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Crew GM knows Interleague foe all too well

Crew GM knows Interleague foe all too well

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has heard the predominant criticism of his six-year tenure in Texas, that he didn't develop any pitching. Looking at the Rangers' roster ahead of this weekend's Interleague series at Miller Park, he disputes that notion.

  • 134 wins
  • 118 wins

"It's nice to see that two of the pitchers we drafted are two of their best pitchers -- C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis," Melvin said. "They were drafted in the last years I was there, and I guess it's another sign of how long it takes pitchers to develop.

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"They say that we didn't develop pitchers, but look at those two guys. It just takes time. You have to be patient. A lot of times, general managers don't get a chance to see the pitchers [they draft]."

Melvin was GM of the Rangers from 1996-2001. Wilson was the Rangers' fifth-round Draft pick in '01, but he's not scheduled to pitch in the three-game Rangers-Brewers series that begins Friday night. Lewis was Texas' first-round pick in 1999 and is scheduled to pitch Sunday's series finale. He enters the start with a 5-3 record and a 3.52 ERA in his first 12 starts.

"You always hope the young guys can make it, but it takes a little time to get there," Melvin said.

Pitching is the Brewers' problem in 2010 for the second straight year, and Brewers starters Chris Narveson, Manny Parra and Yovani Gallardo figure to have their hands full with a Rangers offense that entered Thursday with the American League's third-best batting average, fourth-best run total and fifth-best slugging percentage.

At least one weapon is taken away from the Rangers with the games in a National League ballpark and the starting pitchers in the lineup. Heading into Thursday, designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero, who was fifth in the AL with a .336 batting average, tied for fifth with 13 homers and second with 51 RBIs, is expected to play the outfield on Friday and Sunday, but will probably get a day off on Saturday. Manager Ron Washington doesn't want to play Guerrero in the field on consecutive days.

"It is an advantage for the National League when you have to take a big bat out of your lineup like that," Washington said.

Melvin agreed.

"It does depend on the team, though," Melvin said. "If you have a true DH, then it obviously helps you [as the NL club]."

Brewers Interleague Schedule
Date Opp Result/Record vs.
5-21 @ MIN L, 3-15
5-22 @ MIN L, 7-8 (12 inn.)
5-23 @ MIN W, 4-3
6-11 TEX 182-154
6-12 TEX
6-13 TEX
6-14 @LAA 169-182-1
6-15 @LAA
6-16 @LAA
6-22 MIN 205-221
6-23 MIN
6-24 MIN
6-25 SEA 117-113
6-26 SEA
6-27 SEA

Said Milwaukee center fielder Carlos Gomez, who has played in the NL with the Mets and Brewers and in the AL with the Twins: "The biggest difference is that in the NL, you know you have to be ready for every game, every inning, even when you're not in the starting lineup. They have double-switches, pinch-hitters, pinch-runners, and you feel like you play in 95 percent of the games. In the American League, if you don't start, you probably don't play. So I think it's an advantage for us."

On the other hand, it's a significant advantage for the AL clubs when NL teams visit for Interleague Play, because the NL teams are not built to include a DH. The Brewers will find themselves in that position beginning Monday, when they visit Anaheim for a three-game series against the Angels.

The Brewers will have more Interleague series on tap after that. The Twins and Mariners will visit Miller Park for six straight days from June 22-27.

First up, though, are the Rangers, a team that has undergone significant changes in the nine seasons since Melvin's departure. The only player left on Texas' Major League roster from 2001 is infielder Michael Young, who was acquired by Melvin in a trade with then-Blue Jays GM Gord Ash in July 2000 for pitcher Esteban Loaiza. Since '02, Ash has been Melvin's assistant GM in Milwaukee.

"He became a player," Melvin said of Young. "He's a perfect example of a player who worked hard and made himself into something, and he's a team guy. He was a Gold Glove second baseman for me, and he's such a team player that he has switched positions two times to accommodate the team. Not a lot of players would do that. Great character."

There are Brewers ties with the Rangers, though former outfielder prospect Nelson Cruz is on the disabled list and not expected to play Sunday, the first day he's eligible for reinstatement. The Rangers' pitching staff is coached by Mike Maddux, who was Milwaukee's pitching coach from 2003-08.

Melvin downplayed his reunion with the Rangers. The Brewers, after all, traveled to Arlington in 2008 for an Interleague series.

"We play them so much in Spring Training, too," Melvin said. "So it's not that big of a deal."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com reporter TR Sullivan contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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