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Brewers mull Minors return for Gamel

Brewers mull Minors return for Gamel

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MILWAUKEE -- Casey McGehee has forced himself into the Brewers' everyday lineup, in turn forcing club officials to reconsider whether third-base prospect Mat Gamel might be better served by a return to Triple-A Nashville.

"We'll talk about that internally," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "That's not something we would discuss publicly, but you're always having discussions. It's probably something you look at from a series-by-series standpoint."

Gamel, promoted from Nashville on May 14 ahead of Interleague Play, was on the bench for the fifth time in six games on Tuesday, mostly because the Brewers were facing left-handed Mets ace Johan Santana in the second of a three-game series. But Gamel, who bats left-handed, has seen his playing time decrease of late against righties because of the emergence of McGehee, who entered play Tuesday with a .370 average, five home runs and 20 RBIs over his past 20 games.

McGehee, not Gamel, started at third base on Monday against Mets right-hander Fernando Nieve. He dropped a popup in the top of the sixth inning that contributed to two unearned runs, but then he belted a grand slam in the bottom of the inning.

"You have to put the lineup out there you think is going to win, and Casey deserves his time," manager Ken Macha said. "But you also have to have a view of what the organization is going to look like long-term. [Gamel] has gotten a taste here. We'll see what happens here from now until the All-Star break."

Macha hinted that the Brewers could make a decision after their four-game series in Chicago ends on Sunday. If they decide to keep Gamel in the Major Leagues, they could explore sending him to the Arizona Fall League or to a winter league to get at-bats and innings at third base.

With the Interleague portion of the schedule in the books, McGehee playing his way into the lineup and Craig Counsell holding strong, there is some thinking that Gamel's development would better served playing every day in the Minors instead of riding the bench in Milwaukee.

It's a fair question, Melvin said. But it was not one he was willing to discuss with a reporter.

"You don't want players to worry about what you're thinking ahead of time," Melvin said. "You don't want them putting pressure on themselves. Our intention was to bring Mat up for a short time, and he's earned the right to stay. If you take away his pinch-hit at-bats, he's been a productive hitter for us."

With a strikeout in the eighth inning Monday night, Gamel fell to 1-for-11 as a pinch-hitter. But he was hitting a more respectable .256 as a starter with a .348 on-base percentage fueled by 10 walks. Seven of his 20 hits were for extra-bases.

McGehee, meanwhile, entered his start on Tuesday batting .336 with a .400 on-base percentage.

"There's no doubt that Casey McGehee has taken advantage of his window of opportunity," Melvin said.

Gamel was hitting .336 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs in 33 games at Nashville before his promotion. He spent most of 2008 at Double-A Huntsville and shared Milwaukee's Minor League Player of the Year Award with shortstop Alcides Escobar. Gamel hit .325 last year with 20 homers and 99 RBIs.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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