Friday State Sports Briefs: Brewer reliver Rodriguez returns to New YorkWisconsin Sports
-- Milwaukee reliever Francisco Rodriguez returns to New York tonight for the first time since the Mets sent him to the Brewers in mid-July.
NEW WORK - Milwaukee reliever Francisco Rodriguez returns to New York tonight for the first time since the Mets sent him to the Brewers in mid-July.
He was traded mainly because of a clause in his contract that would have forced the Mets to pay him $17-million next year if he kept closing games. When he got to Milwaukee, Rodriguez voluntarily dropped that clause. Since then, K-Rod has gotten comfortable as the eighth-inning set up man for closer John Axford – who with 36 saves is one short of the National League lead. Rodriguez is 2-0 with the Brewers in 14 appearances with an ERA of just over two. And he and Axford have become quite the one-two punch for Milwaukee in the late innings of a close game. Also, the Brewer bullpen as a whole has improved immensely since K-Rod’s arrival. The relievers’ ERA dropped from four to two-point-two-three during that time. Rodriguez spent two-and-a-half years in the Big Apple. He said he has lots of good friends there. But when the game begins, quote, “I’m going to compete and that’s it.” Rodriguez has missed the last four games after getting cramps in both his legs last Saturday. Right-hander Shaun Marcum will start for the Brewers in the series’ opener tonight against Mets’ right-hander Mike Pelfrey.
The Brewers have won five-of-their-last-six road games – and they hope to continue that trend tonight in New York against the Mets. The Brewers are coming off a 5-1 home loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers yesterday which snapped a six-game winning streak. But they’ve still won 19-of-their-last-22 contests – and they have a six-and-a-half game division lead over second-place Saint Louis in the National League Central. The Cardinals were off yesterday. Brewers’ manager Ron Roenicke says he’s not bothered by the loss to LA, because they faced great pitching. Right-hander Shaun Marcum will start for the Brewers in the Big Apple tonight against Mets’ right-hander Mike Pelfrey.
Brewers’ left-hander Chris Narveson might not be ready to return on Monday night as expected. Narveson missed his last two starts, after cutting his left thumb while trying to repair his glove last week. Eight stitches have since been removed, but manager Ron Roenicke says the wound is still there. He says Narveson will throw a bullpen session tomorrow in New York – and if it does not go well, he won’t pitch in the second game of Monday night’s double-header at Pittsburgh. Marco Estrada has replaced Narveson the last two games – but he went yesterday, so Roenicke might have to find someone else to start Monday’s nightcap. The skipper says relievers Tim Dillard or Frankie De La Cruz might get the start – or the Brewers could call up somebody from Triple-“A” for the night.
Central Wisconsin native Jordan Zimmermann threw a gem last night, as his Washington Nationals beat Cincinnati at home 3-1. Zimmermann, an Auburndale native and former UW-Stevens Point starter, threw five-and-two-thirds shutout innings as he improved his record to 8-and-10. He gave up two walks and six hits. Zimmermann is expected to be shut down for the season in the next couple weeks. The Nationals are limiting his innings, after he sat out for a year while recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstructive surgery.
Both Wisconsin teams in the Class-“A” Midwest League will try to recover from road losses tonight. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are at Peoria, where they lost to the Chiefs 5-4 last evening. The Beloit Snappers are at Kane County, where they were shut out 2-nothing on Thursday. It put Kane County back in sole possession of first place in the Western Division. The Cougars are a game ahead of Quad Cities, seven ahead of Beloit, and nine ahead of the Timber Rattlers. Quad Cities plays at Clinton tonight. Burlington hosts Cedar Rapids. East leader Dayton entertains Great Lakes. West Michigan is at Fort Wayne. Bowling Green hosts Lansing. And Lake County plays at South Bend.
Former UW-Green Bay men’s basketball standout Tony Bennett has been named one of Top-30 distinguished contributors in the history of the Summit League. And Bennett’s father Dick was named an additional “honored” contributor. The Summit League is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and it was known as the Mid-Continent Conference when Green Bay was in it from 1989-through-’94. Tony Bennett is the Green Bay’s all-time leading scorer, and he was named twice as the league’s player-of-the-year. Dick Bennett coached at UWGB from 1985-through-’95 before moving on to Wisconsin. Tony Bennett is now the head coach at University of Virginia.
The University of Wisconsin football team has announced its non-conference schedule for next year. The Badgers will open at home on September first against the University ofNorthern Iowa. On the eighth, they’ll play at Oregon State. They’re back home next September 15th to face Utah State. And on September 22nd, they’ll host Texas-El Paso. The 2012 Big Ten schedule was announced earlier. It begins next October sixth when the Badgers host Illinois. They’ll also play home games against Minnesota, Michigan State, and Ohio State – plus road contests at Purdue, Indiana, and Penn State.
The Milwaukee Bucks have announced a seven-game exhibition schedule to be played if the NBA owners’ lockout is finished by then. The opener is set for October 11th at Cleveland. There’s only one exhibition scheduled at the Bradley Center – the annual MAACC Fund Game against Washington on October 15th. The Bucks also have an exhibition planned at the Resch Center in Green Bay. The Detroit Pistons would be the opponent there on October 21st.
One of Wisconsin’s top girls’ high school basketball guards will play her college ball in Madison. Nicole Bauman of New Berlin Eisenhower gave a verbal commitment to the Wisconsin Badgers yesterday. She chose the U-W over Marquette and Bradley. Bauman was a coaches’ All-State first team selection last spring, and she made the AP’s third-team. She led Eisenhower to a Division-Two state title in her sophomore year. And she averaged 15-and-a-half points, six assists, and four steals a game in her junior season.