We did it! Another milestone along the way to Opening Day has been reached and passed. We’re officially inside 30 days. Just 29 days remain until April 6 when Miller Park springs back to life. I can almost smell the tailgating.
As we continue to wind our way through “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers”, we’ve reached #29 and as such have reached…
Tyler Thornburg Jim Henderson.
Does that open feel familiar? It should because it’s basically yesterday’s. There’s a reason for it. Jim Henderson and Tyler Thornburg had many similarities in the 2014 seasons — or more accurately how they came to an end — that it made me feel like I could take my Thornburg piece, change a few of the specifics, and have it work for Henderson just as well.
For example, both men started Spring Training with the idea that they would be key contributors to the bullpen in 2014, but Henderson the closer and Thornburg in middle relief. The seasons for both players ended early because of injured throwing arms but Thornburg was elbow and Henderson was shoulder. Both players had medical procedures to aid in healing, but Henderson was a labrum and rotator cuff “clean up” and Thornburg was a PRP injection. Both players started throwing shortly before camp to test their arms and both started camp healthy although possibly limited.
It’s coincidence that they are back-to-back in the countdown, but the similarities are undeniable. Still, there are enough differences to highlight.
As mentioned, Henderson was originally slated to be Ron Roenicke’s closer in 2014. He had taken over the job in 2013 following the early season implosion of John Axford, and had done a fine job converting 28 of 32 save opportunities and pitching to a 2.70 ERA across 60.0 innings in 61 appearances.
Over the years, the Brewers have been wont to stick with a closer as long as he is effective due to the cost associated with any relief pitchers who perform well in that role over a long period of time. The Brewers have been good about finding guys to fill the job for as long as they are physically able and then moving on.
They hope that Henderson isn’t simply a short-term solution that was but the fact remains that he didn’t make his MLB debut until nearly age 30 for a reason. He relies on fastball velocity and off-speed command because if hitters can sit on a slower fastball, he’ll get hammered. That was evident in 2014 as Henderson had bouts with shoulder inflammation in between spurts of having his 95 MPH heater.
Eventually though, Henderson would succumb to the injury. He actually pitched longer than Thornburg did last year, but it came on a pair of failed rehab assignments in the minor leagues where Henderson could never quite get past the weakness caused by the damaged shoulder.
In full, Henderson appeared in 14 big league games last year and posted a 7.15 ERA in 14.1 innings pitched. He allowed three home runs in his limited time though he still managed to strikeout 17 hitters. The rest of his rates stats were terrible though as he wasn’t physically capable of pitching his game.
Reportedly healthy now, Henderson is taking things slowly with a target of being ready by Opening Day. (If he isn’t, that’s fine because the Brewers have options and once Henderson is ready he can come in as a fresh arm booster shot.) In his first Cactus League game this year though…
…so we’ll have to see how things progress.
Luckily for all involved, 29 days is still plenty of time for Henderson to get his work in so that all the decision makers will have enough information eventually.
If the big right-handed Canadian can contribute to the 2015 Brewers, it’ll be a welcome inclusion.
Catch up on the countdown!
- #30 – Tyler Thornburg
- #35 – Dontrelle Willis
- #38 – Wily Peralta
- #40 – Johnny Hellweg
- #46 – Corey Knebel
- #47 – Rob Wooten
- #48 – Neal Cotts
- #50 – Mike Fiers
- #51 – Jonathan Broxton
- #52 – Jimmy Nelson
- #53 – Brandon Kintzler
- #54 – Michael Blazek
- #58 – Wei-Chung Wang
- #60 – Matt Clark
- #62 – Luis Sardiñas
- #63 – Brooks Hall
- #64 – Shane Peterson
- #65 – Yadiel Rivera
- #66 – Juan Centeno
- #67 – Nevin Ashley
- #68 – Ariel Peña
- #70-#75 – Matt Long, Adam Weisenburger, Cameron Garfield, Taylor Williams, Hobbs Johnson, Tyler Cravy
- #76 – Mike Strong
- #77 – David Goforth
- #78 – Taylor Jungmann
We got a boatload of information in tweet form and in longer-form pieces from the Brewers beat writers fortunate enough to already be down at Spring Training covering the Brewers as camp opened up over the weekend.
