Brewers Turn To Gamel To Replace Fielder At First

MILWAUKEE—No matter how well he performed in the minors, corner infielder Mat Gamel never had a chance to play regularly with the Brewers during the last three years, not with Prince Fielder entrenched at first base and Casey McGehee at third.

Gamel ought to receive a fair shake in 2012, however, because neither Fielder (free agent) nor McGehee (traded to the Pirates) returns to Milwaukee.

The Brewers signed former Cubs all-star Aramis Ramirez to play third base, closing one door for the 26-year-old Gamel. That's OK because he focused on playing first base with Triple-A Nashville last season after years of shaky glovework at the hot corner.

The lefty-hitting Gamel certainly had nothing left to prove offensively in the minors. In 128 games with the Sounds he batted .310/.372/.540 with 28 home runs, 29 doubles and 96 RBIs.

"I think he has proven he can hit in Triple-A," general manager Doug Melvin said. "(Former Nashville manager) Don Money said he took to first base very well. I think everybody expects Gamel to hold his own."

Many Brewers fans are nervous about committing to Gamel at first base because he has not prospered in four previous callups. In 85 games covering 194 plate appearances he batted .222/.309/.374 with five homers.

But Gamel never has been given a chance to play regularly in the majors. The Brewers summoned him during the past two seasons mostly to provide a DH in interleague play. Gamel went 3-for-26 (.115) with a double and two RBIs in 10 games last year.

One way or another, the Brewers have to make a decision on Gamel this spring because he is out of minor league options.

"We'd rather give him a chance to see what he can do for us than have him do it for somebody else first," Melvin said.


• The Brewers invited righthander Taylor Jungmann and lefty Jed Bradley to big league spring training. They went 12th and 15th, respectively, in last year's draft.

• They also invited catcher Anderson de la Rosa to big league camp for the second straight year. He batted .239/.278/.380 in 61 games for Double-A Huntsville last year.