MILWAUKEE -- Mat Gamel took a big step forward in his rehabilitation from a right knee injury when he began hitting off a tee on Friday.It marked Gamel's first chance to hit since he tore his ACL chasing a ball in foul ground at San Diego on May 1. If his rehab continues at its current positive pace, there is a chance Gamel could play in the Arizona Fall League. The Brewers would need an exemption for Gamel, who owns Major League service in excess of the usual AFL standards. And he would have to be healthy enough to play. "If I can't play, I can't play," he said. "I don't want to rush myself back to play in those games and get hurt because I wasn't ready. But if I'm ready, I definitely want to get at-bats. I just don't want to force it." If he is not quite ready in time for the AFL, which begins its 20th season on Oct 9, then Gamel would consider playing in the Dominican Republic for the second consecutive winter. As to what position he will play, that remains in question. The Brewers moved Corey Hart to first base in the wake of Gamel's injury with great success, and Hart may remain there next season. "Wherever they want me to play, wherever they tell me to play, is where I'll play," he said. "Whatever helps my chances to be on this club next year."
Brewers play it safe with Rogers, cut season short
MILWAUKEE -- It's official: Brewers right-hander Mark Rogers has made the final start of a successful bounce-back season.Club officials informed Rogers on Saturday afternoon they were shutting him down, a preemptive move meant to protect Rogers' surgically-repaired right arm from injury after he pushed into uncharted innings territory this season. In 25 starts between Triple-A Nashville and Milwaukee, including Friday's win over the Pirates, Rogers was 9-7 with a 4.49 ERA. He worked only 44 1/3 innings in a 2011 season cut short by a wrist injury, as well as a suspension that stemmed from a tainted supplement. "I kind of expected it, but at the same time, I still want to be pitching," Rogers said. "I think if I didn't want to keep pitching, that would be a problem. I still feel very good, I'm competitive, and things are going well right now. Obviously you want to take the ball every five days, especially because I don't feel like we're out of it right now. We're right there. "Then again, there's a lot of people smarter than me making that decision. I've been down the injury road before. That is the very last thing I want to happen, so it's nice to go into the offseason being able to say I am 100 percent healthy." He allowed one Pirates run in 5 1/3 innings on Friday night to win his third consecutive start. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was reluctant to make Rogers' shut-down official after the game because the organization's decision had not yet been communicated to the player himself. Rogers, 26, will remain active with the Brewers throughout September, but barring an emergency pinch-hit appearance, he is very unlikely to play. Roenicke, pitching coach Rick Kranitz, general manager Doug Melvin and assistant GM Gord Ash met with Rogers and billed the decision as a positive. "Frankly, if I still had question marks about him, or Doug still had question marks about him, he would probably pitch again a few more times to really get a feel on, 'Can he pitch here,'" Roenicke said. But Rogers has already answered that question, Roenicke said, so the Brewers will promote a pitcher following Nashville's season finale on Monday to replace Rogers. Roenicke declined to name names, but it will probably be Wily Peralta, who also pitched Friday and could easily slide into Rogers' spot beginning Wednesday in Miami. Peralta made his Major League debut in relief on April 22, but has yet to make his first big league start. At some point later in the month, the Brewers are expected to insert another prospect, Tyler Thornburg, into the rotation. Rogers will have a front row seat for the rest of the season. "I'll try to make the most of this time that I have here, because it is valuable time," he said.
Melvin still irked by September callups
MILWAUKEE -- For veteran Brewers GM Doug Melvin, Sept. 1 is the anti-Christmas -- his least favorite day of the year.Melvin has long argued against the current system of September callups, which he says creates imbalance during the most important stretch of the season. After playing most of the season with a limit of 25 active players, teams are free beginning Sept. 1 to promote any member of the 40-man roster to the Majors. Why does it make sense, Melvin has argued for years, to play five months of games under one set of rules, then change them when the games count most in September? Beyond that, callups can disrupt clubhouse chemistry and create the potential for parades of relievers extending long games. "It bothers me," Melvin said. In deference to Triple-A Nashville, which plays through Monday, the Brewers will wait until Tuesday to make their callups. So they had 25 players in uniform on Saturday against a 30-man Pirates squad. Melvin has tried to convince fellow general managers to pursue changes to the rules, and said he has gained traction in recent years. Melvin's best proposal calls for allowing teams as many callups as they wish, but requiring them to designate a certain number of active players each day. Changes to the September callup procedure were discussed briefly during negotiation of the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, said Craig Counsell, who played a key role in those talks as a member of the Major League Baseball Players Association's executive board. "I remember that it was discussed, but then it went away," said Counsell, who took a job in the Brewers' front office last winter. "It was just not an issue they wanted to spend time on because there was not a lot of common ground." Counsell declined to take a stance on the matter.
No clubs expressed interest in right-hander Shaun Marcum before Friday's deadline for contending teams to trade for players and have them eligible for postseason play. Manager Ron Roenicke hinted that trades are still possible in September.For that to be true, Marcum would have had to clear waivers. Melvin declined to say whether Marcum had cleared, citing MLB rules. Outfielder Norichika Aoki missed a second straight start with a stiff neck, suffered in a collision with Nyjer Morgan at Wrigley Field on Thursday. "He's still a little sore, but he's fine," Roenicke said of Aoki. "He'll be able to pinch-hit tonight if we need him, which is encouraging. Hopefully we get him back in there [on Sunday]."