Here’s a compilation of what you might have missed if you weren’t paying attention.
P&C weekend began with Brewers.com’s Adam McCalvy reminding us just how beautiful green baseball fields are.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) February 20, 2015
Then the information started coming. We learned that Tyler Thornburg, less than a week removed from being labeled as hopefully a “viable candidate” for the bullpen by Asst. GM Gord Ash, was expecting to open camp with no restrictions.
From there, McCalvy talked to Jonathan Lucroy about the All-Star’s expected workload this spring.
The Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak also spoke to Lucroy along with Kyle Lohse after the Friday morning announcement about the changes related to the game’s perceived “pace of play” issues.
Tom Haudricourt posted a series of tweets with a quote from the talkative Lohse regarding the team’s collapse. Lohse had said at Brewers On Deck that he would talk to his teammates about it when they got to Maryvale and then move on.
Lohse as transcribed by Haudricourt: “Hopefully we have a group of guys that are pissed off about way things ended.”
Lohse: “We had an excellent 4 ½ months. I’m pissed. You don’t get that many opportunities to get to the playoffs.”
Lohse: “When you have it that close, it should help drive you. Let’s learn from it and not let that happen again.”
The official Twitter account of the Brewers Player Development staff got in on the news making by dropping this tweet on Friday.
The Brewers have signed IF Donnie Murphy and C Beau Bishop to minor league contracts.
— Brewers Player Dev (@BrewersPD) February 20, 2015
But of course, we already knew about half of that the night before. (h/t @Mass_Haas)
Day Two of camp opened with some news about a potential #7 starter in the person of Michael Blazek.
Michael Blazek will stretch out as a starter this spring. He’s another “sixth starter” candidate with Jungmann for #Brewers.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) February 21, 2015
Speaking of starting pitchers, Rosiak told us that Johnny Hellweg, just 9.5 months removed from Tommy John surgery, is throwing off a mound and should be in games before April.
Johnny Hellweg, 9 1/2 months removed from TJ surgery, should be pitching in games by end of camp. — Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) February 21, 2015
Rosiak also talked to Ash about Thornburg and Jim Henderson.
Jim Henderson and Tyler Thornburg are both throwing well already. They’ll be protected early, Ash said, but all signs are encouraging.
— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) February 21, 2015
Haudricourt checked back in on Twitter with a reminder about the backup corner infielder spot.
As for the back-end of the bullpen? Well, at least for now…
While Jonathan Broxton is the most likely candidate for the role, Brewers will hold off until probably mid-camp in naming their closer.
— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) February 21, 2015
Ron Roenicke spoke with reporters. Todd Rosiak tweeted that the hot corner could have more games started by not Aramis Ramirez than in years past.
Roenicke acknowledged that giving Ramirez more days off this upcoming season might be way to go in order to get the most out of him.
— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) February 21, 2015
Adam McCalvy worked his beat hard on Saturday, and on Sunday we saw the results of some of his efforts. Included among them was this conversation with Dontrelle Willis, who is aiming to make the Brewers on a minor league deal.
From outside the Brewers beat, FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal checked in with this Sunday evening tidbit.
And this clarification…
Here is a boatload of audio recorded on Sunday, January 25, 2015 at Brewers On Deck in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Right fielder Ryan Braun
Relief pitcher Jim Henderson
Manager Ron Roenicke
New Brewers first baseman Adam Lind
Starting pitcher Wily Peralta
Newest member of the starting rotation Jimmy Nelson
All-Star outfielder Carlos Gomez
Second baseman Scooter Gennett
All-Star starting catcher Jonathan Lucroy
General Manager Doug Melvin met with the assembled media
EXCLUSIVE with 40-man pitcher Michael Blazek
Prinicpal Owner Mark Attanasio addressed the media
This is the full audio from one of the Main Stage events, a panel discussion (with fan questions!) featuring Mark Attanasio, Doug Melvin, Gord Ash, Adam Lind, Corey Knebel, and Luis Sardinas
BREWERS ON DECK TO INCLUDE OVER 50 PLAYERS, COACHES, BROADCASTERS & ALUMNI
Event to Feature Community Book Drive; Food Donations Accepted through Hunger Task Force
Nearly 50 Milwaukee Brewers players plus a host of alumni, coaches, front office executives and broadcasters are scheduled to participate in Brewers On Deck, which is set to take place on Sunday, January 25 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Wisconsin Center.
