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Overbay gives Brewers another option at 1B

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By Tom Haudricourt
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
January 21, 2014

The Milwaukee Brewers gave themselves yet another option at first base Monday by bringing back a player familiar to the club’s fans.

The Brewers signed veteran Lyle Overbay to a minor-league deal with an invitation to their spring training camp. Overbay, who will be 37 in a week, was Milwaukee’s starting first baseman in 2004 and 2005.

Overbay played last season for the New York Yankees, seeing action in 142 games. The left-handed hitter batted .240 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI, with a .295 on-base percentage and .393 slugging percentage.

Overbay is the second veteran signed to a minor-league deal in the past few days to fill the void at first base created when free agent Corey Hart departed to sign with the Seattle Mariners. The Brewers previously added Mark Reynolds, who became a Yankees teammate of Overbay’s last August after being released by Cleveland.

“Now people are saying, ‘You have too many first basemen. How are your going to play them all?'" general manager Doug Melvin said. “They will determine that. We’ll have enough first basemen now. We’ll take a look at all of them.

“Everybody has their pluses—certain things they do better than others. We’ll see what they can do. Lyle had two of his best years in Milwaukee.”

In 2004, Overbay set the Brewers’ record with 53 doubles. In his two seasons in Milwaukee, he batted .289 with 35 home runs and 87 doubles. Overbay was traded to Toronto after the ‘05 season to open first base for young slugger Prince Fielder.

Overbay batted .190 with a .516 OPS against left-handed pitchers last season but .258 with a .748 OPS vs. righties. Unlike other candidates at first base, including Juan Francisco, Overbay is an experienced first baseman with a track record of handling himself well in the field.

Asked if both Reynolds and Overbay could make the club, Melvin said, “That might be the way we go. It doesn’t have to be a strict platoon. You can play the guy who’s hot. Lyle is more of an experienced first baseman but Reynolds has played there a lot the last two seasons.”

The Brewers had interest in signing Overbay last winter after Hart underwent knee surgery but he instead signed with the Boston Red Sox, who released him near the end of spring camp. He then signed with the Yankees, who needed a replacement for injured Mark Teixeira.

In 11-plus seasons in the majors, Overbay has batted .267 with a .348 OBP, 147 home runs, 342 doubles and 640 RBI. He has a career .995 fielding percentage.



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