways, Maddon is “old school,” but he said he likes the new ways his players communicate with each other: "The old guys would talk about ‘these young players are out of the locker room so quickly. They should sit around and have a couple beers, and I’ll sit in the corner and smoke a cigar.’ And we miss that.

"Now you come in and tool around a food room with a juice bar and maybe a video game, and that's replacing a bucket of longnecks," Maddon added "I think it’s great. I think it’s awesome. And they’re 26. And they’re elevating their methods of approaching the day already. Can you imagine four years from now what that’s going to look like -- with good health, of course."

Yours truly has written in the past that while Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer got the young players who form the core of the Cubs, and those young players played like veterans last season, Maddon, a grizzled vet, was a key in meshing the young players with the vets into a team.

Maddon still is old school in many ways, but he’s also smart enough to adjust to his players and how the young guys approach the game.

Spring Training Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** Ryan Braun, now considered the left fielder again, on his surgically repaired back: "I'm able to do everything. I don't have any limitations. I think the plan is to kind of just pace ourselves as far as when I get into a game, but not because there's any limitations. Just to make sure we take advantage of the fact that we're out here for six weeks.”

** Keon Broxton, Ramon Flores, Rymer Liriano, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Shane Peterson, Brett Phillips, Alex Presley, Michael Reed and Eric Young Jr. will compete for the center field position.

** Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Astros tried to acquire Jonathan Lucroy from the Brewers last month but were not able to come to terms.

Cubs

** The Cubs and outfielder Dexter Fowler pulled off a surprise this week and agreed to terms on a 2016 contract with a mutual option for the 2017 campaign. Fowler likely will return center with Jason Heyward sliding to right. Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber will likely share left field. The move also could renew rumors of a deal involving Soler.

** The Cubs have acquired right-handed pitcher Aaron Brooks from the Oakland Athletics for outfielder Chris Coghlan. The Cubs have agreed to terms with outfielder Shane Victorino, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets. Victorino will receive a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite.

** Kyle Schwarber launched another batting practice home run over the right-field fence this week and didn't break a windshield. But the ball did leave a nice dent in the roof of a BMW parked there.

Twins

** Hall of Famer Rod Carew and recent Twins Hall of Famer Torii Hunter are both set to join the Twins as special instructors on Saturday. Carew, who suffered a heart attack in September and still wears a left ventricular assist device, is feeling much better and arrived in Fort Myers late Wednesday. He's hoping for a heart transplant once the season starts in April. Former Twins manager Tom Kelly arrived at camp on Friday and spent the day working with Byung Ho Park and Carlos Quentin at first base.

** GM Terry Ryan on manager Paul Molitor: ''He's about as good a baseball man as I've ever been around.''

** Joe Mauer didn't deny that he had suffered from blurred vision at the plate at various times since suffering a concussion, but he felt the story from the St. Paul Pioneer Press that initially broke the news focused more on the vision issues than on the fact that he's feeling much better heading into this season.

White Sox

** LHP Chris Sale will throw focused bullpen sessions, simulated games and even in a Minor League contest before he gets into Cactus League action around March 19,

** In addition to providing veteran depth at shortstop, newly-acquired 37-year-old Jimmy Rollins will serve as a mentor for young infielders like Tim Anderson, Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez.

** Eddie Einhorn, a White Sox executive for 35 seasons who spent six decades in the sports and broadcasting industries, died late Tuesday night in New Jersey from complications following a stroke. He was 80.

What’s Ahead

Exhibition games start this week. The Brewers kick it off against the UWM Panthers on Wednesday in what has become a traditional spring game. The Twins play the Red Sox on that same day in the Grapefruit League.

The Cubs start Thursday with a game at Maryvale against the Brewers. The Sox start that same day in a traditional game against the Dodgers at their joint training site in Glendale.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.

** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7519
MDR Blog 2/21
02-21-2016
08:03 AM ET (US)
In the coming weeks, the MDR Blog will include more information from the Cactus League than the Grapefruit League. That’s because yours truly lives in the Southwest during the winter and spends time in Arizona.

But, the Twins train in Florida. MLB also held a Grapefruit League Media Day for the first time this spring. So, in an effort to be fair and balanced, here are some tidbits from that day, thanks to MLB.com and other sources.

First, for the Twins, manager Paul Molitor and GM Terry Ryan spoke at the event.
They said they were unaware that Joe Mauer had been dealing with vision problems at the plate since suffering his concussion in 2013.

Mauer, who has seen his offensive production decline since the injury, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press last week that he's had times when he's had trouble picking up the ball at the plate since suffering the concussion, especially during day games. He plans on wearing sunglasses at the plate to help remedy the problem.

"I wasn't aware that he was dealing with some of those things more than anybody had any idea about," Molitor said. "I've thought about it some. And I'm sure Joe and I will have a chance to talk. A guy who is prideful and who wants to play -- and I'm not sure a guy who can't pick up a baseball and a guy has a sprained ankle are the same -- but if you feel like you can help the team, you're going to keep running back out there.

"But I know he's improving and has worked hard to make some of those things go away."

Ryan said, “"He has admitted it didn't come out the way he exactly wanted it to. The question was about how he was feeling and any health concerns. And he said, 'I'm coming off a concussion and not sure if you're ever going to be the same. And that I'm going to wear sunglasses.'

“I don't think he meant to make any excuses. He just answered that he's not the same. And I don't deny that. I think any time a guy has a concussion, he's not going to be 100 percent after that. And I think that's what he was trying to say.

"It's never trickled up to me," Ryan said. "I'm thinking he's fine. But I'll let him speak for himself, and you guys will see him soon."

Commissioner Rob Manfred opened the first-ever Media Day. This brief account from MLB.com included:

Although he didn't specify an exact target time, Manfred also plans to shorten the between-innings clock, which is currently two minutes and 25 seconds for locally televised games and two minutes and 45 seconds for nationally televised games. MLB also hopes to address a reduction in mound visits.

Regarding player safety -- specifically plays at second base -- Manfred said he expects a change. A potential solution could be for the fielder to be able to "take and/or stay on the base."

Spring Training Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** Jonathan Lucroy on his comments about a possible trade being a good thing, and his approach to spring training: "I don't have regrets (about his trade statements). I was just being honest about how I felt, I don't think anybody wants to be in a situation where people are expecting you to lose. But you can't fall for that mindset.

"It doesn't make sense to come out here and be bitter. It's just about getting back to playing a game for a living, having fun with it. I kind of had an epiphany a couple of weeks ago. I realized, 'I'm going back to the Brewers, no doubt. So let's do something positive.'"

** Adam McCalvy of Brewers.com poses this question about the Opening Day starter: Does he (manager Craig Counsell) go with the veteran, Matt Garza, as a show of support and an olive branch after the contentious way Garza's season ended last year?

** The Brewers have released southpaw Pat Misch to enable him to pursue an opportunity with Japan’s Orix Buffaloes, the club announced on Twitter.

Cubs

** Manager Joe Maddon said Jason Heyward should have no problems playing in center, calling him "one of the top five baseball players on the face of the earth."

** Kyle Schwarber broke a windshield in the parking lot with a long home run in batting practice and then took to Twitter, appealing to Safelite AutoGlass for help, which he promptly received.

** Carrie Muskat of MLB.com ran down six Cubs prospects to keep an eye on this spring. That list includes outfielder Albert Almora, the Cubs’ first round selection in 2012. Almora has been held back by injuries, but the 21-year-old is now healthy and he’ll open the season at Triple-A Iowa.

Twins

** Twins skipper Paul Molitor told reporters that heading into Spring Training, he’s considering Kurt Suzuki his starting catcher and trade acquisition John Ryan Murphy the backup.