Advance tickets are $15 for adults and $9 for children 14 and under. Tickets on the day of the event are $20 for adults and $15 for children 14 and under. A portion of the proceeds from Brewers On Deck will benefit Brewers Community Foundation. Tickets may be purchased at the Miller Park ticket office, by calling the Brewers ticket office at 414-902-4000, or online at brewers.com/ondeck.
This year the event will feature a community book drive that will help support Next Door’s Books for Kids program. The goal of the Books for Kids campaign is to help all children in Milwaukee’s central city, regardless of their family income or education levels, have books they can call their own. Local author Marla McKenna will help host the event. Fans are encouraged to bring new or gently used children’s books to donate. In appreciation for their contribution, fans who donate a book will receive a free copy of McKenna’s newest publication, “Mom’s Big Catch,” a story based upon events that took place at Miller Park.
Once again food donations will be accepted through Hunger Task. Donations can be dropped off at two main entrances to the Wisconsin Center, located at 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, and 4th Street and Wells Street.
Players, coaches and alumni scheduled to attend include (all subject to change):
- Michael Blazek
- Ryan Braun
- Juan Centeno
- Matt Clark
- Clint Coulter
- Khris Davis
- Mike Fiers
- Scooter Gennett
- David Goforth
- Carlos Gomez
- Hector Gomez
- Brooks Hall
- Jim Henderson
- Jeremy Jeffress
- Taylor Jungmann
- Brandon Kintzler
- Corey Knebel (just added)
- Adam Lind
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Kyle Lohse
- Jimmy Nelson
- Gerardo Parra
- Wily Peralta
- Shane Peterson
- Jason Rogers
- Luis Sardiñas (just added)
- Logan Schafer
- Will Smith
- Michael Strong
- Tyler Thornburg
- Rob Wooten
- Darnell Coles (Hitting Coach)
- Joe Crawford (Video/Scouting)
- Matt Erickson (Timber Rattlers Mgr.)
- Mike Guerrero (1st Base Coach)
- Marcus Hanel (Bullpen Catcher)
- Rick Kranitz (Pitching Coach)
- Jerry Narron (Bench Coach)
- Ron Roenicke (Manager)
- Ed Sedar (3rd Base Coach)
- John Shelby (Outfield Coach)
- Lee Tunnell (Bullpen Coach)
- Jerry Augustine
- Cecil Cooper
- Craig Counsell
- Rob Deer
- Jim Gantner
- Larry Hisle
Brewers On Deck will feature a number of activities for the entire family. Autographs and photos from Brewers players, coaches and alumni; interactive games in the Kids Area; Q&A sessions and game shows with Brewers players, coaches and broadcasters; vendor booths with baseball memorabilia; Brewers Community Foundation’s Treasure Hunt, a 50/50 raffle, live auction and many other activities will all be a part of Brewers On Deck.
Details regarding autographs include the following: Recipients of “PREMIER” autographs (players to be announced next week) will be chosen through a random selection process. Each fan in attendance will receive one Premier Entry sheet which may be redeemed at the Random Selection area outside the Main Exhibit Hall of the Wisconsin Center District. The Premier Entry sheet will be exchanged for a numbered coupon to be entered into the random selection process for any one of the select Brewers players. Coupon distribution will be available at 8 a.m. the day of the event and will continue up to an hour before each designated autograph session. There is no cost for coupons to enter the random selection process; however, those holding winning coupons must pay $10 at the respective autograph stage to collect their player signature. There will be 250 winners for each of the autograph sessions. The winning ticket numbers will be posted at the designated autograph stage no less than 30 minutes prior to each player’s session.
