7/21/2014 9:30 P.M. ET
Lara pays first visit to Miller Park
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Gilbert Lara attended his first Major League Baseball game on Monday. The Brewers hope it's the first of many.
Lara, the 16-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic who signed a record-breaking contract earlier this month, visited Miller Park for the first time and took a round of batting practice. It was general manager Doug Melvin's first look at a player in whom the Brewers have invested $3.1 million, nearly four times more than any other international signee in franchise history.
"Impact bat," Melvin said. "He's 16 years old, coming in here and hitting balls into the second deck. The last round, he said, 'I'm going to go to right field,' and he started hitting line drives to right field."
Zack Minasian, the Brewers' pro scouting director, and special assistant Craig Counsell were among the club officials who looked at Lara in January, when the Brewers emerged as clear favorites to formally land him at the opening of the international signing period on July 2.
Lara was the fourth-best prospect available per MLB.com's rankings.
Because of his age, Lara will not be eligible for the Dominican Summer League until next season, but Melvin suggested that he may be advanced enough to skip that level entirely. The Brewers will make that determination after evaluating him in their instructional leagues -- in Arizona this fall, followed by a similar program in the Dominican Republic over the winter.
Lara was wide-eyed at Miller Park.
"I feel really good to be sitting in a big league stadium with big league players," he said, with Eduardo Brizuela, the team's director of Latin American operations, serving as translator.
Lara wants to stay at shortstop, though some have speculated that as his 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame continues to fill out, he could wind up at third base. Melvin compared his frame with younger versions of Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rios and Juan Gonzalez.
Lara said that he models his game after Rodriguez's.
"He's a very humble young boy," Brizuela said. "He carries himself very well. He comes from a good family, and his trainer, Jaime Ramos, is one of the big agents down in the Dominican Republic. He's a guy that has trained him very well and has shown him how important family is and how you work hard to get where you want to be."
That process formally began on Monday.
"I'm hiding a little bit of my emotion," Lara said. "I'm really happy to be here right now, really excited to be here."
Before Lara, the richest international bonuses in Brewers history went to shortstop Franly Mallen and outfielder Nicolas Pierre, each of whom signed for $800,000 last year. Before that the record was the $750,000, given to pitcher Rolando Pascual in 2005 during a period in which the Brewers closed their Latin American academy and focused on signing fewer but higher-profile players.
Miller Park ready for game after restaurant fire
MILWAUKEE -- An overnight kitchen fire at one of the restaurants at Miller Park has left some parts of the ballpark damaged, but the team says "most of the operations and fan accommodations were back to normal" in time for Monday night's game against the Reds.
The fire began at around 2 a.m. CT Monday in the kitchen of Friday's Front Row Sports Grill, according to The Associated Press. It spread through a few of the nearby ducts, but was put out before any injuries or extensive damage occurred.
A few areas that sustained water damage will not be operational until further notice. They include: Friday's Restaurant, the escalators and elevators in the left-field area, the left-field loge concession stand and the Miller Park Conference Center Meeting Rooms on the club and terrace levels.
According to the team release, fans who have tickets in the Friday's seating area will be contacted by the Brewers for alternate seating options.
• The Brewers moved reliever Jim Henderson to the 60-day disabled list on Monday to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for newly promoted right-hander Jeremy Jeffress, but that had no impact on Henderson's potential return to action, because he has already served more than 60 days on the DL. His rehab assignment was recently advanced to Triple-A Nashville.
• Manager Ron Roenicke was impressed by the work of Michael Boettcher and the Miller Park grounds crew, which rebuilt the pitcher's mound and the infield dirt after a soccer exhibition during the All-Star break.
"I don't see any signs of having a soccer game out there," Roenicke said.