** Prospects Nick Burdi and Jake Reed will get good looks in spring training as possible additions to the bullpen.

**The Twins continue to poke around the trade market for left-handed relief help and like Brewers left-hander Will Smith quite a bit, reports 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson in his latest podcast (audio link, with Twins talk firing up around the 37:45 mark).

White Sox

** The Sox are said to be interested in outfielder Austin Jackson.

** Todd Frazier says he‘s happy to be with the Sox: "I couldn't be happier. Just being in a nice city and with the players we've got here, it should be a pretty exciting year."

** USA Today is picking the White Sox to win the American League Central.

What’s Ahead

Pitchers and catchers have reported for MDR teams and position players are coming into camps every day. Workouts begin in earnest this week, and exhibition games start March 2.

The Brewers announced the 2016 Spring Training broadcast schedule today, which includes 16 radio broadcasts on 620 WTMJ, 14 televised games on FOX Sports Wisconsin and 10 webcasts at Brewers.com.

Hall of Fame announcer Bob Uecker and Jeff Levering will call the games on 620 WTMJ. Television announcers Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder will call the action on FOX Sports Wisconsin. Craig Coshun and Matt Lepay will also handle play-by-play duties for select games. Anderson, Coshun, Levering and Schroeder will team up on the Brewers.com webcasts.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7518
MDR Blog 2/13
02-13-2016
10:17 AM ET (US)
Pitchers and catchers start reporting this week for the four MDR teams. Let’s take a look at the camps of the clubs.

Brewers

What’s New - The David Stearns era has started. Newcomers include 1B Chris Carter, 3B Aaron Hill, RHP Chase Anderson and a mixture of young players, some with MLB experience and some none, too numerous to mention.

What needs to be done - The Brewers will want to solidify a starting lineup, with CF the main question mark. The starting staff and bullpen also will have to be determined. But, the Brewers clearly are starting over from scratch, so look for spring training to primarily be a time to get a look at a lot of their young players.

Key things to watch - How will Ryan Braun come back from back surgery? Will Jonathan Lucroy make it through spring training without being traded? Who will become the ace of the starting staff and closer?

Cubs

What’s New - The Cubs come into spring training as a top contender for the first time in years. Jason Heyward, John Lackey and Ben Zobrist will attract a lot of attention. Jake Arrieta comes to camp as a star rather than a pitcher trying to establish himself.

What needs to be done - The three key newcomers have to be incorporated into the overall lineup. The bullpen needs some refining. Otherwise, the Cubs need to stay healthy and avoid a letdown after their great finish last season.

Key things to watch - How does Heyward adapt to center field, after primarily being a corner outfielder? How is Zobrist used, primarily as a second baseman or utility guy. Can Kyle Schwarber improve his fielding in left field?

Twins

What’s New - The Twins will open camp as a legitimate contender after entering last spring training as a club expected to have some rebuilding years. Korean star Byung Ho Park will get a lot of attention. Miguel Sano will start spring training as a starter for the first time.

What needs to be done - Park’s position has to be established. The outfield, which could include Sano and Byron Buxton, has to be solidified. The bullpen needs to be settled.

Key things to watch - How does Park adjust to the big leagues, and again where does he play? Will Sano be able to handle right field defensively? Can Glen Perkins remain healthy and once again become a solid closer? If he can, the bullpen will have an easier time doing that settling in.

White Sox

What’s New - Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie, Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro head a group of newcomers who will give the Sox lineup a new look. The Sox’s manager Robin Ventura will be under more scrutiny than last year.

What needs to be done - Frazier and Lawrie have to be settled into the lineup. Avila and Navarro need to prove they can team up as a duo behind the plate. Also, the Sox need to determine how much holdovers Avisal Garcia, Melky Cabrera and Adam La Roche can contribute.

Keys things to watch - Will the Sox still add a stud in the outfield? If so, will Garcia or Cabrera exit? If not, can they be more productive than last year? Also, keep an eye of recently acquired Mat Latos. Could he work his way into a role that would help the Sox’s pitching?