Players and staff not included in the PREMIER autograph list will not use the random selection process. Each of these players will sign 250 autographs at prices ranging from free to $10. A schedule of players, their session times, and distribution info will be posted next week. The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team; the Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia. For additional information, visit Brewers.com/ondeck.
Autograph proceeds benefit Brewers Community Foundation. Please note that cash is the only acceptable form of payment for autographs. The Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia, and personalization of items is solely up to the discretion of each player.
A detailed schedule of all Brewers On Deck events will be released next week.
***UPDATE! Here is the schedule…***
Recipients of “PREMIER” autographs Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy and Bob Uecker will be chosen through a random selection process. Each fan in attendance will receive one Premier Entry card which may be redeemed at the Random Selection area outside the Main Exhibit Hall of the Wisconsin Center. The Premier Entry card will be exchanged for a numbered coupon and entered into the random selection process for any one of the select Brewers players. Coupon distribution will be available at 8 a.m. the day of the event and will continue up to an hour before each designated autograph session.
There is no cost for coupons to enter the random selection process; however, those holding winning coupons must pay $10 at the respective autograph stage to collect their player signature. There will be 250 winners for each of the autograph sessions. The winning ticket numbers will be posted at the designated autograph stage no less than 30 minutes prior to each player’s session. A schedule is listed below:
PREMIER AUTOGRAPH SCHEDULE
Player Signing Time Stage
Bob Uecker 12:30 – 1:15 5
Ryan Braun 1:00 – 1:45 6
Jonathan Lucroy 2:30 – 3:15 3
Carlos Gomez 3:00 – 3:45 1
Players and staff not included in the above autograph list will not use the random selection process. Each of those players will sign 250 autographs at prices ranging from free to $10.
The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team; the Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia, and personalization of items is solely up to the discretion of each player (BOLD ITALICS – Premier Autograph).
Autograph Schedule – MAIN STAGES
10:30 – 11:15 Scooter Gennett ($10)
12:00 – 12:45 Logan Schafer ($10)
1:30 – 2:15 Mike Fiers ($10)
3:00 – 3:45 Carlos Gomez ($10)
12:30 – 1:15 Jim Henderson ($10)
2:00 – 2:45 Gerardo Parra ($10)
3:30 – 4:15 Will Smith ($10)
11:30 – 12:15 Adam Lind ($10)
2:30 – 3:15 Jonathan Lucroy ($10)
3:45 – 4:30 Wily Peralta ($10)
10:30 – 11:15 Brandon Kintzler ($10)
12:00 – 12:45 Rob Wooten ($10)
1:30 – 2:15 Khris Davis ($10)
11:00 – 11:45 Jimmy Nelson ($10)
12:30 – 1:15 Bob Uecker ($10)/Mark Attanasio ($0)
3:30 – 4:15 Jeremy Jeffress ($10)
11:30 – 12:15 Tyler Thornburg ($10)
1:00 – 1:45 Ryan Braun ($10)
3:45 – 4:30 Kyle Lohse ($10)
Players who are not listed above will sign free autographs on the Bonus Stage all day long.
Please note that cash is the only acceptable form of payment for autographs.
The 620 WTMJ Stage will broadcast live from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and will include interviews with Brewers players and coaches.
New this year, fans are invited to stop by the Social Media Stage for fun and games. Fans can also post their photos from the event to Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtag #BrewersOnDeck for a chance to win prizes such as a trip down Bernie Brewer’s slide, game tickets and more. For contest rules, visit brewers.com/onDeck.
Children are invited to visit the Farm Teams Infield for free batting and hitting clinics scheduled throughout the day. Brewers alumni and players will be on hand for the instructional sessions. Kids can run around the field or try a quick game of ping pong with Brewers players.
