Wizards

Brewers going with young arms in their rotation

Brewers going with young arms in their rotation

MILWAUKEE (AP) Yovani Gallardo is expected to be the ace of the Milwaukee Brewers' rotation.

After that, the team faces some question marks.

Manager Ron Roenicke expects right-hander Marco Estrada to fill a spot. If Chris Narveson is recovered from shoulder surgery that limited him to just two starts a year ago, he'll be back in the rotation.

Gallardo made 33 starts in 2012, posting a 16-9 record and 3.66 ERA while striking out 204.

Prospects will compete for the final rotation spots.

Mike Fiers has the most big league experience of the group, starting 22 games last season while posting a 9-10 record and a 3.74 ERA.

Former No. 1 draft pick Mark Rogers, who has had injury issues, was 6-6 with a 4.72 ERA in 18 starts with Triple-A Nashville and 3-1 with a 3.92 ERA in seven starts with the Brewers before he was shut down for the season.

After a slow start with Nashville, Wily Peralta made five starts late in the season with the Brewers and went 2-1 with a 2.48 ERA.

``Peralta has a huge upside,'' Roenicke said. ``If he pitches like he did a few of those games last year, he's got a huge upside.''

Milwaukee will also have depth in the minor leagues with Tyler Thornurg and Hiram Burgos.

Thornburg was Milwaukee's third-round draft choice in 2010 and has moved quickly through the system. He went 10-4 last year between Double-A Huntsville and Nashville and made a few appearances with Milwaukee during the season.

Burgos was the organization's minor league pitcher of the year last season, going 10-4 with a 1.95 ERA in 28 games with Nashville, Huntsville and Class A Brevard County, striking out 153 batters and walking just 49.

``The nice thing is we don't have just three guys for those three spots,'' Roenicke said. ``We've got two or three other guys we feel comfortable can do it. Going into it knowing that it's not just these three guys and you have to do it all year, we don't have to do that. We've got four guys we know can pitch in the big leagues for three spots.''

The Brewers are going with youth after trading Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels for prospects last season.

``I'm not saying it's a gamble,'' general manager Doug Melvin said. ``When I wake up every morning, it's a gamble. But we felt this was the time and opportunity to give them the ball. They all pitched very well. We like the ballclub. There were a lot of positives that took place in August and September of last season.''

Milwaukee looked for pitching help during free agency, showing interest in right-hander Ryan Dempster but the Brewers weren't willing to commit to a three-year contract and Dempster signed with Boston. Other candidates came with prices deemed a little too high, leading the Brewers to stick with what they have.

The Brewers' payroll was $101 million at the start of 2012 but the team decided to cut costs this year, leaving some wiggle room to add players as the season goes on.

``We saw last year with our ability to get back into the playoff race with two (wild cards), you can be seven or 10 games out at midseason and still have a shot,'' Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said.

``Now we are in position this year, even if we are back seven, eight, nine or 10 games, to add at midseason given where we have our payroll if we have the right kind of player come up depending how we see the division playing out at that time.''

Can a group of unheralded pitchers keep pace with the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central?

Melvin certainly thinks so.

The influx of young talent played a big part as the Brewers surged back into contention in 2012, finishing the season with a 27-13 record and going from 12 games under .500 to wild-card contention in the season's final weeks.

``We were encouraged by their performance last August and September,'' Melvin said. ``They performed well enough to give us confidence. The challenge is doing it over the course of the marathon season.''

Melvin and the Brewers also had to rework the bullpen over the winter.

Closer John Axford returns in 2013, after losing then regaining the ninth-inning role and finishing strong down the stretch. Midseason call-up Jim Henderson will open the season as the setup man, Kameron Loe, Manny Parra, Francisco Rodriguez left.

The bullpen was a big factor in the Brewers missing the playoffs as they led the majors with 29 blown saves. To shore up the bullpen, Melvin signed left-handers Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez from Washington and traded for Tampa Bay's Burke Badenhop.

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Former Wizard Marcin Gortat announces retirement

Former Wizard Marcin Gortat announces retirement

Long-time NBA veteran, and former Wizard, Marcin Gortat is retiring from the NBA, the center announced in a video via the Polish news station TVP.

At 35-years old, the big man had been out of the league this season following spending 2018-19 with the Los Angeles Clippers. In the video, Gortat mentioned that he gave himself the year off to weigh his options, and he now realizes it is the right time to hang it up.

A 12-year career, the "Polish Hammer" was a consistent and reliable force down low for the four teams he played for. Some of his best years came in D.C. with the Wizards. In five seasons with Washington from 2013-18, Gortat averaged at least 10 points in four seasons and played in at least 75 games in all five campaigns. 

His time with the Wizards also included three trips to the postseason. Gortat was traded to the Clippers for Austin Rivers following the 2018 season and was waived in February of 2019. 

An intense competitor, some NBA players have already begun to share their appreciation for Gortat, and more are sure to chime in.

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Kurt Suzuki finds himself in surprising spot of headline maker

Kurt Suzuki finds himself in surprising spot of headline maker

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Kurt Suzuki will turn 37 years old while in a major-league uniform if the Nationals play October baseball again this season. This is year 14 and the second stop with one of four teams he’s played for. Suzuki spent time in the American League,
 then the National League, then back to the AL before a return to the NL. He’s well-traveled.

Which makes the headlines cooking with his name all the stranger to him. Following comments to The Washington Post that the Houston Astros were using a whistling system to steal signs in the 2019 World Series, Suzuki’s name was hurled to the front of the cross-player sniping currently pervasive in Major League Baseball. Houston’s Carlos Correa transitioned to specifically talk about Suzuki on Saturday when he rumbled through a session with Astros writers. Sunday, Suzuki conducted his own group session, something he was partly in disbelief about, and something he doesn’t want to keep occurring. 

“Honestly, I’m too old to get in the middle,” Suzuki said. “I really don’t associate myself with this kind of stuff. I just kind of go about my business and try to stay out of everything and get ready to play baseball. That’s what it’s about -- playing baseball.”

Suzuki’s steady answers Sunday inside the Nationals’ clubhouse focused on two ideas: he’s enjoying the World Series and preparing for 2020. Suzuki stopped short of saying “I’m just here so I don’t get fined,” but that was the general tenor after he politely agreed to talk with reporters despite being self-aware enough to realize the topic.

“I thought you guys were going to talk about the 1-for-20 in the World Series,” Suzuki joked.

He made the same joke with teammates before heading to meet the media. He was asked where that “one” landed.

“Train tracks.”

Suzuki joined Yan Gomes, pitching coach Paul Menhart, Davey Martinez and others in devising a multi-tiered system to protect signs against the Astros in the World Series. Suzuki did not say Sunday he knew the Astros were cheating in the World Series. 

“You hear stuff around the league,” Suzuki said. “All you do is you do your due diligence and you try to prepare yourself to not get into that situation. We just did our homework on our end and did everything we possibly can to combat the rumors going around and we just prepared ourselves. That was the bottom line: just getting ready for it if it did happen.”

His session of diffusement ended with a nod to Max Scherzer’s comments from when spring training began. Scherzer bounced back questions about the Astros by advising reporters to go talk to them. 

“That’s their situation,” Suzuki said. “I think Scherzer said it best. They are the ones that have to do the answering. We’re just getting ready for the 2020 season to defend the title. That’s it. We’re getting ready, enjoying our teammates, enjoying the World Series and getting ready for the season.”

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