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In Sports

Signed out of the independent Northern League last summer, Brandon Kintzler made his big league debut last Friday.

Brewers Notebook: Rogers, Kintzler overcome steep odds


The youth movement continues for the Brewers, who are running out the string on an otherwise lost season.

Two more rookies made their major-league debuts last week, both of them, doing so despite having to overcome steep odds.

Brandon Kintzler came on in relief Friday night, entering the game to replace starter Dave Bush after he allowed a walk and consecutive singles with two outs in the sixth inning.

Down, 3-0, at the time, the Brewers were still in striking distance so it was up to Kintzler to keep any more runs from crossing the plate.

Not exactly the ideal situation for a guy to make his debut but Kintzler wasn't complaining.

"Actually, it helped," Kintzler said, "I didn't have to worry about facing the hitter. It was 'OK, I've got to get the job done.' It was a 3-0 ballgame at that point, we were still in there. I just focused on the job and that helped a lot."

For Kintzler, his appearance was the culmination of a long journey that began four years ago while trying to advance in San Diego's system. Struggling with a bum shoulder, Kintzler was released by the Padres and underwent surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2006 season.

He took a chance by going to the Independent Northern League, signing on with the Winnepeg Goldeyes. He was traded to the St. Paul Saints before the 2009 season and earned a spot in the Northern League All-Star Game where he was discovered by a team scout.

He excelled at Class AA Huntsville last season and opened the 2010 campaign allowing just a run in 22 1/3 innings while converting all 10 of his save opportunities. That performance earned a promotion to Class AAA Nashville in June, where he went 3-0 with a 2.36 ERA in 22 relief appearances for the Sounds.

Then there's Mark Rogers, who came close to seeing his dreams derailed several times over the last few years. The right-hander was the Brewers' first round pick (fifth overall) in the 2004 but was sidelined by shoulder surgery that held him out of the 2007 and '08 seasons.

He's been pretty good since returning and was 6-8 with a 3.65 ERA this year in 24 starts with Class AA Nashville. He was added to the major league roster Friday and made his debut that night, working a perfect ninth inning against the Cubs.

"More than anything, it felt good to be out there," Rogers said. "I had to step back from the mound and, for a second, take it all in. Then I got back up there to do my job. I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't have a good time tonight."

Rogers will make a spot start this week in order to give the other five starters an extra day of rest as the Brewers wrap up the season with a string of 17 games in 17 days.

Both rookies have impressed manager Ken Macha with their work ethic.

"It's similar to Chris Capuano has been through," Macha said. "You really appreciate those guys who come back and make it there."

Meeting of the minds: Macha met with general manger Doug Melvin and assistant general manager Gord Ash prior to Sunday's game.

Macha's future with the team wasn't discussed during the meeting. Instead, the three went through a year-end review of the team's players.

Last year, Melvin announced that Macha, who was originally given a two-year contract, on the last day of the regular season and also added an option for 2011.

With a beleaguered pitching staff that practically eliminated the Brewers from playoff contention for most of the season, there's growing speculation that Macha will not be retained in 2011.

No winter decision for Cain: The team has been encouraging rookie centerfielder Lorenzo Cain to participate in winter baseball but he has yet to make a decision on whether or not to play.

He'd prefer to stay in the United States over the winter and work on adding some weight to his frame, but hasn't completely ruled winter ball out of the equation.

"Getting stronger is big for me," Cain said. "That's my main focus."

Writing on the wall: Manny Parra has been disappointing as a starting pitcher, testing the patience of the Brewers' front office, coaches and fans.

He's 2-7 with a 6.19 ERA in 16 starts this year but he's fared much better in relief, posting a 2.90 ERA with 30 strikeouts and 11 walks in 31 innings of work.

The 27-year-old may have run out of chances to become a starter but could be a valuable commodity out of the bullpen next year.

"Perhaps coming in out of the bullpen and just letting it rip is going to help him out," said Macha.

Davis set to return: Lefty Doug Davis, out since July with an elbow injury, will return to the team later this week.

Davis through a bullpen session Sunday and reported no adverse effects afterward. He'll throw to batters Wednesday at the team's spring training facility and is expected to return to the active roster Friday when the Brewers open a three-game series at San Francisco.

He will work out of the bullpen with the hopes of generating some interest after this season. He signed a one-year deal with the Brewers, who are likely to decline an option for 2011.

Quick hits: With the addition of Rodgers last week, the Brewers have five former first-round draft picks on the roster. He joins Prince Fielder (2002), Rickie Weeks ('03), Ryan Braun ('05) and Jeremy Jeffress ('06) ... Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster gave Trevor Hoffman a bottle of wine Friday to celebrate Hoffman's 600th save ... Parra hasn't allowed a run in his last seven outings ... Rickie Weeks celebrates his 28th birthday today ... Brewers starters have a 1.92 ERA in 10 games this month ... Casey McGehee is seven RBI away from 100 for the season ... The Brewers have stolen 15 consecutive bases and are 72-for-94 on the season ... John Axford has not allowed a run in his last 11 appearances ... Todd Coffey has allowed five runs in his last two outings ... Ryan Braun is the first player in franchise history to hit 20 or more home runs in his first four seasons ... Joe Inglett's 19 pinch hits lead all of baseball.

On the farm: Rookie League Helena defeated the Great Falls, 9-5, Sunday night to claim the Pioneer League's Northern Division crown. Catcher Rafael Neda went 3-for-4 with 2 RBI and DH Cody Hawn and RF John Dishon also drove in two runs apiece. Tyler Cravy got the win after allowing four runs on seven hits over six innings. Helena will face Southern Division champion Ogden Tuesday in the first game of the league championship series.

He said it: "Unfortunately, I was part of the problem this year by not getting my job done early and getting some momentum going." -- Trevor Hoffman on his early-season struggles.

This week: The Brewers open a six-game, seven-day road trip tonight in Houston, where Chris Narveson (11-7, 5.20) faces the Astros' Brett Myers (11-7, 2.91). After taking Thursday off, Milwaukee heads west to face the Giants in San Francisco.


Talkbacks

sandstorm | Sept. 14, 2010 at 6:10 a.m. (report)

can you dudes get Packers off your brain for 2 seconds when writing about the Brewers? it's Mark Rogers, not Rodgers.

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