Early Injuries Test Brewers' Depth At Shortstop





MILWAUKEE—Asked how thin the Brewers were at shortstop in the minors, assistant general manager Gord Ash said, "Extraordinarily."

Barely a week into the minor league season, the Brewers found themselves in something of a crisis at the upper levels of their farm system.

In his fifth game of the season for Triple-A Nashville, shortstop Edwin Maysonet strained his right hamstring and went on the disabled list. The player who would have replaced him at short, 2007 19th-rounder Zelous Wheeler—who also plays third base—already had gone on the DL with a sprained right knee after only two games.

Making that problem more acute was the fact that shortstop Luis Cruz, Nashville team MVP in 2010, exercised his right to free agency after being outrighted from the 40-man roster at the end of spring training.

Cruz opted to sign a minor league deal with the Rangers even though Texas has young shortstop Elvis Andrus entrenched as their starter.

The Brewers tried to impress upon Cruz that he would be a logical candidate to be summoned should anything happen to major league shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt or backup Craig Counsell, but he opted to leave nevertheless.

Betancourt came from the Royals in the Zack Greinke trade and took over for Alcides Escobar, the Brewers' supposed shortstop of the future who went to Kansas City in the same deal.

Journeyman Anderson Machado, who had played 24 games in the majors and more than 1,200 in the minors, covered shortstop for the Sounds until Juan Sanchez arrived from Double-A Huntsville to lend a hand.

Things were no better at Huntsville, where 25-year-old Matt Cline manned the position. Josh Prince, a third-round pick in 2009 who has struggled at the plate, played short at high Class A Brevard County, while Carlos George, a 46th rounder in '09, began at shortstop for low Class A Wisconsin.

The Brewers have hopes for Yadiel Rivera, a ninth-round pick out of Puerto Rico last year, but he is only 18 and was left in extended spring training awaiting another season of rookie ball.

Ash said the Brewers were on the lookout for shortstop help.

"We're diligently looking, but there's not a lot available," he said.

MICROBREWS

• The Brewers lost Nashville outfielder Caleb Gindl for two weeks with an oblique strain. He impressed the coaching staff with the way he swung the bat in spring training, but he played just two games, going 1-for-5, prior to getting hurt.

• The Brewers released 2010 12th-round pick John Bivens, an outfielder, in early April before the Virginia State product played a game.