Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan took to the ice to play a little hockey on Wednesday, practicing with the San Jose Sharks for about 30 minutes.
Morgan played junior hockey for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey before giving up the sport to focus on baseball about a decade ago. He handled himself well, and even scored a goal on Sharks backup Thomas Greiss during a shootout contest.
Sharks star Joe Thornton characterized Morgan’s performance as “Not bad. It was better than I thought.”
You can read more details in Mike Halford’s post over at PHT, and the always engaging Morgan talks about the experience in an entertaining interview with CSNBayArea below.
Stay cool, Tony Plush.
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Takashi Saito and the Brewers have finalized a one-year contract, with Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the deal could pay the 41-year-old reliever up to $3.2 million based on incentives.
Saito can’t handle a full workload at this point in his career, rarely pitching on back-to-back days for the Braves this year, but he remains an elite reliever with a 2.83 ERA, .203 opponents’ batting average, and 69/17 K/BB ratio in 54 innings.
He figures to serve as John Axford’s primary setup man, although Saito could take over closing duties if Axford struggles after more or less coming out of nowhere to save 24 games with a 2.48 ERA as a 27-year-old rookie. Saito saved 81 games in three seasons with the Dodgers. And that Milwaukee pitching staff keeps looking better and better.
Carl Pavano and his agent smartly let Cliff Lee sign before making their move, setting him up as the top free agent starter on the market. However, that took place two weeks ago and Pavano still hasn’t made a decision despite interest from multiple teams.
Minnesota and Washington (and previously Milwaukee) have been linked to Pavano, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe adds Texas and Seattle to the list. Presumably any team seriously interested in Pavano has offered him a two-year deal, but according to Cafardo he’s holding out for a three-year contract.
Pavano hasn’t missed a start in two seasons and went 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA and fantastic 117/37 K/BB ratio in 221 innings for the Twins this year, but at age 35 and with his extensive injury history a three-year commitment would be an extremely risky move by a team truly desperate for rotation help. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone caves.
Trevor Hoffman told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com that he’s leaning toward wanting to continue pitching in 2011, but McCalvy writes that “the offers are sparse” for the all-time saves leader after he struggled in 2010.
With a 2-7 record and 5.89 ERA in 47 innings Hoffman’s overall numbers were ugly, but he bounced back from a brutal first two months to post a 2.67 ERA, .218 opponents’ batting average, and 20/9 K/BB ratio in 30 innings over his final 32 appearances. And he’s just one season removed from saving 37 games with a 1.83 ERA.
Hoffman told McCalvy that had some conversations with the Diamondbacks early in the offseason, but that window closed when they signed J.J. Putz:
Arizona got hot there for a little bit, but that closed when J.J. signed. It seemed like a pretty good opportunity. I haven’t come to grips yet whether, if something comes along, I want to pitch. That needs to be cleared up first. I’m kind of enjoying being normal and having an offseason. Usually, after only a few weeks you’re beginning the process again of getting your body in tune. I haven’t really engaged in the continual workouts like I’ve done in previous years, and it’s been a little refreshing. I’m hoping it will bring clarity into the decision.
At this point it seems unlikely that any team will give Hoffman an opportunity to enter 2011 as their closer, so the question is whether he wants to be a middle reliever and perhaps whether he wants to battle for a middle relief job on a minor-league contract. He showed enough in the second half to suggest he can still get big-league hitters out at age 43, but coming back would mean entering a season without ninth-inning duties for the first time since 1993.
Adam McCalvy of MLB.com caught up with legendary Brewers announcer Bob Uecker, who’s spending the offseason in Arizona resting up after undergoing two heart surgeries this year and plans to return to the broadcast booth for his 41st season in 2011.
At age 75 he “plans to work a full schedule” of games and Uecker told McCalvy that he’s looking forward to spring training more than ever after a 2010 filled with health problems:
It makes you appreciate things around you that you don’t pay a lot of attention to normally. It makes you appreciate your job. It makes you appreciate all of the guys who worked on me and all of the great baseball fans who say they want you back. There’s no way I’m going to quit. I wouldn’t know what the heck to do. I feel good. When I start slobbering, then it will be a different story. They won’t have to tell me when to quit. I’ll know.
McCalvy described Uecker as “choking up” when discussing the outpouring of fan support he received while in the hospital. In four decades calling Brewers games it was just the second time he’s missed a large number of games.