Gregg Hoffmann

Midwest Diamond Report - 2/28

Scooter Gennett knows second base is his to either grab on a daily basis or play his way out of the position.
 
Gone is Rickie Weeks, who platooned with Gennett last season. The Brewers do have a variety of infielders who could fill in at second in a pinch, but the position is Gennett’s at this point.
 
“It feels great,” Gennett said before a workout at the Maryvale spring training complex. “This is the first time I’ve been in camp knowing I can play every day. All you want is that kind of opportunity.
 
“At the same time, I’m not taking anything for granted. I’m going about by business in the same way as if I was fighting for a roster spot.”
Gennett hit .289 with nine homers and 54 RBIs in 440 at-bats last season. He hit .324 in 213 at-bats in 2013.
 
A lefthanded hitter, he faced primarily righthanded pitchers with Weeks playing against lefthanders. That’s raised some questions whether Gennett will hit against lefties.
 
“I think the main thing is to get the opportunity to hit against them,” Gennett said. “When your opportunities are limited, you probably won’t hit them as well. I played fulltime in the minors and hit lefties.”
 
Gennett hit .285 against lefties in the minors in 2011, the last time he played fulltime.
 
At 5-10, 170, Gennett, whose real name is Ryan, is a scrappy player, somewhat in the mold of former Brewer Jim Gantner.
 
He considers himself a “top of the lineup hitter,” but says he’ll bat anywhere in the order.
 
“I led off or hit near the top of the order in the minors,” he said. “I still consider myself a top of the order hitter, but I’ll go wherever the skipper (manager Ron Roenicke) needs me.
 
“I think he’s mixed it up, depending on matchups and our needs. When Carlos (Gomez) leads off, he can give you a 1-0 lead with one swing of the bat. We have other guys who could lead off. I’ll bat first, second, ninth, wherever they need me. As long as I can contribute.”
 
Gennett has been the leadoff hitters in early Cactus League games, but then many of the regulars have not appeared in those games.
“That’s in part what spring training is about,” Gennett said. “You try to work out those things here. Then, you make adjustments as the season goes on.”
 
“Updated Notes
(Some of these notes come from www.mlbtraderumors.com )

Brewers
 
** Catcher Jonathan Lucroy is on schedule in his rehab for a hamstring problem and expects to me ready by Opening Day.
** The Brewers committed five errors in their first 10 innings of Cactus League play.
** Luis Jimenez , who is out of options, is competing with Luis Sardinas and Hector Gomez for a utility infield role with the Brewers.
 
Cubs
 
** LHP Jon Lester struck out three in two scoreless innings in his spring debut as a Cub. 3B Kris Bryant hit his first home run of the spring Saturday.
** The Cubs set a record for the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues with a crowd of 15,331 on Friday.
** LHP Phil Coke underwent a physical Friday and will officially join the Cubs on a Minor League contract.
 
Twins
 
** Rule 5 pick J. R. Graham, a former top prospect who dealt with a right shoulder strain that caused him to miss most of the 2013 season, fared well in his Grapefruit League debut, tossing two scoreless innings while repeatedly hitting 96 mph on the radar gun.
** Twins catcher Josmil Pinto was held of action with tenderness in a hamstring and is day to day.
** RHP Phil Hughes labored through his first outing Saturday, allowing three hits in one inning of work, plus facing two hitters in the second. RHP Ervin Santana is scheduled to make his spring debut Sunday.
 
White Sox
 
** RHP Hector Noesi retired all six Seattle hitters faced at Camelback Ranch Saturday, throwing 18 strikes among his 28 pitches.
** Closer David Robertson could get in his first Cactus League game Monday at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
** Services were held Friday and Saturday for Minnie Minoso, the White Sox’s first black player, who died last Sunday.
 
Ernie’s Funeral Expenses
 
The Cubs are going to pay for the funeral of legendary infielder Ernie Banks after the company that handled the services filed a claim that it hadn't been paid amid a legal battle over the Hall of Famer's estate.
 
A report from the Associated Press (via the Chicago Tribune) states the $35,000 cost will be covered by the Cubs after they found out about the situation through the media. Team spokesman Julian Green said it will be handled early next week.
 
"We learned of the story through the news media, saw that the funeral home had filed a claim," Green said. "We weren't aware that the bill had not been handled. After that, we immediately called the funeral home and told them we would take care of it on Monday."
 
The Old College Try
 
The UWM Panthers opened the Brewers spring training schedule with an exhibition at Maryvale on Wednesday. It was the first game for the Brewers against a college team since 1983 when they played Arizona State, and the first time UWM met a big league club.
 
“This is very exciting for the guys and everybody involved,” UWM coach Scott Doffek said before his club dropped a 8-0 decision to the Brewers. “This is the level everybody wants to get to. To play here, against the hometown big league team is a real experience. The
Brewers have been just great.”
 
What’s Ahead
 
The first MDR matchup in the Cactus League will take place this week when the Cubs travel to Maryvale to take on the Brewers March 14.
 
The Brewers will take on the Cubs again on April 1 in Mesa. Milwaukee will play the White Sox on March 22.
 
Other meetings between MDR teams will take place on March 20 when the Cubs will play the White Sox in Glendale and March 27 when the Sox travel to Mesa to play the Cubs.
 
##
 
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