Brewers' youngsters must be patient

Youngsters must be patient

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ken Macha knows how many of his fans would like to see him handle the final 11 games of the season.

"Everybody wants to see the young guys play," Macha said.

The young guys are shortstop Alcides Escobar and third baseman Mat Gamel, considered the Brewers' top two prospects. They'll play, Macha said, but not every day because J.J. Hardy will continue to see time at shortstop and Casey McGehee will continue to make the majority of starts at third base.

"When you're breaking in young kids, you just don't throw them to the wolves," Macha said.

General manager Doug Melvin went a step further than Macha, calling the notion that the Brewers should simply start Escobar and Gamel the rest of the way, "stupid."

Escobar made his fifth start in seven games on Tuesday against the Cubs in a series that concludes on Wednesday night. But the Brewers' reason for showcasing their other shortstop -- Hardy -- isn't difficult to deduce. Escobar appears ready for a permanent jump to the big leagues, making it likely that Hardy will be trade bait this winter. If the Brewers don't play Hardy down the stretch, it will be all but impossible to get other teams interested.

A number of teams could look at shortstop options this winter. Two of them -- the Royals and the Blue Jays -- happened to have a scout at Miller Park on Tuesday.

At third base, meanwhile, both Macha and Melvin made it clear the regular starter is McGehee. he leads all Major League rookies with 61 RBIs and ranks second among National League rookies with a .303 average and a .503 slugging percentage.

"Casey McGehee is going for [the National League] Rookie of the Year. Is that fair to Casey McGehee [to start Gamel]?" Melvin said. "He's going for Rookie of the Year, and you can't take that away from him. That's simple. ...

"And we're still trying to win games," Melvin added. "People say, 'What's the difference if you win 81 games or you win 72 games?' Well, the difference is nine games, and we're trying to create a winning environment."

The decision might be more difficult for Macha if Gamel were making more of his opportunities. Since returning to the Brewers for September, he is 1-for-8 with five strikeouts. Including his midseason stint with the Brewers, Gamel is hitting .233 in the Majors this season with four home runs and 50 strikeouts in 120 at-bats. At Triple-A Nashville, he hit .278 in 75 games with 89 strikeouts in 273 at-bats.

"I do have a level of concern about Gamel," Macha said.

According to Macha, Gamel has not been impressive in batting practice. In games, he's struggled to catch up to opponents' fastballs.

"Last time I started Gamel down there, they hit a couple of ground balls to him that he didn't get to. His at-bats weren't very good. I don't want to put somebody down there and have them not be ready to go out and play and not have success. That's the way I feel about that."

Pitching matchup
MIL: LHP Chris Narveson (1-0, 4.22 ERA)
With Manny Parra's ailing neck still an issue, Narveson will make a third straight start instead, and he certainly did nothing to dissuade his use on Friday. Narveson threw five innings and allowed just one run, the lengthiest outing of his big league career. He has allowed just five earned runs since rejoining the team from Triple-A Nashville on Aug. 21, posting a 2.11 ERA over nine appearances.

CHC: RHP Jeff Samardzija (1-2, 7.89 ERA)
Samardzija will sub for Ted Lilly, who is being given a few extra days because of tendinitis in his left shoulder. This will be Samardzija's second big league start. He made his first start Aug. 12 against Philadelphia, giving up seven runs on eight hits over 3 1/3 innings while striking out four. The right-hander, who was the Cubs' fifth-round pick in 2006, has split time this season between the big league team and Triple-A Iowa. For the season, he's 1-2 with a 7.89 ERA in 19 games with the Cubs.

The Brewers need to go 8-3 over their final 11 games to have a winning season. The Brewers are bidding to post three consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1987-89. ... Between them, Narveson and Samardzija have four Major League starts entering Wednesday. ... The Brewers are 6-10 against the Cubs this year and haven't posted a winning season against Chicago since going 9-7 in 2005.

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Up next
• Thursday: Brewers (Jeff Suppan, 7-10, 4.76) vs. Phillies (J.A. Happ, 10-4, 2.77), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Friday: Brewers (Manny Parra, 10-10, 6.42) vs. Phillies (Pedro Martinez, 5-1, 3.32), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Brewers (Braden Looper, 13-7, 5.12) vs. Phillies (TBD), 6:05 p.m. CT

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