04/12/10 6:37 PM ET
Fielder's temper takes national stage
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
Hart finds swing that's working for him
CHICAGO -- Corey Hart figures he's tried at least two dozen tweaks to his swing since the start of his spring slump. It appears that he finally found one that worked.On the day the Brewers broke Spring Training camp in Arizona, hitting coach Dale Sveum suggested that Hart alter the position of his hands and something clicked for the right-handed hitter, who batted .123 in the Cactus League with only one hit in his final 29 Arizona at-bats. Hart had two hits in each of the Brewers' two Miller Park exhibition games against the Tigers, and he rode a pair of regular-season multiple-hit games and a .400 batting average into Monday's Wrigley Field opener. "We tried something new with my hands, and it set everything else up," Hart said. "You wish it was there right out of the gate [at the start of Spring Training], but what can you do? "Dale is great about things like that. He knows I'm a guy who likes to try a lot of different things when it's not going well, so he always comes to you with something different. We tried a lot of different things before finding something to make it feel better. It's a little thing that people probably don't even notice, but it feels much different." Hart's two-hit night Sunday included a home run off Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter. It earned Hart a start on Monday against Chicago's Ryan Dempster, despite Hart going 2-for-23 against Dempster in the past. "The matchup does not dictate him being in the lineup, but that was as good as I've seen him swing since I've been here, including Spring Training last year when he was hot," manager Ken Macha said. "Those were some good cuts." And that's very good to see for Sveum, who is in his second season as Milwaukee's hitting coach. "If Corey is swinging like he's swinging the past few days, we have a very difficult lineup to pitch to," Sveum said. "Let's face it: You win with home runs now. If Corey's confidence level is high, he's a pretty special hitter."
Boras makes rare comments on Fielder
CHICAGO -- Scott Boras, the agent for Prince Fielder, has not returned telephone messages from MLB.com over the past few months seeking comment about his talks with the Brewers on a contract extension for the slugger. But he did speak on Sunday night with SI.com's Jon Heyman and already is trying to establish a framework for Fielder's value.
"When you evaluate players at the Major League level, those who have done certain things by age 25 are extraordinary, and two of those things are 40 home runs and 125 RBIs. You certainly can count the number of players who have done that," Boras said. "Extraordinary performance at a young age gives you totally different career indices."
According to baseball-reference.com, there are only 24 seasons in Major League history in which a player who was 25 years or younger -- as of June 30 -- reached 40 home runs and 125 RBIs. Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Bench, Jimmie Foxx and Chuck Klein own two apiece, and of that group only A-Rod is not yet in the Hall of Fame. The 15 others besides Fielder to have accomplished the feat once are Mark Teixeira, Vladimir Guerrero, Frank Thomas, Jim Rice, Orlando Cepeda, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Eddie Matthews, Ralph Kiner, Joe DiMaggio, Hal Trosky, Mel Ott, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. All but Teixeira, Guerrero, Thomas, who becomes eligible for induction in 2014, and Trosky are in the Hall of Fame.
Heyman wrote that "one person familiar with the talks suggested the eight-year contracts of Mark Teixeira and Joe Mauer for $180 million and $184 million, respectively, are viewed by Fielder's people as mere starting points. And another person familiar with the talks suggested Fielder is seeking about $200 million over eight years, which would represent the biggest contract in the non-Rodriguez category and only $23 million less than [principal owner Mark Attanasio paid for the Brewers in 2004.]"
Attanasio and Brewers general manager Doug Melvin have declined to offer details about their discussions with Boras about Fielder.
Hoffman a bit rusty?
CHICAGO -- Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman is off to a forgettable start to the 2010 season, with two blown saves over the weekend. It's prompted some to wonder aloud whether an abbreviated Spring Training regimen left the all-time saves leader a bit rusty.Hoffman made only four appearances in Cactus League games, each spanning one inning. He didn't debut until three weeks into the spring schedule -- a plan to avoid a setback like the rib-cage injury that sent Hoffman to the disabled list to start the 2009 season. But might he have sacrificed some early-season sharpness in the interest of caution? No, Hoffman insisted. "I feel great," he said late Sunday night. "I couldn't be happier with how my arm has felt and bounced back. It's just one of those things." "Maybe he's feeling a little too frisky," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "Maybe when you're out there and you're feeling really good about your fastball, you throw too many of them." Hoffman surrendered two home runs on Sunday, both on fastballs. Albert Pujols' two-run homer cut the Brewers' lead to one, and Matt Holliday tied the contest when he hammed another fastball to center field for a game-tying solo shot. The debate among Brewers fans on Monday was how bad things would have to get for Macha to consider using someone else in the closer's role. That wasn't a scenario the manager would even consider. "Goodness," Macha said, "he blew two saves. ... I'm sure as a closer, he's gone through this before. I'll get him back in there today if he says he's OK."
CHICAGO -- Jeff Suppan, on the 15-day disabled list with a neck injury, played catch again on Monday and remains the Brewers' scheduled starter for Thursday against the Cubs. The Brewers will have to make a roster move to clear a 25-man roster spot for Suppan, but manager Ken Macha offered no clues on Monday. ... Macha made sure to chat with center fielder Carlos Gomez on Monday morning. Gomez, 1-for-16 since his four-hit Opening Day, was out of the lineup for the second consecutive day, but Macha's message was, 'Don't panic.'" ... Macha has employed a different lineup in all seven games this season.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.