Tag:Randy Wolf
Posted on: July 10, 2011 12:56 pm
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On Deck: D-Train pulls back into majors


By Evan Brunell


ShieldsSabathiaBEST MATCHUP: A great matchup is on tap at Yankee Stadium to cap off the first half, with Cy Young Award contenders CC Sabathia and James Shields squaring off in a battle. A victory would push the Rays to within three for second place over the Yanks, and there's no better pitcher this year for the Rays than Shields to get it done. Owner of a consecutive three-complete game streak in the past month, Shields boasts a 2.47 ERA, much to Sabathia's chagrin, who has a 2.90 mark. Not many pitchers can beat that, but Shields can. Sabathia, with 12 wins, can become the first AL pitcher in six years to have 13 prior to the break if he can pull off a win. Rays at Yankees, 1:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)

WillisWELCOME BACK, D-TRAIN: It's been a long road back for Willis who is now 29 years old, with his Rookie of the Year award back in 2003 at age 21 a distant memory after posting a 3.30 ERA in 27 starts and helping the Marlins to a World Series title. Just two years later, he won the Cy Young Award with a 22-10 record and pristine 2.63 ERA in 34 starts, registering seven complete games and five shutouts. Those are numbers that would make Roy Halladay jealous. And yet, starting in 2007 at age 25, Willis ran a streak of pitching for the Marlins, Tigers, Diamondbacks and Giants (only the minors for S.F.), pitching to the tune of a 5.81 ERA in 328 2/3 innings. Career over? Not quite. The lefty makes his 2011 debut for the Reds today after staging a comeback not many thought would happen in Triple-A. Whether you're a Reds fan or not, everyone needs more D-Train in their life, and he's finally back. He's opposing Randy Wolf of the Brewers. Reds vs. Brewers, 2:10 p.m. ET (Watch live)

MarinersAngelsDIVISION CHASE: The Mariners are slip-sliding their way out of the postseason chase thanks to an anemic offense (what else is new?) but still have an outside shot, just 6 1/2 games behind Texas and 5 1/2 behind Los Angeles. Seattle certainly will go into Sunday's game against the Angels expecting to win with 2010 Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez on the mound (3.22 ERA, 134/42 K/BB, 137 IP). Slight problem, though: The Angels have their own big dog going today in Dan Haren (2.65 ERA, 107/18 K/BB, 125 2/3 IP). It's another pitching duel in a day set up for quite a few low-scoring games. Mariners at Angels, 3:35 p.m. ET (Watch live)

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Posted on: July 6, 2011 1:15 am
Edited on: July 6, 2011 1:19 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Pirates surge to second place


By C. Trent Rosecrans


Pittsburgh Pirates: With their 5-1 victory over the Astros, the Pirates improved to four games over .500 (45-41) this late in the season for the first time since 1992. The win, coupled with Milwaukee's loss to the Diamondbacks, moved Pittsburgh into second place in the National League Central, 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals. Jeff Karstens allowed one run on seven hits in seven innings, improving to 7-4 on the season and lowering his ERA to 2.55. Brandon Wood added a two-run homer in the win.

Dan Haren, Angels: The Angels' right-hander allowed just two hits in a shutout victory over Justin Verlander and the Tigers on Tuesday. Haren struck out nine batters, earning his ninth win of the season and the 100th of his career as he retired the last 15 batters he faced. The Angels have now won 10 of their last 12. Verlander struck out eight, while allowing a run and seven hits in 7 1/3 innings. He was ejected from the game as he left the mound and was credited with his first loss in his last 12 starts.

Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: Sometimes the best part of baseball isn't the towering shot or the big strikeout, but the other things a player can do to help his team win. With one out and runners on first and second in the top of the 10th, Brendan Ryan hit a grounder to A's second baseman Jemile Weeks who flipped it to Cliff Pennington, but Suzuki was on the move and slid wide, disrupting Pennington's throw to first. The throw went by first baseman Connor Jackson and allowing the go-ahead run to score. Adam Kennedy followed with an RBI double to give the Mariners a 4-2 victory. None of that would have happened without Ichiro's slide.
Randy Wolf, Brewers: Milwaukee's left-hander gave up four runs in the first inning and then allowed two home runs to put the Brewers in a 7-1 hole. Wolf did throw three more scoreless innings to at least give the bullpen some rest, but when that's the best that can be said about a start, it's not a very good start. The Brewers lost consecutive games at home for the first time this season and fell to third place in the National League Central.