Spring Training Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** The Brewers have acquired catcher Jacob Nottingham and right-handed pitcher Bubba Derby from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for outfielder Khris Davis.

** Domingo Santana probably will be the frontrunner in replacing Davis in left.

** The Brewers announced that outfielder Shane Peterson, who was designated for assignment when the team acquired Rymer Liriano from the Padres, has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Colorado Springs. The Brewers signed veteran relief pitcher Blaine Boyer to a Minor League contract on Friday and extended the right-hander an invitation to Spring Training.


Cubs

** The Cubs claimed left-hander C.J. Riefenhauser, who was designated for assignment by the Orioles. Chicago has designated fellow southpaw Edgar Olmos for assignment.

** The Cubs have invited 18 non-roster players to spring training.

** The Cubs have contacted the Rays about their pitching and outfield surplus, CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine reports.

Twins

** Twins first baseman Joe Mauer told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that his vision has been affected by the concussion that ended his 2013 season, especially during day games, as the sun makes it tough for him to pick up the ball. Mauer's offensive production has declined the past two seasons.

** Randy Rosario was something of a surprising addition to the Twins’ 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft, but as Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes, the Twins are impressed by the young left-hander’s promise.

** Oswaldo Arcia could still land a bench spot alongside John Ryan Murphy, Danny Santana and Eduardo Nunez.

White Sox

** The White Sox have agreed to terms with Travis Ishikawa on a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training. The 32-year-old left-handed hitter has experience in left field, right field and at first base.

** A White Sox official suggests to Bob Nightengale of USA Today that any prior efforts to pursue Desmond are not likely to prove fruitful, saying: “that ship has sailed.”

** Ex-White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen is returning to managing in Venezuela.

What’s Ahead

The White Sox will get a one-day start on the other MDR teams will their first scheduled workout for pitchers and catchers on Friday, Feb. 19, and first full workout on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

The first exhibition games are scheduled to start March 2, when the Brewers take on UWM at Maryvale.

The World Baseball Classic has started in Australia. Games are being played in Blacktown International Sportspark in Sydney.

Future qualifier pairings will be held in Estadio B Air in Mexicali, Mexico, Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City, Panama, MCU Park in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Brooklyn qualifier will be held in September, the others will run through March. The winners of each qualifier will advance to compete in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

##

The MDR Blog can be found at the locations below.
** http://www.quicktopic.com/31/H/bcq8WpiTHm8eC
** http://midwestdiamondreport.mlblogs.com/
7517
MDR Blog 2/6
02-06-2016
09:23 AM ET (US)
Brewers GM David Stearns has made a lot of deals, mostly for young players who have potential for the future.

His deal with the D-Backs, however, accomplishes some things for the future and present. Sending Jean Segura to Arizona opens up an opportunity for Orlando Arcia, the team’s top prospect, at shortstop. In case Arcia proves to not be ready, the deal with the D-Backs also brought 19-year-old infielder Isan Diaz, another good prospect.

Meanwhile, veteran Aaron Hill will give the Brewers a proven third baseman. He might not play every day, but if he stays healthy can give the team 100-plus games at a position where there are no real prospects.

RHP Chase Anderson also gives the Brewers an experienced starting pitcher who should be able to fill spot in the rotation. He’s not an ace, but definitely a .500 or better pitcher.

The Brewers have a host of promising young pitchers, but Anderson could end up a veteran that adds stability.

You actually can start seeing a potential lineup for the team developing: LF - Khris Davis, CF - Still a question mark, but several candidates including some with Major League experience, RF - Ryan Braun, 3B - Hill, SS - Arcia, 2B - Scooter Gennett, 1B - Chris Carter, C - Jonathan Lucroy.

Of course, Stearns might not be done. Rumors circulate around Lucroy, who has said publicly a trade might be better for him and the team.

