Brewers acquire Juan Francisco from Braves, call up Scooter Gennett


Atlanta designated Juan Francisco for assignment last week and today the Braves traded him to the Brewers for minor leaguer Thomas Keeling. Milwaukee also called up second baseman Scooter Gennett from Triple-A.

Francisco has been exclusively a third baseman in the majors, but given how awful the Brewers’ production has been at first base he should see time there until Corey Hart returns. Part of that lack of first base production, 36-year-old Alex Gonzalez, was released to make room on the roster for Francisco. If nothing else Francisco adds some left-handed power to the mix, but he’s also a career .254 hitter with a lousy .299 on-base percentage and 164/29 K/BB ratio.

Gennett could push the struggling Rickie Weeks at second base, although he’s hardly a top prospect. At age 23 he was hitting .297 with one homer and a .719 OPS in 50 games at Triple-A and Gennett had similar numbers with a .293 batting average, five homers, and a .714 OPS in 133 games at Double-A last season.

Keeling is a non-prospect and the 25-year-old former 18th-round pick has a 6.26 ERA as a pro.

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.