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April / May Transactions -- Latest: Woodward, Garciaparra Signed, Narveson to D.L.

First a link to the Offseason Transaction Thread, now closed.


Nashville Media Notes:


HOPF JOINS SOUNDS, PLACED ON D.L.: Catcher J.R. Hopf, who was Nashville's top hitter in last year's playoffs (.500, 5-for-10, 3 RBIs), has joined the Sounds today from Double-A Huntsville, where he spent the first four games of the season and was 0-for-3. The backstop has been placed on Nashville's disabled list, retroactive to Sunday. In 57 regular season games split between Advanced-A Brevard County and the Sounds last season, Hopf batted .226 (36-for-159) with five home runs and 17 RBIs.



This move is a pre-cursor to Angel Salome being activated for Huntsville, it seems.


Baseball America summarized recent Brewer moves as follows:

Released: C Brian Munhall

Placed on restricted list: RHP Jeremy Jeffress, RHP Matt Kretzschmar, RHP Juan Sandoval, C Matthew Czimskey, C D.J. Neyens, C Angel Salome

Placed on 7-day DL: RHP Thomas Atlee, RHP Mark DiFelice, RHP Richie Gardner, RHP Mark Rogers, RHP Travis Wendte, LHP Chris Cody, LHP Daniel Merklinger, C Lou Palmisano

Placed on temporarily inactive list: 1B Ned Yost


We had listed most of these earlier. Matt Czimskey, like D.J. Neyens, lost out to Ulrich Snijders on the West Virginia backup catcher slot. He'll be 24 in May, and is likely mulling over what options he may have (not many). Players often go on this list when they retire but do not file the official paperwork.

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Nashville Media Notes:


IRIBARREN CALLED UP BY BREWERS; GARDNER ACTIVATED: Outfielder Hernan Iribarren was recalled by the Milwaukee Brewers following their game last night. The 23-year-old opened the year by reaching base safely in six of Nashville's seven contests, batting .348 (8-for-23) over that stretch. Iribarren will make his Major League debut upon his first appearance with the Brew Crew. He takes the place of former Sounds OF Tony Gwynn, Jr., who was placed on the Brewers' 15-day D.L. with a strained left hamstring.


To fill Iribarren's roster spot, pitcher Richie Gardner has been activated from the disabled list. The 26-year-old right-hander was acquired by Milwaukee late in spring training off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds. Last season, he pitched at three levels in Cincy's system -- Class A Sarasota (5-1, 1.65 ERA in 7G), Class AA Chattanooga (2-1, 1.82 in 6G) and Class AAA Louisville (4-5, 5.71 in 13G).


GALLARDO ALSO DEPARTS: In another Brewers transaction last night, right-hander Yovani Gallardo was recalled from his rehab assignment with the Sounds but was not activated from the disabled list, leaving open the possibility of re-joining Nashville for an additional rehabilitation start during the club's upcoming homestand. In two starts, Gallardo went 0-1 with a 4.82 ERA (5 ER / 9.1 IP).


Here's the thread that is discussing the Iribarren / Gwynn / Gallardo aspect of this on the Major League Forum.


August 22, 2004 -- the day Hernan took his .439 Arizona League average to Beloit; man, it was fun following his Maryvale numbers that summer.

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Nashville Media Notes:


Sounds catcher Eric Munson was placed on the disabled list prior to Saturday's doubleheader with visiting Iowa. He injured his left hip flexor during the recent season-opening road trip.


To replace Munson, catcher Martin Maldonado was promoted from Class A Brevard County. In three Florida State League games, Maldonado hit .364 (4-for-11) with four RBIs.


This marks Maldonado's first appearance above Class A in his five-year career.


Munson played in six of the opening eight games, hitting .100 (2-for-20) with a double.




You'd think depending on the severity of Munson's injury, the Brewers will be on the lookout for a veteran. Perhaps Brian Munhall, released at the end of spring training, would come back. More likely is that J.R. Hopf will be activated from the DL when eligible on the 14th.

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Nashville Media Notes:

As expected...


HOPF ACTIVATED; MALDONADO RETURNED TO BREVARD COUNTY: Catcher J.R. Hopf has been activated from the Sounds' disabled list and replaces fellow backstop Martin Maldonado on the club's active roster. Maldonado, who did not appear in a game during his three days with Nashville, has been returned to Advanced-A Brevard County, where he opened the campaign. Hopf, who batted .226 (36-for-159) with five home runs and 17 RBIs in 57 games between two clubs last season, was Nashville's top hitter in the 2007 playoffs (.500, 5-for-10, 3 RBIs). He spent the first four games of the 2008 season at Double-A Huntsville and was 0-for-3.