Again, most of the deals made by Stearns have been for players who might not be seen at Miller Park for at least a couple years. Brewers fans are in for some rebuilding years and will have to be patient.

That’s why Stearns was brought in from Houston, where he played a role in the rebuilding of the Astros. He recently emphasized that while the Houston experience gives somewhat of a blueprint the rebuilding now will have to be done in a “Brewers way.”

“It’s a constant balancing act,” Stearns said. “We’re all very competitive people. Mark (Attansio) is a competitive person; I’m a competitive person. You get into this game because you enjoy winning, you like competing and you love baseball.

“It’s also understanding this is a process that we need to stay disciplined. We’re very cognizant of the product that’s going on the major league field, we’re cognizant of the need to compete and create and exciting brand of baseball. At the same time we need to
continue to pursue our overarching goal, which is to create an organization that is going to sustain competitiveness for a long period of time.
.
“This is going to take time,” Stearns added. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work by everyone involved in the organization. But the start has been promising and I’m encouraged about it.”

Hot Stove Notes

(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com.)

Brewers

** The Nationals have interest in Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, but are one of eight clubs on the 29-year-old’s no-trade list, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

** RHP Matt Garza plans to “pitch selfishly” in 2016, the righty told reporters (including MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy), meaning that he will “stop trying to be someone [else], stop trying to please people and just go out there and be me.

** The Brewers have paid a lot of attention to center field this winter, Tom Haudricourt writes for Baseball America. In the immediate term, the organization will hold “an open competition,” per GM David Stearns, with veterans Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Eric Young Jr. looking to hold off youngsters Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton.

Cubs

** The Cubs have agreed to a $10.7MM deal with righty Jake Arrieta to avoid arbitration, Jay Cohen of the Associated Press (Twitter link).

** RHP Jonathan Pettibone has signed a minor league pact with the Cubs and received an invitation to MLB camp. The 25-year-old contributed 100 1/3 solid innings as a starter for the 2013 Phillies, registering a 4.04 ERA with 5.9 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9.

** The Cubs and left-handed reliever Nick Greenwood have agreed to a minor league contract, MLBTR has learned. The Cubs and infielder Munenori Kawasaki have agreed to a minor league contract, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).

Twins

** The Twins have agreed to a minor league contract with outfielder Carlos Quentin, according to Jon Heyman (Twitter links). He’ll receive an invitation to MLB camp, per Heyman, and would earn $750K if he makes the MLB roster

** Twins manager Paul Molitor sat down with Darren Wolfson of KSTP and 1500 ESPN over the weekend for a 12-minute interview (video link) and discussed a number of topics, including the decision to play Miguel Sano in right field over left field, the possibility of Byron Buxton making the Opening Day roster.

** Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe seemed a plausible trade piece, but we never heard much buzz on that front. Minnesota GM Terry Ryan tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (Twitter link) that the club did not consider scenarios for a deal — let alone make Plouffe available to other clubs.

White Sox

** The White Sox have explored the possibility of a trade for Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, according to a pair of reports from MLB.com’s Phil Rogers (Twitter link) and Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago/670thescore.com.

** Frank Thomas is rejoining the White Sox as a special consultant of business operations, the Hall-of-Famer told reporters (including CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes).

** The White Sox have re-signed righty Maikel Cleto and added outfielder Vinny Rottino, according to Baseball America’s Matt Eddy.

What’s Ahead

The White Sox will start spring training first, with pitchers and catchers reporting on Feb. 18. The Brewers and Cubs start Feb. 19. The Twins kick it off on Feb. 21.

The MDR Blog will start appearing next weekend on a weekly basis. Next week, we will look at what each of the four teams covered by the site will be looking to accomplish at Arizona and Florida.

Although no baseball player will be inducted, the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame is holding some ticker specials for its April 30 induction of Bo Ryan and Donald Driver. For a great OnMilwaukee.com story on the revival of the Hall, click here http://onmilwaukee.com/sports/articles/wisconsinhalloffame.html.

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