Notes: Fielder out with sprained ankle
Brewers first baseman injured in final inning Saturday
MILWAUKEE -- It takes some serious pain to keep Brewers slugger Prince Fielder on the bench, but that's where he was Sunday for his team's season finale.Fielder suffered a high right ankle sprain during the 11th inning of Saturday's win over the Padres, when pinch-hitter Jason Lane face-planted into first base and clipped Fielder's leg. Fielder received treatment all morning, but was declared a no-go. "He tried. He really wanted to play," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "He thought for a second that maybe he could, but then he went to take some swings and couldn't do it." Head team physician William Raasch was called in to make sure the injury was nothing more serious than a high sprain. X-rays were negative. "I tried to get it loose, but I hit off a tee and I couldn't turn on it," Fielder said. "You know me. I don't like missing games, so it was real tough. Especially being the last game. I wanted to play the last game with my buddies out there." Fielder hit a National League-best 50 home runs and finished among the league's top four in slugging percentage, RBIs, extra-base hits and total bases. He played in 158 of the Brewers' 162 games, including 154 games in the starting lineup. Yost wrote up two lineups Sunday, one with Fielder in his usual cleanup spot. Instead, Joe Dillon played first base, and right fielder Gabe Gross hit fourth. Dillon drove in a run during a go-ahead, four-run fifth inning, and Gross ripped a three-run triple in the sixth to help the Brewers to an 11-6 win over the Padres. "I was trying to find some way to get [Fielder] in there for a pitch," Yost said after. "Maybe pinch-run him so he could go out, come back and get a little bit of something from our fans, too. There was just no way." Yost joked that Fielder was day-to-day. "He'll be ready for his next game," Yost said. "He'll be ready for April." They'll be back: Yost believes that the team that took the field Sunday will be back largely intact next season. "Every team always has turnover, but the core of our team, you're looking at it," he said. "The core of our team are those kids." Still, the Brewers face some interesting offseason questions. Closer Francisco Cordero headlines a list of free agents that also includes relievers Scott Linebrink and Ray King, backup catcher Damian Miller and probably outfielder Geoff Jenkins, assuming the team declines Jenkins' $9 million club option. Infielders Tony Graffanino and Corey Koskie are also free agents, with injuries likely to sideline them for the start of 2008. The Brewers have told Cordero they will try to bring him back. Cordero, who surrendered a pair of ninth-inning home runs Sunday and saw his ERA push briefly to 3.00 before settling at 2.98 when he recorded the final out, indicated he would listen to offers. "It's not up to me," Cordero said. "They are going to call my agent, and they are going to meet. They said they are going to do everything they can to sign me back, and why not? They gave me a second chance over here since I was traded last year from Texas. I love my job over here." The list of arbitration-eligible Brewers is long and includes pitchers Dave Bush, Chris Capuano, Brian Shouse, Chris Spurling, Claudio Vargas and Matt Wise, catcher Johnny Estrada, shortstop J.J. Hardy and outfielders Laynce Nix and Kevin Mench. If Jenkins departs, left field could be the team's biggest offseason hole to fill. The team originally considered moving Bill Hall to left, not center field, last winter, and he could conceivably move there next year if the Brewers are able to acquire a center fielder/leadoff hitter. But asked Sunday who he expects to be his center fielder, Yost replied, "Billy." "I look for Billy to bounce back," Yost said. "There's a lot of different scenarios floating around out there, and those will all be addressed when the season is over."
Into the sunset: Milwaukee's own Bruce Froemming umpired his final game on Sunday after 50 years in blue, including a record 37 consecutive years as a Major League ump. He called nearly 5,200 games."There's a little emotion," said Froemming, who turned 68 on Friday. "I grew up in this city and it's my last shot on the field. When County Stadium opened in 1953, I was there as a fan to cheer on the Braves, and then I got to umpire in County Stadium before they moved into this beautiful ballpark. I have a lot of good memories in Milwaukee." Froemming is not exactly retiring. He accepted a job offer from Major League Baseball and will work with young umpires to "try to make a better product out of one that's already great." Power surge: The Brewers led the Majors in home runs for the fourth time in club history and the first time since 2001. They had already hit a franchise record 230 homers entering the final game of the season. In fact, the Brewers' homer-happiness led some to wonder whether they were at times too reliant on the long ball. Through Saturday the team was hitting .261 with runners in scoring position, 25th of the 30 Major League teams. "If you ask anybody in the league if they [wanted] our power, they would take it," Yost said. "With young kids, they are going to continually get better as offensive players. They've got the power. Now they need the experience."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.