Gamel returns to Brewers as first baseman

Gamel returns to Brewers as first baseman

Gamel returns to Brewers as first baseman
NEW YORK -- He might not get to prove it during the Brewers' weeklong run in American League ballparks, but Mat Gamel said his transition to first base has been a success.

"Honestly, it's a lot less stressful," Gamel said Tuesday after joining the Brewers for the first time this season. "I'm sure it's less stressful for everybody."

The Brewers recalled Gamel from Triple-A Nashville on Monday afternoon because they wanted the extra bat for road series against the Yankees and Twins, and Gamel was the team's designated hitter at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. Whether Gamel sees any action in the field this week, manager Ron Roenicke said, depends on whether Prince Fielder decides he wants to do any designated hitting himself.

"I enjoy first base," Gamel said. "I'm a lot more comfortable over there than I ever was at third."

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Gamel began his professional career as a third baseman, but has always been a prospect because of his bat. He's a career .304 hitter over parts of seven seasons in the Minor Leagues while playing third base, the outfield corners and now first base, and has been especially consistent this season after the Brewers moved him to first.

Fielder is a free agent after the season, and Gamel is the Brewers' insurance policy at that position. General manager Doug Melvin said Tuesday that the club has no plans to move Gamel back to third base, where the big league incumbent, Casey McGehee, is struggling to get on track this season.

"I like [first base] a lot, being involved, being able to pick up teammates by picking balls out of the dirt," Gamel said.

He joined the Brewers with a hot bat. Gamel was on an eight-game hitting streak at Nashville, with home runs in each of his last three games.

Entering Tuesday, he'd already made 167 Major League plate appearances over three seasons, but has yet to break through as a big league regular. Gamel will turn 26 on July 26 and is a father of two daughters, the youngest of whom was at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night with Gamel's wife, Julianne.

Gamel said he does not waste time pondering the future.

"I'm definitely ready to be here for good," Gamel said. "It's a tough lineup to crack, especially with the positions that I play. You've got a lot of good players that are playing those positions. You just have to wait until it's your time.

"Especially with Prince, that's a guy you don't want to see leave the organization. If you're a Major League player, you'll be there with somebody. I'm not thinking about [2012], I'm thinking about this year."