Notes: Fielder settles on Derby aide
Minor League manager to serve as slugger's pitcher Monday
WASHINGTON -- Actually performing in the State Farm Home Run Derby will be the easy part for Brewers slugger Prince Fielder. Finding someone to pitch was tough.Ultimately, the choice was Class A West Virginia manager Mike Guerrero, who was Fielder's hitting coach at Class A Beloit in 2003 when Fielder won league MVP honors. Guerrero will take two days off from managing the Power to work with Fielder at the event, set for Monday night in San Francisco. Guerrero told the Charleston Daily Mail that the honor was "a blessing from heaven." "My job is to serve up those steaks right there," Guerrero told the newspaper, holding his right hand waist high. Fielder's top choice was Brewers bench coach Dale Sveum, who threw to Boston's David Ortiz and Texas' Mark Teixeira in the 2005 Derby. But Sveum already had plans to spend the All-Star break in Phoenix with his family. Sveum said Fielder then tabbed Triple-A Nashville manager Frank Kremblas, who was Fielder's manager at Double-A Huntsville in 2005 and at Nashville in 2005. But Kremblas had to bow out after a death in his family. "I would love to do it," said Sveum, who would have been pitching in front of a hometown crowd in San Francisco. "If I saw my family every day, I would do it. And if I hadn't done a Derby before, maybe I would do it." Fielder hit two home runs on Saturday night to tie the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez for the Major League lead with 29. Brewers hitters sometimes play home run derby during the final round of batting practice, and Fielder will head to San Francisco with a simple strategy. "Just try to hit the ball high and far," he said. "I'm going to have fun. My wife and kids will be there, so hopefully I'll bring my kids down [to the field]." Fielder became friends with former Brewers slugger Carlos Lee, who took part in 2005 and suffered a power outage in the second half. Lee hit 22 home runs with 76 RBIs before the Derby, then hit 10 home runs with 38 RBIs in 60 fewer at-bats after and said he would pass on the event if asked in the future. Fielder predicted no such dropoff.
"I don't think it can mess you up that much because we do it in BP anyway," Fielder said. "I don't think it's going to mess up my swing at all."The Brewers are footing the bill for a private flight for the team's four All-Stars -- closer Francisco Cordero, Fielder, shortstop J.J. Hardy and starter Ben Sheets -- from Washington to San Francisco on Sunday night. Their duties were set to begin bright and early Monday with the All-Star media session. "From what I've heard, it's pretty busy," Hardy said. Get 'em ready: Sveum managed in Pittsburgh's Minor League chain from 2001-2003 and was Boston's third-base coach from 2004-2005 before joining Ned Yost's staff in Milwaukee. Just as pitchers work to increase the movement on their offerings, Sveum has worked to hone his arrow-straight, four-seam batting practice fastballs. "From my own playing career, I know how important it is to have a guy you feel comfortable with," Sveum said. "BP is for one thing and one thing only: To make those guys feel good. That's what you're trying to do, just serve up home runs." Sveum said he will be watching the Derby on television. He plans to have Robin Yount and Yount's family over for a barbecue. Lineup notes: Yost played Craig Counsell at second base Sunday over a slumping Rickie Weeks, and more than two hours before game time, Yost scratched Geoff Jenkins from the lineup because of a swollen right knee. Jenkins fouled a pitch off the inside of his knee during a 13-pitch at-bat in the eighth inning Saturday night. Jenkins eventually struck out swinging. "I felt it getting fat, but it's one of those things where you come in today and hope you can play," said Jenkins, showing off what looked like a second kneecap on his right leg. It's a good time for a four-day All-Star break. "Perfect time," Jenkins said. Good things must end: Saturday was a bad day for Brewers hitting streaks. While Corey Hart went 0-for-4 with a walk in Washington, Class A Brevard County's Mat Gamel went 0-for-3 in a 2-0 loss to Palm Beach. Gamel's hitting streak ended at 33 games, the longest run in the Florida State League since Joe Altobelli hit in a league-record 36 straight in 1951. Gamel's tied for the sixth-longest hitting streak in all of Minor League Baseball over the last 20 years. The two longest have come this season; Brandon Watson hit in 43 straight games for Triple-A Columbus, a first-year Nationals affiliate, and Mitch Hilligoss hit in 38 straight for Class A Charleston, a Yankees farm club. Before Gamel's 33-game run, the longest hitting streak in the pitching-friendly Florida State League belonged to current Cleveland Indians third baseman Casey Blake, who hit in 31 straight for Dunedin in 1998. Hart had a chance to extend his own streak in the ninth inning of Saturday's loss at RFK Stadium but instead, in a one-run game, drew a walk. His 22-game streak was the longest by a Brewers hitter since Paul Molitor hit in a club-record 39 straight games in 1997, and tied for the third-longest hitting streak in Brewers history. New digs: Sunday marked the Brewers' final game at RFK Stadium. The Nationals are on schedule to move into a new ballpark just south of the U.S. Capitol building by Opening Day 2008, and there is a Brewers tie. Nationals director of ballpark operations Steve Ethier spent the last 14 years in the Brewers' front office, most recently running the facilities at Miller Park. He will be in charge of the new, 41,222-seat stadium being built on the banks of the Anacostia River. It will feature views of the waterfront, navy yard and nearby monuments, including the Capitol and the Washington Monument. "It's not going to be one of the retro parks we have been seeing a lot of lately," Ethier said. "This place is pretty cutting edge." On deck: Yost has yet to set his pitching rotation for a three-game series against the Rockies to start the second half. Because Sheets almost certainly will pitch in the All-Star Game, he probably will pitch Saturday or Sunday. Right-hander Jeff Suppan is a likely candidate to start the series opener on Friday, though Yost could also go with left-hander Chris Capuano on regular rest. The manager will announce his intentions at a team workout at 6 p.m. CT on Thursday at Miller Park. The Brewers' four All-Stars will be excused from the meeting.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.