Klement’s Main Stage Schedule
10:15 a.m. – Welcome – Brewers television broadcaster Craig Coshun will welcome fans to Brewers On Deck. The winners of the seven T-Shirt Friday designs will be introduced to fans.
11:15 a.m. – Meet the Coaches – Third base coach Ed Sedar will host a Q&A session with Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and his coaching staff.
12:30 p.m. – The Brewlywed Game – Brewers players, coaches, prospects and alumni will participate in a game show to see which pair really knows each other the best. Joe Block will host the show.
2:00 p.m. – Meet the Management and Newest Players – Brewers Chairman and Principal Owner Mark Attanasio, President of Baseball Operations – General Manager Doug Melvin, Vice President – Assistant General Manager Gord Ash will join the newest Brewers acquisitions – Corey Knebel, Adam Lind and Luis Sardinas – in a question and answer session with Brewers fans. The session will be hosted by Brian Anderson.
3:15 p.m. – Call to the Pen – Brewers players, coaches, prospects and alumni will participate in a game show, similar to Pictionary. Joe Block will host the show.
My annual countdown to Opening Day will return for another season!
There has been some decent 40-man roster turnover since Spring Training. I mark the passage of time from (roughly) the turn of the calendar until Brewers Opening Day by previewing players who wear a certain uniform number on the corresponding day.
We’re 98 days away from Opening Day, so we won’t get underway on this thing quite yet, but once the countdown coincides with a jersey, you’ll see the first column go up.
I call the series “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” and it works a little something like this:
- Opening Day is April 6, 2015.
- March 29th is eight days before April 6th.
- Ryan Braun wears number 8 on his jersey.
- I’ll write an article reviewing Ryan Braun’s 2014 and looking ahead to his 2015 and post it on March 29, 2015.
Make sense? Here’s another example:
- Jonathan Broxton wears number 51.
- 51 days before April 6th is February 14th.
- I’ll post my Broxton column on February 14th.
I do a column on every player who is on the Brewers 40-man roster along with most Spring Training non-roster invitees. I’ll update this space with a full schedule once the uniform numbers for the newest 40-man additions are announced. I’ll update it again as non-roster invitees are revealed.
Thanks for reading and sticking with me this winter. BBtJN is a very popular series and I thank you for that. Stay tuned!
In the sequel to the pre-All-Star break roster shuffle, the Milwaukee Brewers today announced that they have made a move in an attempt to bolster the big league bullpen.
The move required both a 25-man roster spot as well as a 40-man roster spot. To facilitate those moves, RHP Rob Wooten was optioned to Triple-A Nashville (25-man) and rehabbing right-hander Jim Henderson was placed on the 60-day disabled list (40-man).
All this was done so that the Brewers could select the contract of RHP Jeremy Jeffress.
Jeffress was made headlines more than once in Milwaukee. He was a part of the package of prospects sent to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Zack Greinke. Earlier this season, he chose to re-sign with the Brewers organization after being designated for assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays and electing free agency after clearing waivers. He also was almost out of baseball completely during his first turn in Milwaukee’s system as he was suspended more than once for marijuana use. By multiple accounts, he’s clear of that recreational drug use though, but is now back on a 40-man roster anyway.
Much more importantly than his off-the-field history is his on-the-field production so far in 2014. In other words, there’s a much better reason that he was added to the 40-man roster this time around.
While pitching for Nashville this season, the former first-round draft pick of the Brewers (16th overall in 2006) has posted the following line:
30 G, 1.51 ERA, 41.2 IP, 0 HR, 45 K, 18 BB, 1.224 WHIP
That’s good for a 9.7 K/9 and a 2.50 K/BB, but it’s also worth noting that he’s been even better recently. Jeffress hasn’t given up a run since June 23rd, a span of nine appearances. He’s only given up two runs in his last 15 games and just three total in his last 24 trips to the mound.
Jeffress has always brought the gas on his fastball, but it will be his ability to command his breaking ball that will translate to big league success. He’s shown the other sought-after ability to miss bats at multiple levels as well, something which would serve him and his new team very well moving forward for the balance of 2014.
