Greinke addresses contract talks

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Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Friday, April 13, 2012
— Two days after Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said he’d tabled discussions with agent Casey Close about a possible contract extension for pitcher Zack Greinke, the right-hander addressed the situation briefly.

“I’ve been told that it’s just between my agent and the team now,” he said following the Brewers’ 8-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon. Greinke started and lasted just 3 2/3 innings, being roughed up for nine hits and eight earned runs.

Greinke was asked if he was discouraged by the fact the two sides are no longer talking.

“It’d have been nice,” he said. “I thought it might have been a long shot from the beginning, but it’s up to them now. They’re just doing it.”

While both Greinke and the Brewers have been tight-lipped about any potential negotiations since the start of spring training, it’s no secret they’d like to work out something long-term with the 28-year-old. Greinke’s recent hiring of Close appeared as though it could have been a step in that direction.

Milwaukee surrendered a huge package of prospects to the Kansas City Royals when it acquired Greinke via trade in December 2010. Should he reach free agency, he’s likely to be one of the most coveted starting pitchers on the market.

What appeared to be a fairly clear-cut market for starters of Greinke’s caliber took an unexpected upward turn last week, when the San Francisco Giants signed right-hander Matt Cain to a five-year, $112 million extension. It’s unclear whether the Brewers have the financial means or motivation to offer Greinke something similar or even more lucrative, if need be.

Manager Ron Roenicke was asked before the game if he was looking at this as Greinke’s last year with the Brewers.

“No, and I don’t think Zack feels that way, either,” he said. “Zack likes it here, he does. And if things work out, great. That’s the issues that you have with free agency, that we had with Prince ( Fielder) last year. Prince kept his focus where it should be all last year, didn’t talk about it much and Zack is definitely capable of doing that.”

Looking to heat up

Aramis Ramirez’s return tour to his former stomping grounds ended when he was given the day off by Roenicke.

Roenicke said it’s something that has been in the works with the third baseman, not performance-based. Still, it’s hard not to notice Ramirez has been scuffling a bit.

Signed to replace Fielder as the Brewers’ cleanup hitter, Ramirez is hitting .091—lowest among the regulars—and slugging just .192 while also striking out a team-high seven times.

He has the reputation of being a slow starter, in large part because of the eight seasons he spent playing in Wrigley Field and dealing with the cold and wind. Still, Ramirez is a .257 hitter in March and April over the course of his 15-year career, which isn’t as bad as some might expect.

“I know he’s not getting many hits. I know he’s having some good at-bats,” Roenicke said. “Yesterday he hit a bullet to third base and it ended up being a double play. Day before, should have had a home run, wind’s blowing in. He had the big hit at home in that second game (against St. Louis) to get us a win.”

While he doesn’t have much to show for it in the way of base hits, Ramirez already has five RBIs, tying him with the surprising George Kottaras for the team lead.

Roenicke said Ramirez will be back in the lineup for all three of the Brewers’ games this weekend in Atlanta against the Braves.

Finding his niche

Speaking of Kottaras, the Brewers’ backup catcher is second on the team in hitting at .429 after getting an unexpected start on Wednesday. His homer—the second of the season for him—wound up being the difference in a 2-1 win.

Since he was recalled from Class AAA Nashville last June during a series at Wrigley Field, Kottaras has done nothing but solidify his spot on the team with both his left-handed bat as well as improved defense.

“He’s strong,” Roenicke said. “You watch him in batting practice, balls jump off his bat. I think he’s improved a lot in his catching. (Bench coach) Jerry (Narron) feels very comfortable about him going back there and catching. He was hitting near .400 when we called him back up last year.

“I know that the average wasn’t that good at the end of the year last year, but his hits were big. He doesn’t chase things; he’ll take a walk. He’s up there fighting. But not just fighting—if they make a mistake, he can really hurt a baseball.”

Braddock shut down again

Left-handed reliever Zach Braddock, sent to class AAA Nashville in spring training, has been placed on the team’s temporary inactive list.

Braddock has battled a sleep disorder and personal issues over the last year both with the Brewers and Nashville. The Brewers had been exploring the possibility of having him start games for the Sounds to help him regain velocity.

Last updated: 8:09 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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