Chris Volstad, Marlins: Perhaps Jack McKeon should just skip Volstad's next start against the Phillies. In two games against Philadelphia this season, the right-hander has allowed 15 runs in 9 2/3 innings, including seven runs in four innings in Tuesday's 14-2 in Florida.

Jeff Baker, Cubs: With bases loaded and no outs in the first inning of Tuesday's game in Washington, Ramon Ortiz got Laynce Nix to do exactly what he wanted him to do -- a tailor-made ground ball to second base. It would cost the team a run, but two outs for one run is fine in the first inning. Instead, the Nationals would get two runs and the Cubs no outs as Baker airmailed the short throw into left past shortstop Darwin Barney. The Nationals would score one more run in the inning, but that was all they needed, beating Chicago 3-2.

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Posted on: April 30, 2011 1:12 am
Edited on: April 30, 2011 1:17 am
 

Greinke appears on target to start next week

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Zack GreinkeZack Greinke made what may have been his final minor-league rehab start on Friday, allowing seven hits and two runs in five innings for Triple-A Nashville against Albuquerque.

Greinke threw 75 pitches, 50 for strikes. He walked one and struck out seven against the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate.

It was Greinke's third rehab start out of what was scheduled to be three starts in the minors.

"I know he's looking forward to this being his last one there," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told MLB.com before the Brewers' game with the Astros. "Hopefully, it's a good outing that he gets a lot of innings in. To get up and down is what's important. I hope he doesn't run through his pitch count to where he's not getting up and down a lot.

The Brewers are looking at starting him either Wednesday or Thursday in Atlanta, limiting to 90 pitches in that outing. Wednesday would be five days rest, but Thursday would set up the rest of the team's rotation, and find a way to put Yovani Gallardo between the team's two left-handed starters, Chris Narveson and Randy Wolf.

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Posted on: April 24, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2011 7:40 pm
 

Hawk steals show in Milwaukee

Miller Park Hawk
By C. Trent Rosecrans

Randy Wolf allowed just four hits over eight innings, but a hawk stole the show at Miller Park on Sunday.

With the roof closed at Miller Park, a hawk hunted another bird and was the center of attention for much of the Brewers' 4-1 victory. The hawk attacked the other bird in center field in the top of the third and then hung out around Astros right fielder Hunter Pence in the bottom half of the inning.

"Whatever that was, a pigeon, it looked scared. It looked at me like, why is the roof closed? I can't get out of here," Wolf told reporters, according to the Associated Press. 

Wolf said the bird also "buzzed my tower" during his third victory over the season. Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said he thought the bird was going to attack.

Astros second baseman Bill Hall was close to the bird in its third inning.

"He was on the outfield grass, hanging out. Wasn't a lot of action [in his direction] during the time he was out there," Hall said. "I don't know when he got up and flew away. Obviously, he was having a good time out there."

It was apparently a good thing neither Hall nor Pence approached the hawk.

"It's really unlikely for a bird like that to get aggressive, unless somebody was coming after him, trying to pick him up or getting to close to his nest," Heather Neldner, a zookeeper in the Milwaukee County Zoo's aviary, told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. "If he's just sitting there, minding his own business, it's unlikely that he would go after a random person."

And like any celebrity, the Miller Park Hawk had his own Twitter account created during the game -- @MillerParkHawk. The hawk, of course, is following Pence, @HunterPence9, on the social networking site.

After the game, Brewers pitcher LaTroy Hawkins noted on Twitter it was indeed a hawk, and write "At least one Hawk was seen Today!" And, of course, it should be noted Hawkins was the favorite Brewer of the hawk, according to @MillerParkHawk.

