MILWAUKEE This is Trib reporter John Grupp at the three-game series with the Brewers, as Trib beat writer Rob Biertempfel is traveling to the Dominican Republic to file an anticipated report on the new Pirates baseball academy.
Anyhow, here are some notes from the pre-game clubhouse, which included the return of a familiar face and some proud Wisconsin natives who are playing in front of friends and family in their home state for the first time.
· Center fielder Nate McLouth missed his fourth game in a row with a strained right oblique. He is unlikely to see much action in Milwaukee.
“He felt better today; We’ll see how he is tomorrow,” manager John Russell said. “(But) if he comes in tomorrow and he feels good, he’s going to go through a few tests before we can actually get him back on the field.”
· Catcher Ryan Doumit arrived in Milwaukee today, per his plan to stay around his teammates during his 8-10 week recovery from a broken bone in his right wrist.
Doumit, with his wrist heavily wrapped in an Ace bandage, played cards and attended coach’s meetings on Monday afternoon at Miller Park. The team’s clean-up hitter will be re-evaluated in 4-5 weeks, Russell said.
“He’s happy to be back,” Russell said. “He said he feels good.”
· The three-game series in Milwaukee is a homecoming for 25 percent of the Pirates’ starting position players and one coach.
Catcher Jason Jaramillo was born in Racine, Wisc. which, remarkably, happens to be the same birthplace of yours truly and starred at nearby J.I. Case High School.
Right fielder Eric Hinske, who is getting a fourth consecutive start for McLouth, was a three-sport star at Menasha High School about an hour and 15 minutes away.
Bench coach Gary Varsho played high school and college ball in Wisconsin and, like Jaramillo, still makes his off-season home here. Hinske and Jaramillo were overwhelmed with ticket requests. In 903 career games, including 11 against the Brewers, Hinske has never played a major-league game in his home state.
Jaramillo is fortunate enough to have a family member who works in the Brewers’ front office.
“I lucked out,” Jaramillo said. “I’m not sure what she does, but she got her hands on some tickets.”