Two-sport star Conley to be honored at Miller Park
Two-sport star Conley to be honored at Miller Park
MILWAUKEE -- Former Major League pitcher and NBA forward Gene Conley's name will grace the Milwaukee Braves Honor Roll when the Brewers finish their homestand with two games against the Rangers this week.
Conley will be inducted in a ceremony at Miller Park on Monday afternoon, joining a list of 11 other former Braves stars that includes Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews and Warren Spahn. The display is located on the field-level concourse along the third base line.
The 82-year-old Conley pitched parts of 11 Major League seasons including 1954-63 with the Braves. He finished third in the 1954 National League Rookie of the Year race after going 14-9 with a 2.96 ERA in 27 starts and one relief appearance for the Braves and was an NL All-Star in '54, '55 and '58. He pitched to a 3.16 ERA in 35 appearances, 18 starts for the '57 World Champion Braves.
Conley is the only player to win championships in two of the four major American sports. A 6-foot-8 forward, he also played in the NBA with the Celtics (1952-53, 1958-61) and Knicks (1962-64) and was a member of three of Boston's championship teams (1959, '60 and '61).
The Braves Honor Roll is maintained in conjunction with the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association, an organization that works to keep the memory alive of Milwaukee's first Major League franchise. One of its stars, shortstop Johnny Logan, will be inducted to the Walk of Fame outside Miller Park on June 6.
Roenicke: No plans to send Axford to Minors
MILWAUKEE -- The fans made their voices heard again Sunday, but Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was adamant: There has been no talk of sending reliever John Axford to the Minors to iron things out.
After an eight-game stretch in which it appeared he had moved past his early-season struggles, Axford heard boos as he left the mound Sunday for the second straight outing. He'd just surrendered a run on two hits and two walks while recording one out in a 10-1 loss to the Cardinals.
The appearance boosted his ERA to 9.95 and his walks plus hits per inning pitched to 2.76 over 12 2/3 innings.
"Today was the first time that I felt off since that outing in Chicago," Axford said, referring to an April 9 loss to the Cubs. "Every time after that, I felt good. Mechanically, the ball felt good coming out. Today was one of those days where I just didn't physically feel like myself."
Axford does have Minor League options remaining, but Roenicke indicated that was not a consideration at the moment.
"No, it's not [under discussion]," Roenicke said. "We feel he can get it back together. We saw him do it last year, and still feel that he can do it. … It's the same thing that he was in [last season], whether it's confidence, whether it's mechanical. If it's mechanical, Rick [Kranitz, the pitching coach] and Lee [Tunnell, the bullpen coach] will figure it out.
"I don't think it is mechanical, as far as not putting him in a spot where he can make good pitches. But I don't know that it's all mental, either. I think Ax, he goes through things like this. Even when he was really good two years ago, he still gets in full counts a lot. He's not a guy that just commands the ball great and is a strike-thrower all the time. But working with the delivery and upstairs with the confidence, he's got to get both of them back."
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy also weighed in.
"He just has to get comfortable again," Lucroy said. "He's way too good to be doing this for long. He's throwing 96, 97 mph, and if he can just get his off-speed over early for strikes, there's not a lot of people who are going to have a chance. In 2011 when he was really, really good, that's what we did -- we got ahead early and put people away."
Axford's popularity soared at the time, because he was the key cog of a shutdown bullpen that helped the Brewers reach the 2011 National League Championship Series. But he struggled in the middle of 2012 and briefly lost the closer's job, then lost the job again after three outings this year.
He was asked whether the boos are contributing to his trouble.
"No, because when I'm on the mound I'm locked into what I'm intending to do on the next pitch," Axford said. "I never hear anything when I'm out there."
What about when he is coming off the mound?
"Coming off, you hear more things," Axford said. "If I could erase those first four outings where things weren't there mechanically, when the velocity wasn't there -- if I could get rid of those games, then maybe things are a little bit different. Maybe I feel different. Maybe the crowd feels different, too. But it's tough to get rid of those outings, tough to forget about them.
"So, I understand where [fans] are at. It is what it is. It's difficult."
Segura out-slugging Brewers' expectations
MILWAUKEE -- Second-year Brewers shortstop Jean Segura entered Sunday's series finale batting .336 with four home runs and 13 RBIs. He was tied for the National League lead with three triples, tied for third with eight stolen bases and tied for fourth in average.
Yes, he is exceeding the Brewers' expectations, especially in the power department.
"Everything he's doing is really good," manager Ron Roenicke said. "I didn't think he'd be hitting whatever he is now. Yesterday, [hitting] into three double plays was a complete shock. Even after the first two, the last thing I thought on the last one was that he would hit into a double play. Not going to happen to him again.
"He is really playing well. Driving the ball, stealing bases. The defense -- we knew he was going to be good defensively, but I still thought he would make some mistakes, just being young. He's not making too many mistakes."
Through his first 107 at-bats this season, two things appear clear: Segura likes hitting at Miller Park, and he likes hitting to the opposite field.
Each of his first four home runs and seven of his first 10 extra-base hits came at home, and all four of the homers were to straightaway center field (two) or right field (two). His first-inning, two-run homer off Adam Wainwright on Saturday landed in the visitors' bullpen in right field.
"That's been his strength," Roenicke said. "Before we got him, we knew he hit the ball hard the other way, which tells me when you do that, that you're going to hit for a better average and drive in runs. He's fun to watch."
Meadows hopes for resurgence as sidearmer
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers hope they have another Brian Shouse on their hands in Minor League left-hander Dan Meadows.
After mastering the basics of a new sidearm delivery, Meadows graduated last week to Class A Brevard County, where he made his third appearance on Saturday and surrendered his first hit to a lefty batter after retiring the first four. He will try to develop into another Shouse, the left-handed specialist who pitched to a 3.18 ERA in three Brewers seasons from 2006-08.
Meadows was a 49th round Draft pick in 2008 who was 28-23 with a 3.60 ERA in his first five Minor League seasons.
"He was a left-hander that didn't get left-handed hitters out, so we had a nice meeting with him at the end of spring and said, 'Look, we can't use you right now, and quite frankly, right now you're released unless you want to try this,'" Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said. "He said, 'I'll give it a try.'"
A right-hander, Tim Dillard, similarly overhauled his delivery in 2010 to prolong his career, and he is still pitching. After beginning the year with Lancaster in the independent Atlantic League, Dillard re-signed with the Brewers on Friday and reported to Triple-A Nashville.
Meadows could advance in the Brewers' system if he has success.
"I think it's important that we know at the end of the year what we have," Ash said.
• Roenicke is considering moving center fielder Carlos Gomez up in the batting order for the coming two-game series against the Rangers. Gomez has mostly been hitting seventh.
"We'll see how we go, whether it's fifth, whether it's sixth, I'm not sure where he really, ideally fits in because he's hitting the ball so well," Roenicke said. "There's a good case for moving him up to one or two, also.
"I think part of [Gomez's success] is where he is, but there may come a time when I want to move him up somewhere at the beginning. To have that kind of speed and be able to disrupt people if you get on base like he's getting on base now, maybe that's where he belongs."
• Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig will throw a ceremonial first pitch to Hall of Famer Robin Yount when the Lakeshore Chinooks open their second season on May 30. Yount is a minority owner of the Chinooks, who play on the campus of Concordia University in Mequon, Wis., as part of the 16-team Northwoods League, a collegiate wood-bat summer league.
• Space remains in the Brewers' annual 5K Famous Racing Sausages Run/Walk, which will wind around Miller Park beginning at 8 a.m. CT on July 20. The event typically sells out, but registration forms are still available at Brewers.com/5Krunwalk.