ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Drew Olson
A stray dog named "Hank" has captured hearts and minds at Brewers spring training camp.
By DREW OLSON
PHOENIX — Earlier this week, Detroit infielder Ian Kinsler sent a ripple through the baseball world when he referred to Texas general manager Jon Daniels — the man who traded him to the Tigers in exchange for Prince Fielder — as “a sleazeball” and expressed his hope that the Rangers go 0-162 during the season.
Kinsler’s statements, which he later claimed were taken out of contest in an ESPN The Magazine story, sent ripples through clubhouses throughout baseball and pointed out how quiet and uneventful Brewers camp has been for the first three weeks.
“We don’t have any of that controversial stuff,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. “That’s why we’ve got a dog.”
Melvin was referring to Hank the Ballpark Pup, a bichon frise-looking mutt who has become a fan favorite since wandering into camp as a stray and being “adopted” by the team.
In honor of Hank, who was named in honor of Hank Aaron, the Brewers are hosting “Pet Adoption Day” today at Maryvale Baseball Park, where they face Kansas City. The society will have animals available for adoption and Hank will pose with fans in exchange for a cash donation.
Hank, who has been going home with different club personnel throughout the spring, has drawn attention via social media and traditional outlets like USA Today and People Magazine. The response has been so overwhelming that officials from other teams have wondered whether the dog was a stunt.
“I’ve heard those theories,” said Caitlin Moyer, the Brewers’ director of new media. “People think we just rolled him around in the dirt.”
The Brewers, who are expecting a shipment of official Hank T-shirts before the end of camp, announced that the dog will come home with the team at the end of camp, but they haven’t revealed who will get custody.
That may be what serves as “controversy” for this spring.
A sunny, warm day at Maryvale Baseball Park... A tree beyond the outfield berm provides a little shade.
By DREW OLSON
PHOENIX -- Here is today's effort... A view from left field.
Brewers right-hander Matt Garza gave up two earned runs in three innings Friday at Maryvale Baseball Park.
By DREW OLSON
PHOENIX — Major-league hitters often refer to “controlled aggression” — the ability to attack good pitches and lay off bad ones — as a key to sustained success.
Matt Garza can relate.
The Milwaukee Brewers right-hander, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal roughly six weeks ago, approaches his mound work with an intensity that grabbed the attention of his new teammates early in camp at Maryvale Baseball Park.
Following his spring debut, a one-inning, four-runs-in-just-28-pitches affair Sunday against Colorado, Garza admitted being so excited that he had trouble sleeping the night before. He was a little more calm on Friday and — not surprisingly — the results were better, too.
"More in control, not less energy but more controlled energy," Garza said after allowing three runs (two earned) in the first three innings of an eventual 6-2 loss to San Diego.
"Like I said, the first time out is a lot more anxiety, a lot of excitement. I felt great today. Everything was in line and everything was under control, and I was able to throw strikes.”
Garza allowed six hits, including a solo homer by outfielder Alex Dickerson, but his line would have been more impressive if not for an error (Juan Francisco), a misplayed line drive (Elian Herrera), a botched cutoff relay and missed tag at home plate (Jonathan Lucroy).
“I thought he wasn’t rushing so far forward today,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said, adding that Garza pitched better than his results.
“He was a little more gathered and stayed back. He threw a lot of good pitches. (His) fastball was down well.
“I liked that he threw a lot of changeups.”
Garza, who threw only fastballs and changeups in his debut, stuck to that plan again Friday. Next week, he mix in curves and sliders as his pitch count rises to the 55-60 level.
“The first two (outings) are usually get my fastball under control,” he said. “With my mechanics, if I can spot my fastball, then my breaking balls are a lot easier to start locating.
“I know I can get guys with the slider and the curveball. Some days you don’t have that, and you have to pitch with what you have. There were times today where I wanted to throw a slider or drop a curveball in, but it’s that mentality to stay with [the plan] I want.”
Garza, who has a relatively quick delivery to home plate, picked speedy shortstop Everth Cabrera off first after allowing a leadoff single in the opening inning.
“The pickoff was awesome,” he said. “I think that’s the first pickoff I’ve had in years. I don’t (throw) over (to first) much. I’m real quick to the plate, so when I do pick, it’s for a reason.
“I felt (Cabrera) was getting a little bigger lead, so Luc (catcher Jonathan Lucroy) and me were obviously on the same page because he looked at me, I looked at him, and I just said, ‘OK, let’s go. I got this guy.’ Even if it I didn’t get him out, just get him to step back and get us a chance for a double play.”
