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CATALANOTTO COULD GIVE BENCH BOOST


CATALANOTTO COULD GIVE BENCH BOOST
The Milwaukee Brewers have so many things going right for them at the moment.

Offensive production from their bench isn't one of them.

Take away veteran infielder Craig Counsell's hot start at the plate, and the Brewers have gotten very little from their reserves. Entering Tuesday night's game against the Florida Marlins at Miller Park, Milwaukee ranked second-to-last in the National League with seven pinch hits.

Aside from Counsell's 18-for-54 batting line (.333 average) after Tuesday, Brewers backups are just 11-for-78 (.141). So, in a move that may help shore up that problem area, the team agreed to minor league contract with veteran outfielder Frank Catalanotto Tuesday.

Catalanotto, a career .292 hitter who was released by Texas at the end of spring training, is scheduled to head to the club's complex in Phoenix to work out for five to seven days before being assigned to a minor league affiliate.

"We signed him in order to see if we have an option of strengthening our bench," Brewers manager Ken Macha said.

Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin is very familiar with Catalanotto, having traded for him while holding the same position with the Rangers.

"He still hadn't hooked on with anybody," said Melvin, who called Catalanotto an aggressive, line-drive hitter who's also a good baserunner. "I just asked him if he was interested in still playing and he said he was.

"I said, 'You still have to perform,' I said, 'There's no promises here. ... There's no (designated hitter), there's not a lot of playing time in the outfield.' I said, 'We've got a regular lineup.' So he knows that."

Catalanotto, a left-handed hitter, has played first base, second base, third base and both corner outfield spots during a 12-year major league career that started in Detroit and includes two stops in Texas and four years in Toronto. Melvin said he views Catalanotto as strictly an outfielder at this point.

The obvious victim of the move, then, would seem to be left-handed outfielder/first baseman Brad Nelson, who had yet to get a hit in 20 at-bats before Tuesday.

"That's not necessarily who (Catalanotto is) going to replace or anything if he makes it," Melvin said. "Maybe you guys think it is."

Nelson is not alone in his struggles. Outfielder Chris Duffy was hitting .107 in 28 at-bats before Tuesday, while infielder Casey McGehee was 3-for-15 (.200).

"We've got a couple guys on the bench that haven't been through this before and sometimes you try to do too much," Macha said. "And this is a game of production and turn around, and if they're not doing the job, somebody else will be here. I don't want to put pressure like that on anybody, but that's just the way Baseball is, professional sports."

Stealing a glance

Milwaukee has just 10 stolen bases on the season - second-to-last in the majors entering Tuesday - and has been caught stealing nine time.

Macha said he gave a more widespread green light for the first 18 games or so of the season, but the horrible start persuaded him to take it off.

"In order for a stolen base to be a factor, you have to have a 75 percent success factor," Macha said. "Right now we're right at 50-50. So we're not going to give up outs. The other thing is, I really feel that the stolen base doesn't have the impact on the game that people think."

Macha, who has given the green light to second baseman Rickie Weeks and left fielder Ryan Braun, is more concerned about the timing of steals compared to the volume.

"If you can steal a base when you need it," he said, "that's when the impact is."

Rivera update

Backup catcher Mike Rivera, on the disabled list since April 29 with a sprained ankle, went 0-for-4 while catching the first six innings at Class AAA Nashville on Monday. Macha said Rivera was due to catch all nine innings Tuesday night as well as today.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 14, 2009

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