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Promising LHP Zach Braddock has been activated from the West Virginia disabled list and is the starting pitcher for the Power Tuesday night in Lexington. There was an open spot on the Power roster.


As we will note in the Link Report shortly, the game is available not only to listen to (free) but watch (small fee) for those diehard Power or prospect fans.


Now I have the MLB.TV Premium package, and it seems I can pull up an archive from MiLB.TV such as from April 20th without a prompt for a fee, just the log-in ID. So some folks may be able to tune in tonight via that route.

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In order to make room for RHP Mark DiFelice on Nashville's roster, LHP Lindsay Gulin has been placed on the seven-day DL with an "undisclosed" injury.


All due respect to the Brewers' organization and in particular Gulin or Mel Stocker if the injuries are indeed of a valid nature -- it's not like other organizations don't play games with their rosters while buying time to make more permanent decisions.

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From the Gabe Gross to Tampa Bay for high-A RHP Josh Butler thread in the Major League Forum

From a Web site called www.draysbay.com

#17 - Josh Butler, RHP

Talk about a tale of two seasons. Butler had arguably the best numbers of a very talented Columbus Catfish staff, but got called up to Vero Beach toward the end of June and simply got rocked, missed nearly a month of starts, came back and was slightly more effective.

The University of San Diego product was a surprise 2nd-rounder in 2006, as his draft stock had been falling in concert with his productivity, which sparked concerns over his durability. At his best, Butler throws a low-90s fastball with good sinking actions as well as two serviceable breaking pitches and a changeup. But something really got out of whack in Vero Beach: In 49 innings there, he allowed 9 homeruns. In his previous 357 innings(combined college and pro), he allowed a total of 13.

Before the 2006 draft, BaseballAmerica mentioned that a taxing delivery might be to be blame for his decline over the course of his junior year. The report was that he didn't incorporate his lower body enough, and that's practically inviting an arm injury. Judging from the poor 2nd-half statistics and the time missed, I'd say the concerns over his delivery are as alive as ever. Part of the decline can be chalked up to being promoted a level, but the sharp HR rate increase makes me think it's something else, such as not finishing on his delivery and leaving more balls up.

2007 was the second straight year Butler underwhelmed toward the end. I can probably be accused of saying this too much, but I think it applies to Butler perhaps more than anyone: I think he should make a move to the bullpen. If it is a durability issue, limiting his innings could help. Also, if efforts are made to clean up his delivery, pitching in shorter spurts might allow him to better focus on incorporating those changes.

Then again, perhaps his poor finish was a result of the injury(I can't for the life of me find out why he missed those 3-4 starts). He was dominant in his final outing(7 innings, 2 hits, 7 strikeouts), so it might be best to see if a fully healthy Butler can be successful in Vero Beach as a starter. Either way, VB is almost certain to be where he opens 2008, and he's still got plenty to prove.

In a unique situation, Josh Butler simply had to change dugouts tonight (and uniforms) as the Manatees are playing at Vero Beach tonight.


Career Statistics through 2007


2008 Numbers




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At West Virginia, RHP Jared Sutton was activated from the 7-day DL; to make room, RHP Pedro Lambertus was placed on the DL (undisclosed injury). Lambertus walked the only two batters he faced last time out.


To make room for newly acquired Josh Butler at Brevard County, RHP Travis Wendte was placed on the 7-day DL. This is Wendte's second stint this spring (undisclosed injury).

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Huntsville LHP Rusty Tucker was released by the Brewers Friday in a bit of a surprise. Tucker, 27, a former member of the 40-man rosters of the Padres and White Sox, was signed by the Brewers out of indy ball last summer. He had pitched effectively in six short relief stints for the Stars this spring, and LH bats were 1-for-10 against him with two walks and four K's.


Taking his place is RHP Juan Sandoval, taken in the minor league pahase of the Rule 5 draft last winter. He was in extended spring after visa issues delayed his arrival.


Here's what we posted last December:


RHP Juan Sandoval has an amazing story -- his name seemed hauntingly familiar:


Profiles in Courage and Grit.... RHP Juan Sandoval

Feb 28, 2007


A little over a year ago, then 25 year old Mariners' pitching prospect Juan Sandoval was having dinner with his girlfriend in his native Dominica, overhearing an argument between a security guard and a drunken customer.


The next thing he knew, he heard the sound of a shotgun being pumped nearby, then the pain of richocheting buckshot carving into his face and right eye.


Doctors in the local hospital were unable to do anything for him, so he was transferred to a facility in the capital city of Santo Domingo, where he underwent several surgeries over the next six months. The eye was "saved" but his vision in that side was permanently lost.


