WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Braun looks to return to the line-up tonight vs. Pittsburgh
MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee Brewers have gone 6-8 in Ryan Braun's latest absence -- and barring any setbacks, Braun will return to the lineup tonight when the Crew hosts Pittsburgh.
He's been out since April 26th, when he strained his right rib-cage. Skipper Ron Roenicke said his starting right-fielder had a solid batting practice session on Sunday -- and he received more treatment yesterday while the Brewers were off. Meanwhile, the Crew will be without one and maybe two of its other offensive threats tonight. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez could go on the disabled list when Braun is officially recalled later today. Ramirez strained a hamstring on a defensive play Saturday night. And we still don't know if Carlos Gomez will be suspended during the Pirate series, after he had his appeal hearing last Friday for a three-game punishment after his role in a bench-clearing brawl at Pittsburgh last month. Marco Estrada will start for Milwaukee tonight against Gerrit Cole.
As Carlos Gomez was waiting to find out today about his possible suspension, folks were still buzzing about the pink goatee he wore on Mother's Day. The Brewers' center-fielder told reporters it was a dare from his wife Gerandy, who said her husband would not wear a pink beard -- and when he painted it, she called him "crazy." Gomez said he thought it would be a "cool thing" to do to salute mothers everywhere. He noted it was not Mother's Day in his home Dominican Republic -- but regardless, Gomez said it was still a special day, because he first got called up to the Majors on Mother's Day seven years ago. Meanwhile, Gomez was still waiting early this afternoon to learn about his possible punishment from Major League Baseball for his role in a bench-clearing brawl at Pittsburgh last month. He was given a three-game suspension, but he appealed in the hopes of getting it reduced.
Three Brewers' prospects have received weekly player honors in their respective minor leagues. Chris McFarland of the Class-"A" Wisconsin Timber Rattlers was the Midwest League's offensive player-of-the-week. Former Milwaukee first-round draft choice Jeb Bradley of Class-"A" Brevard County was the honored pitcher in the Florida State League. And Tyler Cravy of Double-"A" Huntsville was the Southern League's pitcher-of-the-week. McFarland, a 21-year-old infielder, homered twice in three games against Cedar Rapids this past weekend. He was an 18th-round draft pick in 2011. Bradley, a left-hander, earned his second pitching honor of the season after throwing six-and-two-thirds scoreless innings against Daytona. Bradley, one of two first-round picks by the Brewers in 2011, is now second in his league with 42 strikeouts in 39 innings. Cravy, a 24-year-old right-hander, won his fifth straight start for Huntsville this past week as he struck out 14 in 13 innings. Cravy leads the Southern League with six victories this season.
In the Midwest League, the Beloit Snappers will try to win their second straight home game over Kane County tonight. The Snappers beat the Cougars 6-1 yesterday. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will host Quad Cities again, on the heels of a 4-3 Rattlers' loss. Both Wisconsin teams are at the bottom of the Western Division standings. The Snappers are last at 14-22 for the first half, while the Timber Rattlers are second-to-last among the eight West teams at 16-20.
The Green Bay Packers have announced the signings of 12 undrafted free agents. That includes Alabama outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard, who said he wasn't drafted because of a minor heart abnormality that was cured this spring. Hubbard passed his Green Bay physical, and he's scheduled to take part in the team's rookie orientation camp this weekend. Besides Hubbard, the Packers signed six other defensive players -- linemen Carlos Gray and Mike Pennel, corner Ryan White, and linebackers Jake Doughty, Joe Thomas, and Jayrone Elliott. Five offensive players were signed -- quarterback Chase Rettig, guard Jordan McCray, tight end Justin Perillo, and running backs LaDarius Perkins and Rajion Neal. Also, the Packers released outside linebacker Chase Thomas. He was signed as a street free agent in early January. The Packers also announced a couple of new vice presidents. Craig Benzel was promoted to the VP of sales and business development, after heading the team's marketing and corporate sales for 12 years. Gabrielle Valdez-Dow was brought in as the new vice president of marketing and fan engagement. She was a marketing VP for Baltimore since 2006.
The Packers will hold their first training camp practice on Saturday, July 26th. That's a day after players report. Starting times have not been announced yet for the camp workouts. Fans can also attend three off-season practices on May 29th, June third, and June 10th. They're expected to begin around 11:30 a-m. The Packers' mandatory mini-camp for players will also be open to fans. That's set for June 17th-through-19th.