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Posted on: April 15, 2011 1:44 am
 

3 up, 3 down for 4/14: Here's Johnny

By Matt Snyder

3UP

Johnny Damon, Rays. He set a record Thursday night, in case you didn't hear. A quite obscure one, but a record nevertheless. When Damon hit a two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, it was the fifth team for which he'd hit a walk-off homer -- the others being the Royals, Red Sox, Yankees and Tigers. According to Elias Sports Bureau, he's the first player in major-league history to do so. That speaks to both longevity and bouncing around. For the present, however, the concentration should be on the Rays' third straight victory.

Randy Wolf, Brewers. After starting the season 0-4, the Brewers are now 7-5. Thursday night, they owed a big portion of their victory to the man on the hill. Wolf allowed just three hits and two walks with zero earned runs and didn't allow a Pirates player past second base. He also struck out 10 men. Big outing for Wolf and the Brewers are really rolling now.

Hanley Ramirez, Marlins. He entered the game hitting .194 with a dreadful .553 OPS. The star shortstop has been badly outplayed by Rockies star Troy Tulowitzki to this point. Thursday, Ramirez showed signs of life. He got on base five times in five plate appearances, going 3-3 with two walks, a run and an RBI. This could be exactly the thing he needs to get going. With the Marlins being 7-5 now, basically without his bat, watch out.

3DOWN

The Twins. Joe Mauer is going to the DL. Rays starter James Shields allowed 11 baserunners, but the Twins only scored twice. Twins starter Carl Pavano threw an absolute gem (eight innings, four hits, zero runs, seven strikeouts) and it was wasted by the bullpen. And it wasn't just two random members of the 'pen. It was Joe Nathan, who coughed up the lead in the ninth on a two-RBI Matt Joyce double, and Matt Capps -- who lost the game on Damon's aforementioned shot in the 10th.

Mariners offense. They were already starting with a strike against them. Adam Kennedy was hitting cleanup. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up. Then the Mariners go out and get handcuffed by Bruce Chen. In fairness to Chen, he had a 4.07 ERA and 1.38 WHIP last year, so he's not the worst pitcher in baseball or anything. It's just that he's still Bruce Chen and held Seattle to six hits, a walk and zero runs over eight innings. That shouldn't be happening to a major-league offense. Then again, Adam Kennedy should never be batting cleanup even in a minor-league offense.

Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers. He got off to a stellar start to the season, but it came crashing down Thursday night as the Cardinals let loose against the right-hander. He was only able to get through five innings, allowing 10 hits and five earned runs as the Dodgers lost 9-5.

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Posted on: March 15, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: March 15, 2011 11:52 am
 

Pepper: Injury bug biting Brewers



By Matt Snyder


Whether it's Zack Greinke's rib injury, Yuniesky Betancourt's quad or Carlos Gomez's back, things generally haven't been feeling physically well at Brewers camp. They seem to have at least a minor malady for everyone on the team -- even two guys with an intercostal injury, which I didn't even know was a thing. Apparently they are muscles on the rib cage that help contract the chest.

Chris Dickerson is someone who has that issue. He hurt his Monday against the Giants, when he had an ugly collision with Pablo Sandoval. It wasn't exactly a Casey-level beatdown, but Dickerson seemed to have lost. The collision prompted a somewhat humorous/somewhat realistic quote from Randy Wolf.

"Thank God Sandoval lost 30 pounds or that might have been a decapitation," Wolf told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel . "I thought he dislocated his shoulder. It sounded bad."

Wolf later added he's afraid to walk to his car, and he may not have been kidding.

The Brewers can take solace in the fact that it's only spring and they haven't lost anyone for the season yet, like their division-mate Cardinals.

DREW'S MOOD HATS: Potential Nationals closer Drew Storen had struggled this spring, but put together a solid outing Monday. If you peered inside the brim of his hat, you'd have seen: "Down." "Precise." "Focus through the target." The youngster followed his own advice, setting the Tigers down in order in his one inning of work. Writing reminder messages in his hats isn't new for Storen, as he's already cycled through four this spring and has countless left from last year.

