Prince Fielder has likely played his last game as a Brewer

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If it ends — and it looks like it has ended — Prince Fielder’s tenure as a Milwaukee Brewer ended with an 0-for-4 night and a weak grounder to second base.

But that will soon be forgotten. For one thing, he had an overall productive 2011 postseason, getting on base and hitting for power. For another, he leaves behind six seasons — and part of a seventh — in Milwaukee that have been nothing short of spectacular: 230 homers, 656 RBI and a line of .282/.390/.540.  He has been a critical part of two Brewers’ playoff teams and stands as one of the more popular men to ever wear the team’s uniform.

But it’s that production and his impending free agency that makes Fielder all but certain to wear a different uniform in 2012.  Even with Albert Pujols on the market and the Yankees and Red Sox seemingly out of the bidding for a big first base bat, Fielder’s price tag is likely to approach $200 million. That’s widely accepted to be outside of the realm of the possible for team owner Mark Attanasio. The Brewers are a tremendous business success for a team in as small a market as Milwaukee, but they can’t afford that kind of a deal, especially when they’re already committed to Ryan Braun for $105 million through 2020.

So, barring an uncharacteristic hometown discount for the Scott Boras-represented Fielder, this is the end of the road for him in Wisconsin. I would assume that Brewers fans — a pretty knowledgeable lot — understand that this is business and I’d assume they’ll greet Fielder warmly if and when he returns to Miller Park wearing home grays.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.