Vince Young's latest comeback attempt lasted 12 days, as the former Green Bay quarterback was cut yesterday by Cleveland. Young signed with the Browns on May first. But they no longer needed him after drafting quarterback Johnny Manziel in the first round last week, and signing Connor Shaw from South Carolina as an undrafted free agent. The 30-year-old Young was the third overall pick in the 2006 Draft when he was taken by Tennessee. But he has not played in a regular season NFL game since 2011 when he was with Philadelphia. Buffalo cut Young during the 2012 pre-season, an the Packers did the same a year ago. In a six-year pro career, Young has completed 58-percent of his passes for 8,964 yards and 46 touchdowns.
The Miami Dolphins will get a look at former Waupaca High School quarterback Brock Jensen. The Dolphins signed Jensen to a free-agent contract after the NFL Draft ended late Saturday. The Baltimore Sun said he'll get a $10,000 signing bonus, plus five-thousand in other guarantees. Jensen played his college ball at North Dakota State, and was the winningest quarterback in the history of the FCS. He completed 62-and-a-half percent of his passes with the Bison for 8,598 yards and 72 touchdowns. Jensen also ran for 1,240 career yards with 35 TD's on the ground. He was not invited to February's NFL Scouting Combine, but he did well at his pro-day two months ago in Fargo.
Steve Stricker of Madison moved up one place to 15th in the new World Golf Rankings. That's after he tied for 13th at The Players Championship in Florida during the weekend. Jerry Kelly of Madison dropped one spot to 133rd in the world. Pewaukee native Mark Wilson fell five places to 265th. Both Kelly and Wilson missed the weekend cut at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. The top-six spots in the World Rankings are unchanged from a week ago. Tiger Woods is first followed by Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, and Jason Day. Martin Kaymer jumped from 61st place to 28th, after he won The Players. It was his first U.S. victory since he won the PGA Championship in 2010 at Whistling Straits near Sheboygan.
UW-Green Bay center Alec Brown is expected to take part in the NBA Draft Combine on Thursday and Friday in Chicago. The 7-1 Brown averaged almost 16 points and five-and-a-half rebounds a game in his senior year at Green Bay, and was named the Horizon League's defensive player-of-the-year. Also on the combine roster is Thanasis Antetokounmpo, brother of Milwaukee Bucks' forward Giannis. Thanasis played for Delaware last season in the NBA Developmental League. Glenn Robinson III from Michigan, son of the former Bucks' star, will also be at the combine. Milwaukee general manager John Hammond and assistant GM David Morway will scout out the prospects, as they prepare for the late June draft.
UW-Whitewater will play on Friday in the Super-Regional round of the NCAA Division III softball tournament. The Warhawks won the Chicago Regional yesterday with a pair of victories over Benedictine, 7-5 and 5-2. Whitewater senior second baseman Kelly McGail was named the outstanding player of the regional. She homered to start the scoring in the final against Benedictine. The locations for the Super Regionals were not announced as of mid-morning. Those games will be played on Friday and Saturday. The eight survivors will square off in the double-elimination national finals to be played May 22nd through 27th in Tyler, Texas.
UW-Eau Claire will look for a new swim coach. Men's-and-women's coach Art Brandt says he'll retire at the end of the school year. He's been with the Eau Claire program for the last decade, and was the head coach since 2008. His swimmers earned 26 All-American honors, plus 34 individual WIAC conference golds and two relay titles.
Wisconsin will have two teams in the NCAA Division I softball tournament. UW-Madison will play Albany on Friday at the Oregon Regional in Eugene and UW-Green Bay will play Minnesota on Friday at a regional the Gophers are hosting in Minneapolis. Green Bay punched its ticket by winning the Horizon League Tournament over the weekend. The Phoenix are 27-12, and will open against the only seeded team in their regional, Minnesota which is 41-9. The Gophers won the Big Ten tournament title over the weekend, while the Badgers were eliminated by Michigan. Wisconsin is 34-18 going into the Oregon Regional. They'll open against an Albany team that's 34-18. The winners from the double-elimination regionals will advance to the Super Regionals, which open a week from Thursday. The Badgers are playing in their second straight NCAA tourney. Green Bay is making its first appearance since 2005.
In Major League Baseball...
Chicago Cubs 17, Saint Louis 5
Oakland 5, Chicago White Sox 4
Detroit 4, Baltimore 1
In the Midwest League...
Beloit 6, Kane County 1
Quad Cities 4, Wisconsin 3