ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Drew Olson
Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez collected two hits, three RBI and a walk during his return to action Saturday.
By DREW OLSON
PHOENIX —Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez waited two weeks for his Cactus League at-bat.
Waiting for a second pitch would have been asking too much.
Ramirez, who missed Milwaukee’s first 10 exhibition games while recovering from off-season surgery to remove a polyp from his colon, came to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning and belted the first pitch he saw from Kansas City lefty John Lamb for a three-run double to left.
The Brewers went on to win the game, 7-6, at Maryvale Baseball Park.
“I wanted to get that first hit out of the way right away,” Ramirez said. “I was hoping for a strike and he did throw me a strike. I put a pretty good swing on it.”
Ramirez walked in the second inning and singled to center in the fourth, leaving for pinch-runner Jeff Bianchi. He finished 2 for 2 with a walk and had an uneventful day at third base.
“I was hoping to get some ground balls to see how I'm moving out there, but we've got plenty of time (in camp),” Ramirez said. “I should get some ground balls before we leave.”
Ramirez expects to rest Sunday, as the Brewers play a split-squad doubleheader with games against the Cubs and Indians, and should return on Monday.
“I feel pretty good,” he said. “It’s been a while since the last time I played a baseball game. It was a little weird in the beginning, but now I've gotten the first one out of the way.”
During his morning meeting with reporters, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was asked about Ryan Braun’s hot start this spring (6 for 9 with two homers) coming off a PED suspension. Roenicke’s comment about Braun could apply to Ramirez as well.
"There are some athletes that you put them on the 15-day DL and they're lost for half a month,” Roenicke said. “And there's other guys you do it and the first day back they get three hits. It's hard to explain. I know it's a better athlete that comes back quicker, but I don't know what the difference is between the timing of it — to be able to always have the timing there.”
Marco Estrada, who allowed seven hits and three earned runs in his second spring start, wasn’t surprised by Ramirez’s debut.
“The guy is incredible,” Estrada said. “I never liked pitching against him. I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Royals rightfielder Nori Aoki visited Maryvale Baseball Park on Saturday to face his former teammates.
By DREW OLSON
PHOENIX — Three years ago, Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar and centerfielder Lorenzo Cain would have been the center of attention.
On Saturday, the pair — key players in the trade that brought Zach Greinke to Milwaukee in the winter of 2010 — were a mere footnote in Nori Aoki’s homecoming game.
Aoki, the Brewers’ right fielder and leadoff man the past two seasons, visited Maryvale Baseball Park for the first time as a visiting player Saturday, going 1 for 3 with two RBI and a run scored as his new team, the Royals, dropped a 7-6 decision to his former club.
Aoki, dealt to Kansas City for left-handed pitcher Will Smith, received a warm reception from Brewers players and employees and fans, many of whom received surplus Aoki bobbleheads on their way into the park.
"It brought back good memories," Aoki said through translator Kosuke Inaji, who was in Milwaukee with Takashi Saito in 2011 and stuck around for two years with Aoki.
"It was nice seeing some familiar faces."
With Aoki, 32, eligible for free agency after the season and Khris Davis emerging as a power prospect in left field, the Brewers decided to send the popular Japanese player to Kansas City for Smith. Though he likes the idea of a power pitcher who is under club control for five years, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke admitted that Aoki’s departure left a void in the lineup and in the clubhouse.
"Any time you have a player as a coach or manager, whatever, I'm sure front office, too, that does the things that you think players should do…it's hard when you think about losing those guys. “(Aoki) had a great personality. He fit in really well with the guys. We had fun with him. But, he worked as hard as you could work. You can't put more effort into the job than he did. I know my wife also liked his wife and the rest of the wives really liked Sachi, so there were just lots of reasons why you feel good about guys like that.”
Roenicke has used Jean Segura and Rickie Weeks in the leadoff spot this season.
”We'll be more creative," said Roenicke. "We're hoping in the long run that offensively we're getting a different thing offensively. We hope we get somebody who drives in a lot of runs and has some power that are added to our lineup.
"There's different elements of what you think you need in not just that year but down the road."
Aoki — always quick with a smile during his time with the Brewers — broke into a laugh before his first at-bat Saturday. Brewers senior director of media relations Mike Vassallo served up “ChaChaLaLa” — the theme song of WWE wrestler Fandango — played over the public address system. Aoki used the song as his “walk-up” music for a time at Miller Park.
Stepping into the shadows.... almost
By DREW OLSON
PHOENIX -- Another attempt at iPhone 5s greatness. Today's photo captures Brewers catcher Robinzon Diaz stepping in for the final at-bat of the Brewers' 7-6 victory over Kansas City.
The Brewers' starting lineup for this afternoon. (Calligraphy by bench coach Jerry Narron).
By DREW OLSON
PHOENIX -- Third baseman Aramis Ramirez makes his spring debut today as the Brewers take on Kansas City at Maryvale Baseball Park. Ramirez, who has been taking things slowly while recovering from offseason surgery to remove a polyp from his colon, is expected to play long enough to get two at-bats.
The game will mark the return of former Brewers manager Ned Yost, who manages the Royals, as well as former Milwaukee hitting coach (and interim manager) Dale Sveum and outfielder Nori Aoki, who will bat leadoff for Kansas City after being traded for reliever Will Smith during the offseason.
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.