Gamel makes surprise start at third base

Gamel makes surprise start at third base

Gamel makes surprise start at third base
MINNEAPOLIS -- The best part about being in charge is you reserve the right to change your mind. That's what Brewers brass did Sunday in their handling of Mat Gamel, who made an unexpected start at third base.

The club shifted Gamel to first base this season at Triple-A Nashville, partly as insurance against Prince Fielder's departure via free agency next winter, and had said that there were no plans to move Gamel back across the diamond to share time with struggling third baseman Casey McGehee. Plans changed on Sunday, when McGehee was out of the lineup for a second consecutive day of mental rest.

It's a sign that Gamel might not be headed back to Nashville this week, after all.

"How can we keep him here and get him at bats?" Roenicke said. "With Prince [entrenched at first base], you're in a tough spot. We want another guy in there that can swing the bat, and we felt like in the Minor Leagues [Gamel] was swinging well enough that we want to see what he can do."

Roenicke consulted with his own coaches about trying Gamel at third base, and with Nashville manager Don Money, a former Brewers All-Star infielder. Roenicke spoke with Money as recently as Saturday.

He also spoke with McGehee before posting a lineup Sunday with Gamel at third. McGehee entered the weekend in a 2-for-22 slump and was batting .221.

"I've told Casey all year long, [he] is a big part of this team," Roenicke said. "We need Casey to do what he did the last couple of years for us to get where we want to go."

Gamel's plus has always been his bat and not his glove. He was drafted as a third baseman, but last season began playing in the corner outfield spots and at first base to increase his versatility. This year, the Brewers decided to have him focus on first base, and until he took the field in the bottom of the first inning on Sunday, Gamel had not played a single out away from first.

He took grounders briefly at third base before the game with Roenicke and first-base coach Garth Iorg.

Roenicke said McGehee might be back in the lineup on Monday, when the Brewers return home to host the D-backs. McGehee went 3-for-3 with a homer against Arizona starter Daniel Hudson in a game last season.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.