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Gamel's knee injury shuffles first base plan

The Sports Xchange
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This was going to be the year that Mat Gamel established himself as the Brewers' first baseman of the future, or so club officials hoped.

All it takes is one bad injury to take you from Plan A to Plan B.

The Brewers learned Wednesday that Gamel suffered a torn ACL in his right knee the previous evening while chasing after a foul pop-up in the first inning of a 2-0 loss to San Diego. Gamel will undergo surgery that in all likelihood would signal the end of his season.

Recalling that right-hander Yovani Gallardo suffered the same injury on the same date in 2008 yet returned to pitch in the playoffs, general manager Doug Melvin stopped short of saying Gamel was done for the season.

"We'll wait until the doctor looks at it," said Melvin. "Yovani had a torn ACL and pitched in the playoffs. But we're anticipating long-term."

Backup first baseman Travis Ishikawa started Wednesday in the series finale in San Diego. Ishikawa played 281 games at first for San Francisco from 2006-'10 before signing with the Brewers in the offseason.

The Brewers also will call up veteran utility infielder Brooks Conrad, who started at first base Wednesday for Class AAA Nashville. The switch-hitting Conrad was batting .400 with five home runs and 13 runs batted in.

The Brewers also have discussed the possibility of moving right fielder Corey Hart to first base, a position he once played. Melvin and his scouting staff also will explore outside options, including veteran Derrek Lee, who did not sign with a team for 2012.

"It keeps your scouting staff working; keeps our minds going; keeps your development people working," said Melvin. "For now, we'll fill from within. Travis will be out there. Making trades aren't as easy as people think."

It was a discouraging development for Gamel, who finally got his chance to play regularly after Prince Fielder left for Detroit via free agency. In 21 games, the 26-year-old left-handed hitter was batting .246 with one home run and six RBI but was beginning to settle in at the position.

"I play the game hard," said Gamel. "Unfortunately, when you play the game hard, sometimes you've got to pay."

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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