"It's kind of like a mood ring, it's a mood hat," he told the Washington Times . "I keep them all. Since there's so much going on, I'll be the first to admit, you get caught up in thinking about throwing things and try to do too much. It's just a nice, easy way to bring your mind back into it."

If a quirk like this seems weird, you've never been around a baseball locker room. In fact, this is relatively normal. Hey, whatever works.

STRASBURG PROGRESSING: Speaking of Nationals pitchers drafted in the first round in 2009, Stephen Strasburg is reportedly making good progress as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. He's now throwing 90 feet off flat ground and eyes a September return. As you might remember, he had the surgery last September and the normal recovery period is 12-18 months. But just because he has high expectations doesn't mean he's impatient.

"I have to no choice [but to be patient]. I can't just wake up the next morning expecting to get on the mound. It's a slow gradual process. It's about the slow steady progress. It has to take its time and let the body heal naturally." (MLB.com )

IN OR OUT? Luis Castillo might win the second base job for the Mets out of camp because they have no better options. But manager Terry Collins reportedly doesn't really want Castillo around -- only he hasn't officially said as much. Some believe the higher-ups on the Mets would rather Castillo start, but J.P. Ricciardi backs Brad Emaus. Basically, no one really knows what is going on. (ESPN New York )

BELTRE BACK:
Monday, Adrian Beltre made his spring debut, and it went off without a hitch. The third baseman -- who had been sidelined with a strained calf -- played five innings, going 1-3. His only issue had nothing to do with his calf and should be completely expected under the circumstances. "I felt a little bit rusty," he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram .

PLAY IT AGAIN, RICH: In the least surprising news of the spring, Rich Harden needs to see a doctor. He hasn't thrown a bullpen since February 15, but felt an issue in his lat muscle Sunday and it looks like he's going to be shut down again. (MLB.com ) It's sad to say, but even at age 29, it's hard to see him ever regaining form for an extended period of time. That sparkling 2008 season -- 10-2, 2.07 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 181 K in 148 innings -- will likely go down as his best. With the kind of stuff he has, when healthy, that's a shame. UPDATE: Susan Slusser reports Harden will throw Wednesday and he hasn't suffered a setback.

WHAT IF ... : MLB Trade Rumors has put together a list of what the free agent class might look like at the end of this season if no one had signed extensions. It's worth a look for entertainment purposes.

IT'S ONLY SPRING, BUT ... : ... the Diamondbacks suck. The always-great Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic points out the Snakes would have a record of 4-13-3 if you only count the first five innings of every game this spring -- which is when the major-league starters are still in the game. Perhaps nothing could be more telling than a quote from manager Kirk Gibson: "I'm ready to be impressed, I can tell you that." Such a statement in the spring is troubling, because most of the time optimism is in the air.

BARTMAN MOVIE OUT SOON: Catching Hell , an ESPN 30-for-30 documentary about the infamous Steve Bartman foul ball (Cubs, Moises Alou, Marlins, 2003 NLCS, Game 6 ... c'mon, you know this) will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 20-May 1 in New York City. The one thing that's amazing to me in the years since that inning is how much people -- non-Cubs fans, to be specific -- seem to enjoy pointing out the loss wasn't Bartman's fault. The insinuation behind this is that all Cubs fans blame the loss on Bartman, which couldn't be further from the truth. Go talk to a group of educated Cubs fans and Alex Gonzalez's name is much more blasphemous. I'll reserve judgment on the movie until it comes out, but I can't help but think some myths are going to be further perpetuated because a few jerk fans threw things at Bartman -- which was reprehensible. In fact, expect a further rant from me on the subject when the movie is released. (Chicago Tribune )

"BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE!" We've all heard it in spring training. We've all mocked it. But a sample of players the past few years who have declared they are in the best shape of their life have actually outperformed expectations more than players who didn't make such a declaration in the spring. It doesn't mean there's always merit behind the claim, but it's certainly an interesting query. (Baseball Prospectus )

THE GREEK GOD OF JOKES:
Kevin Youkilis walked and then struck out to Yankees 20-year-old prospect Manny Banuelos Monday night. So, naturally, Banuelos is a stud, right? "He's going to be a Hall of Famer," Youkilis told reporters (New York Times ). He made it clear he was kidding, but didn't want to go overboard. When he got serious about the potential phenom, he was respectful.

