Greinke halts talks

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Tom Haudricourt/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
— The Milwaukee Brewers' chances of keeping right-hander Zack Greinke off the free-agent market took a hit when the sides decided to table discussions for a contract extension.

"I talked with Casey Close (Grieinke's agent) and we decided to let it rest for now," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said Tuesday. "That doesn't mean we won't talk again at some point but we're going to let it rest right now."

Greinke hired Close just before the start of the season, which some took as a sign that talks would continue, allowing Greinke to focus on pitching. But the bar was raised when San Francisco's Matt Cain signed a five-year, $112.5 million extension, raising his total pay over six years to $127.5 million.

Before hiring Close, Greinke represented himself in talks with Melvin and team principal owner Mark Attanasio. Melvin and Attanasio let Greinke know it was a priority to keep him in Milwaukee but the pitcher told reporters early in spring camp that free agency also intrigued him.

Beyond Greinke's fine showing in 2011 (16-6, 3.83 ERA in 28 starts), the Brewers would like to keep him after surrendering a package of top prospects to Kansas City to acquire him in December 2010, including shortstop Alcides Escobar and right-handers Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi.

Greinke, who had a stellar spring camp, pitched seven shutout innings Saturday against St. Louis in his first start of the season.

That same month, the Brewers dealt their top prospect, third baseman Brett Lawrie, to Toronto for right-hander Shaun Marcum, who also will be a free agent after this season. Marcum has made it known that he'd like to stay in Milwaukee, but the Brewers have yet to show interest in extending him.

The Brewers would have a negotiating window with Greinke after the season, but once prospective free agents get that close they usually test the market. That would put the Brewers at a disadvantage with teams that have more spending power.

Melvin also indicated nothing is imminent in talks with closer John Axford for a contract extension.

Watching the weather

After avoiding any early-season games against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field last year, the Brewers have spent the first few days of their four-game series dealing with the elements.

In the opener Monday, there were strong winds gusting from left to right field. By late in the game Tuesday, temperatures dipped into the low 30s with the wind chill factored in to go along with swirling winds.

In short, the conditions weren't exactly conducive to baseball. Still, Brewers players suited up with thermal wear and hoods under their uniforms and did the best they could to deal with it on the field.

"It's got a lot of effect on the game—the wind especially," manager Ron Roenicke said. "The cold is one thing, but the wind seems to go through you more, obviously, when you start talking about wind chills instead of just temperatures. But it's the way the ball jumps around. All kinds of goofy things happen when you have strong winds.

"Then you mix that with the cold and you're not loose anyway, and now you're trying to react to something that's a little different and your body's not quite able to get there."

Movin' on up

Axford admittedly hasn't been at his sharpest so far, with a 13.50 earned-run average and a WHIP of 3.00 in two appearances.

But with his first save of the season Monday night, he extended his consecutive games-saved streak to 44. That's fifth-longest in major-league history, with Eric Gagne's 84-game streak likely to stand for quite some time.

The consistency such lofty numbers require is what stands out most to Axford.

"If I can become more consistent in this job, I'm just going to get better and better," he said. "So that's just what I want to try and do each and every year. I started the season last year and I wasn't very consistent; right now I'm trying to be more consistent.

"I think that's it—the consistency factor. If you stay on that, obviously you'll succeed."

No night vision

Centerfielder Nyjer Morgan said he never saw the towering fly hit by Geovany Soto in the fifth inning Monday night that dropped behind him for a triple and led to a tainted run for the Cubs.

"Off contact, I just lost it," he said. "It was unfortunate because Marcum was pitching good and it gave them a little rally. As soon as it got above the lights, I lost it.

"I just need to get my eyes adjusted to the darkness again. We played nothing but day games in spring training. I had a struck-by-lightning look out there. It's a bad feeling when you can't see the ball. Geovany saw it, too, and he took off out of the box."

Last updated: 8:10 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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