Brewers shake up roster with flurry of moves
Gennett promoted from Triple-A; club acquires Francisco from Braves
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers made significant changes to their roster Monday by recalling a top prospect from Triple-A and completing a trade with the Braves.
New to the team are second baseman Scooter Gennett, the Brewers' sixth-best prospect according to MLB.com, and third baseman Juan Francisco, acquired in a trade that sent Minor League left-hander Thomas Keeling to Atlanta.
Gone from the Brewers' active roster is right-hander Mike Fiers, who was optioned to Triple-A Nashville a day after what he termed an "embarrassing" performance in a loss to the Phillies, and veteran infielder Alex Gonzalez, who was released.
"We're younger today, we're more left-handed today and it gives [manager] Ron [Roenicke] more options, more balance to the club," general manager Doug Melvin said.
Indeed, the Brewers are adding a pair of left-handed hitters in Gennett, who will share time at second base with the slumping Rickie Weeks, and Francisco, who will platoon with Yuniesky Betancourt at first base until Corey Hart returns from a knee injury that is taking longer than expected to heal. Francisco can also back up third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who has been playing about two of every three days since returning from a month-long absence with a sprained right knee.
Francisco, 25, is a career .254 hitter with 19 home runs and 77 RBIs in 209 Major League games with the Reds and Braves. He hit .241 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 35 games with Atlanta this season but was designated for assignment on Thursday.
Francisco was traveling from the Dominican Republic and is expected to be in uniform No. 21 for Tuesday's game against Oakland at Miller Park.
It could be a busy June for Brewers roster moves. Closer Jim Henderson is eligible to return from the DL beginning Sunday, and left-hander Chris Narveson is scheduled for the second of four Minor League rehabilitation starts on Tuesday. The club also faces a decision when starting pitching prospect Hiram Burgos is healthy enough to return from a right shoulder injury, and when Hart comes off the DL.
Gennett, 23, wore No. 2 for Monday's seven-game homestand opener, but did not start because a left-hander, Tommy Milone, was on the mound for the A's. Gennett batted .297 with a .342 on-base percentage at Triple-A Nashville and offers Brewers manager Ron Roenicke another option at second base, where the incumbent Weeks has started to hit but entered the homestand with a .184 average and a .288 on-base percentage.
Roenicke said he was planning a platoon, "in general terms."
"It won't always be that way; it won't always be strictly lefty/righty," said Roenicke, who planned to give Gennett his first Major League start on Tuesday against A's right-hander A.J. Griffin.
After Monday, the Brewers were scheduled to face right-handed starting pitchers in five of the remaining six games on the homestand. After that it's off to Miami, where four of the five Marlins starters are right-handers, and Cincinnati, where all of the Reds starters are right-handers.
"I think [Gennett] is going to play against some right-handed pitchers, and we'll see what he can do," Melvin said. "Rickie may play against a right-hander occasionally -- we'll see who it is -- but it gives Ron more options with the lefty/righty thing. If Rickie was hitting .270 with home runs, we wouldn't do it at this time with Scooter, but this is the time to do it. I still think [Weeks can turn his season around]. I see too many good players in the same position, who will go through a bad month. There are other players struggling.
"I think this is the right time to bring Scooter for that reason. We don't have to keep running Rickie out there on an everyday basis, and he may come out of this -- it looks like he's coming out of it now by playing on a part-time basis. It looks like he's having a few better at-bats."
Gonzalez, 36, returned from knee surgery and was the Brewers' Opening Day first baseman, but he slipped to a backup role by batting .177 in his first 113 at-bats.
Fiers was sent down a day after he allowed seven runs (five earned) in 1 2/3 innings of an outing he termed an "embarrassing" loss to the Phillies on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.
The Brewers took two of three in Philadelphia for their first series win in a month, but they opened an Interleague series against the A's on Monday night in last place in the National League Central with a 21-34 record, 15 1/2 games behind the first-place Cardinals.