Padres 6, Brewers 2
The arms: Brewers right-hander Johnny Hellweg worked two scoreless innings and allowed a hit and a walk... Brandon Kintlzer needed 10 pitches to retire the side in the fourth, but was charged with a run because Herrera dove for a sinking liner that ended up being an inside-the-park homer for Rico Noel... Garza said he was having no problems getting used to throwing with Lucroy as his catcher and will likely work with backup Martin Maldonado in his next outing... .
The bats: Milwaukee was hitless fo rfive innings until Herrera tripled in the sixth and Scotter Gennett, who was 1 for 13 entering play, followed with a two-run homer. The Brewers managed just three hits against five San Diego pitchers.
The gloves: Roenicke was less than thrilled with his team's execution on cutoffs and relays, but he did not fault Herrera for struggling with the sun. "This is a tough place to play," he said. "If you can look good playing the outfield in Arizona, you can look good anywhere."
Et cetera: Ryan Braun, who came into play batting .857, was hitless in two at-bats and saw his average plummet to .667... The Brewers are 5-5 this spring.... The Royals, managed by former Milwaukee skipper Ned Yost, visit Maryvale on Saturday... Aramis Ramirez is slated to make his first spring start.
By DREW OLSON
PHOENIX — The “take it easy” portion of Aramis Ramirez’s spring is winding to a close.
The Brewers veteran third baseman, whose workload was reduced early in camp due to off-season surgery to remove a polyp from his colon, ran the bases before the full-team workout Friday morning and was cleared to make his exhibition debut against Kansas City Saturday afternoon at Maryvale Baseball Park.
"We’ve still got, what, 20-plus games counting the two exhibition games at home?" he said. "I should be good… I’m going to have to take it easy earlier.”
Manager Ron Roenicke said Ramirez “‘got after it pretty good,’ while running Thursday and will play a couple innings Saturday. Ramirez reported no problems with the left knee that sidelined him for more than half of last season.
Ramirez sprained his knee sliding into second base during an exhibition game last year and then reinsured the knee during the first week of the season.
How does he feel about sliding in spring training?
"I’m going to try to avoid it. Hopefully I don’t have to," he said. "Sometimes your instincts take over, but I’m going to try to be smart about it.”
Roenicke said Ramirez may have to consider sliding head-first for the remainder of his career. Ramirez, however, declined another concession to age/conditioning.
“I don’t like to DH,” he said, referring to the designated hitter slot available during spring training. “I want to play.”
With Ramirez shelved, the Brewers have used Mark Reynolds, Taylor Green, Jeff Bianchi and Juan Francisco at third base in early exhibition games.
By DREW OLSON
PHOENIX -- The Brewers square off against San Diego today at Maryvale Baseball Park, with right-hander Matt Garza making his second start of the spring. Here is Milwaukee's starting lineup for the game, which starts at 2 p.m. (CST).
Here is San Diego's lineup:
SAN DIEGO (2-6-1)
Everth Cabrera, SS
Alexi Amarista, 3B
Will Venable, CF
Carlos Quentin, DH
Xavier Nady, 1B
Nick Hundley, C
Alex Dickerson, LF
Rico Noel, RF
Coy Spangenberg, 2B
Brewers pitchers stand and watch a rundwon drill Thursday at Maryvale Baseball Park.
By DREW OLSON
PHOENIX -- A few months ago, I was talking to a friend about technology, social media and journalism and he said, "These days, everybody is a photographer."
I think he's right... to a point.
Almost everybody carries a cell phone. Almost every cell phone features a camera.
So... Everybody is a photographer, right?
That's where I disagree.
Everybody can take pictures. Not everybody is a photographer.
I most certainly am not. I can take a picture with the best of them. But, they usually end up blurry, out of focus and -- just plain bad. Just because someone can make musical noises with their voice box does not make them a "singer." I'd guess that there are as many tone-deaf crooners out there as there are clueless photogs.
I know a bunch of great photographers, many of whom work in sports. David Bernacchi, whose work appears on this site, is terrific. So are my former newspaper colleagues, Jeff Phelps, Rick Wood, Tom Lynn, Benny Sieu and national shooters I've met like Ron Modra and John Biever. Those guys are photographers. I'm a picture-taker. But, those guys aren't here this weekend, so I'm going to do my best to submit a picture each day I'm in Arizona.
The photo above, shot with my IPhone 5s, captured the Brewers during their morning workout on Thursday. The pitchers along the third-base line actually are watching players take part in a rundown drill. I didn't use any filter or technical tricks, the sky was overcast and I just felt like taking a photo.
It turned out OK -- for an amateur.
Check back to see what I can come up with tomorrow.