"He's got three pitches he can throw pretty good, now he has to learn how to pitch," said Youkilis, adding: "If he figures it out, he'll be all right. Being left-handed and throwing hard, if you throw three good pitches and you're left-handed, you don't even have to throw 90."

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Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:29 pm
 

Gallardo named Brewers' opening day starter

By C. Trent Rosecrans

In what would have been an upset a couple of weeks ago, but was now a foregone conclusion, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke officially named Yovani Gallardo his opening day starter.

Yovani Gallardo"With [Zack] Greinke and Gallardo, if you look at their last three years, they're both No. 1 [pitchers]," Roenicke told reporters Thursday morning (via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). "Gallardo is also our ace."

The Brewers will follow Gallardo, 25, with Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson. The fifth starter spot is still undecided. Because of an off day in Cincinnati the day after the opener, the Brewers could have Gallardo pitch again on regular rest instead of using a fifth starter.

"We may wait and see what Yovani does in the opener," Roenicke said.

Narveson is scheduled to start the home opener on April 4 against the Braves.

While Gallardo doesn't have the name recognition of Greinke, he's a quality starter and has done plenty on his own to earn the opening day nod on his own merit. An All-Star last season, Gallardo started on opening day last season for the Brewers, going 14-7 on the season with a 3.84 ERA. He recorded 200 strikeouts in 185 innings. His xFIP (fielding independent pitching, normalized for park factors) last season was 3.42 last season. Greinke was 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA last season, along with an xFIP of 3.76.

Gallardo lost his opening day assignment last season, but was matched up against Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies. Gallardo did struggle last season against the Reds, going 0-2 with a 9.22 ERA in three starts against the NL Central champs. Greinke faced the Reds once and threw a complete-game five-hitter in a  win.

Gallardo will face off against Cincinnati's Edinson Volquez in the opener at Great American Ball Park.

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Posted on: March 7, 2011 11:01 pm
 

Getting to know the Brewers

By Matt Snyder

TEAM MVP

Making the trade for Zack Greinke was big for the Brewers, but it didn't necessarily mean Greinke himself automatically became the most valuable player for the Brewers. It allowed Yovani Gallardo to move down to the two-slot in the rotation and -- when teamed with the acquisition of Shaun Marcum -- slotted Randy Wolf as the No. 4. That whole chain of events is huge. In terms of the position players, Prince Fielder is a monster bat in the middle of the order, but the heart and soul of the Brewers is Ryan Braun. The 27 year old rarely misses games or makes errors in the outfield. He's a clubhouse leader and is underpaid, comparing him to other perennial All-Stars, but content to stay with the Brewers and concentrate on winning. Oh, he also has a career 140 OPS-plus, which is outstanding, and steals 16 bases a year. For these reasons and many more, the MVP of the Brewers is easily Braun.

PLAYER ORACLE -- Teddy Higuera to Zack Greinke

Teddy Higuera played with Paul Molitor on the 1985 Milwaukee Brewers

Paul Molitor played with Denny Hocking on the 1998 Minnesota Twins

Denny Hocking played with Zack Greinke on the 2005 Kansas City Royals

POP CULTURE

In 2007, J.J. Hardy, Chris Capuano, Bill Hall and Jeff Suppan appeared on an episode of the "Young and the Restless." At the time the Brewers were in first place and the woman in the clip plays a rather enthusiastic fan of the four players. A few of the highlights she mentions were a stretch (Capuano as one of the best left-handed starters in the league? Really?), so maybe it's no surprise none of the four are still in Milwaukee. Seriously, weren't Braun and Fielder available?



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