Prior to this year, Sandoval last pitched for the AA San Antonio Missions, who are no longer part of the Mariners' organization, with a record of 9-11 and a 4.03 ERA.


He is now a non-roster invitee to the major league spring training camp in Peoria AZ, where he has already thrown in an intersquad game on Tuesday. He gave up a 500+ foot home run to outfield prospect Mike Wilson, but otherwise pitched well for his first attempt in nearly two years.


He has put in a lot of hard work since his accident and surgeries, both in the Dominican and in Seattle. He knows that he is not likely to make the 40 man out of spring training, but is hoping to be assigned to AAA Tacoma for the minor league season.


From where I sit, it takes a lot of guts to be a one eyed pitcher, and the M's are to be congratulated for standing behind him and letting him come back to try and get back into the game.




Shotgun blast ruins eye, but M's prospect returns

By Geoff Baker

Seattle Times staff reporter


February 23, 2007


PEORIA, Ariz. -- Counting the bounces of ground balls hit his way is something Juan Sandoval would have scoffed at a year ago.

"One, two, three ... glove!"

That stuff was for little kids . Certainly not for him, a professional pitcher and rising prospect hoping for a promotion to Class AAA by the Mariners.

But that all changed Feb. 4, 2006, when Sandoval was dining at a restaurant in his Dominican Republic hometown of Bonao. There was a nearby argument between the restaurant's bouncer and a drunken man. The man left, but returned moments later with a shotgun. Sandoval heard the gun's pump-action, turned to see what was happening and took a blast to the upper torso and face.

Three of the shotgun pellets lodged in his right eye, leaving it permanently blind.

Nearly a full year, a pair of surgeries, two visits to a retinal specialist in Seattle and plenty of guts later, the 26-year-old is on a field here with the Mariners as a non-roster invitee to spring training. He's learned to pitch and field his position with only one eye, using tips like "one, two, three ... glove!" to gauge the speed and closeness of grounders and compensate for his lost depth perception.

Sandoval has improved his fielding to the point where he no longer has to count the bounces, only his blessings.

"When I got shot, I didn't know if I was going to keep playing baseball, keep my eye, or lose my vision," says Sandoval, whose carefree smile conceals just how much he's gone through. "I was just lucky to be alive. That was the only thing I cared about."

"One, two, three ... glove!"

The words are a reminder to Sandoval of where he's been and how far he's come.

"I don't like to be around a lot of people now," he says. "Especially when I'm back home and I go out somewhere. If I go to a restaurant to eat, I like only a few people to be there. I don't want to go where it's crowded, where something can happen."

He recalls the fear that gripped him as the pellets struck his face, causing him to leap from the table where he'd been sitting with his girlfriend, Elisa, and her aunt and uncle.

They too, were slightly hit, but suffered minor injuries. Sandoval could feel blood gushing down his face and remembers grabbing a restaurant patron in a panic and screaming: "Is my eye still there? Is my eye still there?"

Sandoval was rushed to a local hospital. Three days later, he had surgery to take the pellets out of the eye -- arranged by the Mariners -- in a better-equipped facility in the capital of Santo Domingo.

"They also cleaned it, got the blood out of there and did all they could to make it look normal," he says. "The doctors told me that if I'd waited another day, I would have lost the eyeball."

Only a slight reddish tinge remains, a hint at the trauma his eye sustained.

But saving it permanently, after the first surgery, meant spending three weeks in a darkened area of his parents' home to avoid the sun's glare. It meant having his meals spoon-fed to him in order to keep his head upright so that the eye wouldn't shut tight.

It took three months for his eye to strengthen, completely open and be free of swelling.

Sandoval underwent more surgery on July 17 to have a dose of silicone implanted in the eye to prevent the eyelid from forcing itself closed. Though it now looks almost completely normal again, his tear duct is dried up and the eye is dead from a vision standpoint.

Baseball had been an afterthought.

"It was a long time before I could even try to play again," Sandoval said. "But I love baseball. I wanted to try to play again."

In October, he began playing catch from a distance of only five feet at a stadium in his hometown.

"It was really strange," he said. "I couldn't tell how deep the background was. I had to keep my glove right up near my face. "

Sandoval later headed to the nearby Mariners training complex in a compound behind the home of fabled super-scout Epy Guerrero. He took ground balls with other players, did some running and threw bullpen sessions -- not yet medically cleared to pitch.

"He had to re-learn everything," said Mariners head trainer Rick Griffin. "He'd completely lost his depth perception. He lost the ability to catch and judge a ball coming toward him on the mound. He had to re-learn balance."

The biggest concern, one that remains to this day, was how well he'd field comebackers to the mound.

