Morning State Sports Briefs: No wholeseale changes for Brewers in offseasonWisconsin Sports
-- Milwaukee Brewers’ general manager Doug Melvin says the team’s late-season comeback convinced him that wholesale changes will not be necessary for 2013.
MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee Brewers’ general manager Doug Melvin says the team’s late-season comeback convinced him that wholesale changes will not be necessary for 2013.
At the Brewers’ season-ending news conference yesterday, Melvin said he would only need to fine-tune the starting positions – and he’d like to add another starting pitcher over the winter. The GM expects Corey Hart to stay at first base and Norichika Aoki to remain in right field – and that means Mat Gamel might have to play a utility role when he returns from a torn ACL knee injury. Also, Carlos Gomez is expected to keep getting more playing time in center, after he had his best season at the plate with a .260 batting average, 37 stolen bases, and 19 homers. Logan Schafer could move into the backup spot in center if the struggling Nyjer Morgan is cut. Melvin says his biggest task will be to have an experienced starter join Yovani Gallardo. Shaun Marcum is expected to shop around as a free agent. And Melvin was not sure about Milwaukee’s chances of keeping him – especially with his elbow problems and the seven-million-dollar-plus salary he made this year. There’s been talk that Angels’ free agent Zack Greinke might be interested in returning, after he was traded in July. Greinke turned down a five-year, $100-million offer to stay with Milwaukee – and Melvin says his gut feeling is that the Brewers will not go after any high-priced free agents. Changes are also expected in the bullpen, where Kameron Loe, Manny Parra, and Jose Veras are all up for salary arbitration.
Milwaukee Brewers’ prospect Hunter Morris was named today as a Gold Glove winner for first basemen in the 10 full-time minor leagues. He led all regular first basemen in the Double-“A” Southern League with a .995 fielding percentage – and he committed only six errors at first base all season. The award is just the latest for Morris, who turns 24 on Sunday. He was also named the Southern League MVP while playing for the Huntsville Stars. Morris batted .303 in 136 games this year – and he led the Southern League with 28 homers, 113 RBI’s, 74 extra-base hits, 294 total bases, and a .563 slugging percentage. He tied a Huntsville season record with 40 doubles – and he was the first Stars’ player to win the league MVP honor since Corey Hart did it in 2003.
Green Bay Packers’ starting guard T.J. Lang is due back at practice today, after he went to see his family in Michigan yesterday following the death of his grandmother. Elizabeth Lang died on Monday, nine months after Lang’s 55-year-old father passed away. Back-up center Evan Dietrich-Smith said the offensive line players gave Lang a prayer before he left on Wednesday. He called Lang a “fighter” and said, quote: “He does a good job holding it in, and not letting it affect his play – but we all feel really deeply for him.” Meanwhile, receiver Greg Jennings has been ruled out for Sunday’s Packer game at Indianapolis. Jennings aggravated a groin injury last weekend against New Orleans – and he says he won’t return until he can move around without pain. The only other Packer who didn’t practice yesterday was rookie safety Sean Richardson, with an ongoing hamstring problem. Defensive end Ryan Pickett practiced on a limited basis with a brace for his sore shoulder and a bad knee. Coach Mike McCarthy says Pickett might have to play with the brace. The 2-2 Packers will face a 1-2 Colts’ team that’s coming off its bye week. Six Colts did not practice yesterday, including linebackers Pat Angerer and Robert Mathis – both of whom have foot injuries.
Green Bay Packers’ center Jeff Saturday says it will be awkward to return to the city where he spent 13 years snapping and blocking for Peyton Manning. The Packers travel to Indianapolis, where they’ll try to go above .500 on Sunday with a victory over the 1-2 Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Saturday will make his first visit to Indy since he left as a free agent after last season – but he won’t see many old-timers on the field. He knew there would be big changes as soon as the Colts chose quarterback Andrew Luck as the league’s Number-One draft pick. The Colts allowed a number of veterans to leave – including Manning, receiver Pierre Garcon, tight end Dallas Clark, and running back Joseph Addai. New coach Chuck Pagano expressed an interest in keeping Saturday. But the talks didn’t go far, and Saturday said he parted under the best possible terms. The Packers are only his second NFL team – and he said he chose Green Bay over Denver and Tennessee because he thought it would be the easiest transition for his wife and children. He said they love their new city and team. And Saturday said he’s pleased that the Packer offense is improving. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been sacked a league-high 16 times. But the offensive line gave up no sacks last Sunday in the win over New Orleans. And they gave Cedric Benson some room to roam, as he had 18 carries for 84 yards.
Madison native Pat Neshek will pitch in the post-season for the Oakland “A’s.” But for now, he’s mourning the death of his newborn son. Neshek left the A’s on Tuesday, as his wife Stephanee was about to give birth in Florida. But their infant son, Gehrig John Neshek, died 23 hours after his birth. The pitcher announced the death on Twitter. He was not with the A’s last night, when the team clinched the American League West Division crown on the final night of the regular season. Neshek was born in Madison and raised in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Park. He was a reliever for the Minnesota Twins from 2006-through-2010.
Men’s college hockey coaches in the WCHA predict that Wisconsin will finish fifth in the league this season. The annual preseason coaches’ poll by the Grand Forks Herald has Minnesota repeating as the league’s regular season champion. The Golden Gophers received all but one of the 12 first-place votes. North Dakota – which won the conference Final Five tournament – received the other first-place vote, and is picked to finish second. Denver is next followed by Saint Cloud State and then the Badgers. Last month, USA Today and USA Hockey Magazine ranked Wisconsin 15th in the country in their national preseason poll. Coach Mike Eaves will lead his Badgers in their first game on Saturday night. It’s an exhibition against the U.S. Under-18 team.
In Wisconsin high school football…
Hartland Arrowhead 52, Waukesha West 7
Owen-Withee 48, Wausau Newman 0