MILWAUKEE -- The Brett Lawrie-for-Shaun Marcum trade, back in the spotlight this week as Lawrie visits Milwaukee with the Blue Jays, began over Thanksgiving dinner.Zack Minasian, now the Brewers' pro scouting director, asked his older brother, Perry, the Blue Jays' pro scouting director, if he thought Toronto might be interested. The Brewers needed a quality starter and the Blue Jays were arming themselves for the future, so it looked like a fit. But when the talks actually climbed up the organizational ladders to a formal offer in December, the Blue Jays turned it down. They wanted a second player in the deal. So the Brewers shopped Lawrie to another team, probably the Royals, with whom Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin eventually swung a blockbuster trade for Zack Greinke. When Toronto got wind, they accepted the one-for-one offer, and the Lawrie deal was done. "Most trades are fun," Zack Minasian said. "That one was nerve-wracking." Nerve-wracking because the Brewers knew what kind of promise they were giving up in Lawrie, a five-tool talent who is still just 22 and already in his second Major League season. He made it to Miller Park on Monday and only cursorily talked about his time in the Brewers' system. In Spring Training, Lawrie spoke of feeling stifled by Brewers officials, who countered by pointing out they accepted Lawrie's desire to twice switch positions, from catcher to second base to third base. Asked whether any part of him remained a Brewer, Lawrie responded quickly, "No." "He wants to be known as a guy who plays his butt off, and he doesn't need everybody to like him," said Brewers infielder Taylor Green, a Double-A Huntsville teammate in 2010. "That doesn't come into the equation for him. He just wants to win games, and he plays the game unbelievably hard." Minasian was not concerned with the off-the-field drama. It was his job to evaluate the Brewers' options from a baseball perspective, and a Lawrie-for-Marcum swap made sense. Three different Brewers scouts had seen Marcum pitch that September including then-head pro scout Dick Groch. Lawrie went to Triple-A to prove he could handle third base and Marcum went to Milwaukee, where he was the best early-season starter on a club that would win 96 games and the National League Central crown. If given the opportunity, does Minasian believe the Brewers would make the same trade again? "If it meant giving up your best prospect to win a division, I think every GM in baseball would like to have the opportunity to do that," he said. "I think that's how Doug is -- he understands you have to give up something to get something."
Marcum to miss start with elbow tightness
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers scratched Shaun Marcum from a scheduled start against his former team on Tuesday because of tightness in his right elbow, a troubling development considering how well the right-hander has pitched of late, and because he is less than four years removed from Tommy John reconstructive surgery.
As of Monday afternoon, neither the Brewers nor the Blue Jays had a starting pitcher set for Tuesday. The Blue Jays have lost three starting pitchers to injuries in the past week.
Marcum is 5-3 with a 3.39 ERA in 13 starts, second to Zack Greinke among Brewers starters in ERA and tops on the staff with a .227 opponents' average. The 30-year-old is a free agent at season's end.
"It's really disappointing because, for quite a few starts, he has pitched great. So it really is disappointing," manager Ron Roenicke said."I'm hoping it's just a start," Roenicke said. "I know, two years ago, he missed a start in the middle of the season with Toronto. Hopefully, that's what we're talking about." Marcum underwent reconstructive surgery on the elbow in 2008. Since returning in 2010, he has been durable, making 31 starts with a 3.64 ERA in 2010 with Toronto, and 33 regular-season starts with a 3.54 ERA for Milwaukee in 2011 before making all of his starts this year.
He was delayed at the start of Spring Training by a shoulder issue, but made his first start right on schedule. In fact, Marcum had been so strong this season that two of the top three pitch counts of his career had come in 2012 -- a career-high 119-pitch win over the Dodgers on May 8 and a 115-pitch win over the Padres on June 8.
Dr. William Raasch was to examine Marcum's elbow before Monday's Interleague Series opener against Toronto. Marcum reported feeling tight after his last start in Kansas City, and the problem persisted during his between-starts bullpen session.Roenicke was holding out hope that Marcum will miss only one start. "Sometimes a pitcher says they feel something, and then they go and throw their bullpen and it's gone," Roenicke said. "Then other times they say, 'I don't think it's much,' and then it is something. It's really hard to tell."
Blue Jays' visit special for Canada natives
MILWAUKEE -- This particular Interleague Play series had special meaning for Brewers infielder Taylor Green. Games against the Blue Jays meant games against his boyhood team."Die-hard Blue Jays fan," he said. "I still remember when they won back-to-back titles. I was young, but I have the videos and everything like that. Every day after school, I would come home and watch them. I have autographs from Pat Hentgen and Duane Ward in my bedroom to this day." Green still follows the Blue Jays on a daily basis, partly because his entire family in British Columbia are fans. "It's pretty cool to play against them, that's for sure," Green said. He's not the only Brewer with ties to the north, which is unsurprising considering the Brewers' general manager (Doug Melvin) and assistant GM (Gord Ash) are both Canadian. Brewers closer John Axford and catcher George Kottaras are also from Canada. Ash took the field early Monday afternoon to ensure the Canadian flag had been hung properly. It had a spot high above right field.
Brewers reliever Jose Veras was unavailable for duty Monday after suffering what manager Ron Roenicke described again as an upper leg cramp in Sunday's loss to the Twins. Veras was hurt when he broke toward first base on a grounder.Roenicke said Veras had a similar issue about two weeks ago. "Same thing," Roenicke said. "He thinks it's a cramp, and then the next day it's sore." From May 8 through Sunday, Brewers starters ranked third in the National League with a 3.29 ERA.