"I had trouble judging the distance of the ball, so [pitching coach Manuel Marrero] told me to count the bounces," Sandoval said. "So, I would count, 'One, two, three ... ' and the ball would go into my glove."

Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi saw Sandoval throw a bullpen session during an early December trip to the Dominican Republic. Sandoval later told Bavasi he'd like the opportunity to attend big-league camp.

"We had already made an internal decision that we'd invite him if he got medical clearance to pitch," Bavasi said. "He was very eager and seemed ready to give it a try."

"One, two, three ... glove!"

Sandoval has tried to put those words and the past behind him. He takes pride in how he did regular, on-field workouts with other players during his recovery. He never asked for special treatment and doesn't want any.

The man who shot him claimed the gun went off accidentally. He was dirt poor, with a wife and family and had spent a week in jail when Sandoval finally talked to the police.

"I told them I didn't want to press charges, so they let him go," he said. "He was very poor and he made a mistake. Having him in jail wasn't going to change anything for me."

Sandoval used to run his fastball into the low 90s, with a smooth, loose delivery. He was 9-11 with a 4.03 earned-run average for Class AA San Antonio in 2005, but needed to resolve some control issues.

Like the rest of his recent past, though, none of that matters now. Out here, it truly is a new beginning for a pitcher keeping his remaining eye focused straight ahead.

"I'm just very happy to be here right now, in my first big-league camp," he said. "I know how lucky I am to be here and I'm going to do my best. I do everything like the other players now. I'm no different than they are."



A baseball bounces off the chest of pitcher Juan Sandoval after he misses catching it during a drill. Sandoval is blind in one eye.

AP Photo by Elaine Thompson

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The Brewers have released RHP Thomas Atlee from the Huntsville disabled list. It is our understanding there was a serious legal transgression that most likely was the impetus for the release. To be fair, we'll leave things at that.


We had posted the following upon Atlee's signing in mid-January. Atlee never threw an official pitch for the organization.




The Brewers have reached into the independent ranks again, this time acquiring former Cub farmhand RHP Tom Atlee from the New Jersey Jackals of the American Association:



Little Falls, NJ - The New Jersey Jackals have announced that pitcher Tom Atlee has been sold to the Milwaukee Brewers organization.


Atlee, acquired near the end of the 2007 season, played in three games for the New Jersey Jackals recording one save and five strikeouts in 2.1 innings of work. Prior to being traded to the Jackals, Atlee played for the Coastal Bend Pelicans of the American Association. In 36 games, Atlee recorded 17 saves and 53 strikeouts in only 37 innings of work.


Originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs organization in the 19th round of the 2002 draft, Atlee started his career with the Cubs' Single-A affiliate Boise Hawks of the Northwest League. In 19 games, he recorded 5 saves with 21 strikeouts in 27.1 innings of work. In 2006, Atlee reached his highest level playing for the Cubs' Triple-A affiliate Iowa Cubs of the Pacific Coast League. Atlee played 10 games for the Iowa Cubs with seven strikeouts in 13.1 innings of work.


"We are very excited for Tom." Manager Joe Calfapietra commented. "He is another great example of what the Can-Am League is all about."


With the purchase of Atlee, the Jackals have now had 13 players sign with a major league organization since the beginning of the 2006 season. Guillermo Reyes will be reporting in February to spring training with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Brad Voyles (Florida), Jaime Cerda (Seattle), and John Lindsey (Los Angeles) are all playing at the Triple-A level. Alex Fernandez (Pittsburgh) and Raul Valdes (New York Mets) are playing at the Double-A level. Rusty Tucker (Milwaukee), Hunter Davis (Tampa Bay) and Jason Wylie (Philadelphia) are playing at the High Single-A level. Michael Vicaro (Arizona) is playing at the Rookie league level. Randy Rapp (Oakland) and Isaac Pavlik (Chicago Cubs) have returned to the Independent Leagues after playing part of the 2006 season in High Single-A and Double-A levels respectively.


"We are very proud as an organization to help players get their first or second chance with a major league organization. The success of players that have moved on shows the value of independent baseball as a whole."


The Jackals wish Tom Atlee the best of luck for the 2008 season.

Career statistics in affiliated ball for the 5'10" 28-year-old


More often than not, it appears, Atlee goes by "Thomas". His page from his youth instructional camp, which he owns. Click on the photos at the link for close-ups.


Atlee has plenty of Southern League experience, and we've seen it documented that the Brewer regime wants top closer candidates at each level, even if it means a closer is pitching in a league that might technically be "below" him. You'd think we might see Atlee in Huntsville to begin 2008 (perhaps Nashville, we'll see).

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