As for the others involved, Wooten hasn’t been bad and will likely be back up in September if not sooner. In fact, by effectiveness, Brandon Kintzler may have been a better candidate to go down, but Wooten’s option year is already burned and that likely played a part in the decision.
For Jim Henderson, this must be seen as a referendum on where he’s at physically. Recent reports show him lagging behind the needed 97 MPH on his fastball. I haven’t seen any recent accounts of his slider command nor how his “work-in-progress” change up have fared since he got back on the mound, but without the heat I’m not sure the other pitches matter a lot. The timing doesn’t make much difference on his being moved to the 60-day DL though (he’s already spent more than 60 days on the DL having been placed on it on May 2nd), so maybe everything is progressing fine, but you normally wouldn’t make the move with a guy set to return any time soon.
Time will tell, I suppose.
Quick updates to make sure that you’re up to speed on where some players are at.
Gallardo Sprains Ankle, Next Start in Doubt
Yovani Gallardo sprained his left ankle yesterday in the 4th inning of a game he would eventually take the loss in against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday evening. (Vine video: http://vine.co/v/MHtBltPtL5D )
After the game, manager Ron Roenicke suggested that the team veteran might not make his next start and would almost certainly have to push his bullpen session back a day at the very least. Gallardo tried to argue his way into staying in the game but Roenicke (and the team’s head Athletic Trainer Dan Wright) made the correct call to get Gallardo out of the game right away. After all, as Roenicke pointed out during postgame, you don’t want a cascade injury to his arm because he’s altering his mechanics to compensate for the pain.
X-rays were negative for a fracture though, so even if Gallardo misses one start, it could be a circumstance where the Brewers avoid having to place him on the Disabled List.
Henderson Set to Begin Rehab Assignment
It was reported (and later officially announced) that relief pitcher Jim Henderson would begin a rehab assignment with the Class-AA Huntsville Stars. The Brewers expect Henderson to make at least three appearances in the minor leagues before determining whether he’s ready to be activated.
Henderson was originally placed on the 15-day DL with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. In his last appearance (May 1 at Cincinnati), Henderson had a noticable lack of control and a telltale drop in velocity. That led to his getting knocked around badly (0.2 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 5 ER, 1 HR) resulting in a season ERA spike from 3.38 to 7.15. He was disabled quickly after the game and it was revealed early on that they wouldn’t rush the big right-hander back before he was 100% healthy.
The reason that Henderson is beginning his rehab assignment with Huntsville is because Tom Gorzelanny will be continuing his with the Class-AAA Nashville Sounds and GM Doug Melvin didn’t want them on the same roster. That’s likely to ensure that they both get into the games that they need.
In two appearances with the Class-A Advanced Brevard County Manatees, Gorzelanny totaled 4.0 innings pitched while allowing two hits and a walk. He struck out one of the 14 batters he faced. The numbers really don’t mean a ton either way because he’s still simply ramping up like he’s pitching in spring training, but good numbers are certainly better than poor ones. That he was able to pitching two innings in each outing is also an encouraging sign for Gorzelanny as he is rehabbing from off-season shoulder surgery.
Gorzelanny’s rehab assignment began May 14 and at the time we were told that the Brewers expected it to last the maximum 30 days. That puts Gorzelanny on schedule to possibly to return to the 25-man roster in time for a weekend series against the Reds in mid-June at Miller Park.
Ramirez Ready to Run?
When Aramis Ramirez (15-Day DL, hamstring strain) first was injured, he said he heard a pop and there was talk that this could be quite a bit longer than the minimum 15 day stay on the disabled list. Then while in Chicago for a chilly weekend series with the Cubs, the Brewers began saying that Ramirez, who had never had a hamstring injury to that point in his career, was pain-free walking and would likely attempt light running once the team got to Atlanta and were in warmer temperatures.
I haven’t seen any reports on whether he did or how it went if he did, but it still seems that returning on Memorial Day against the Baltimore Orioles is unlikely to occur. But stranger things have happened.