Notes: Jenkins laying into lefties
Club signs five, renews Fielder; Villanueva blanks old team
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brewers outfielder Geoff Jenkins, who was outspoken early in camp against giving up at-bats against left-handers, is apparently letting his bat do the talking.
Jenkins had another solid game Friday, when a Brewers split-squad throttled the Giants, 21-2, at Scottsdale Stadium. He went 3-for-5 with three runs and an RBI, including a single off Giants left-hander Ryan Meaux in a six-run Brewers third inning. In Thursday's win over the A's, Jenkins went 2-for-3, including an opposite-field RBI single off lefty Erasmo Ramirez.
"It's early in camp, but I'm just trying to do good against everybody," said a typically mellow Jenkins. "They've got a plan, and it's all good and we're on track. Everybody's happy."
That was not the case when Jenkins reported last month. The Brewers are mulling a platoon in left field between Jenkins, who hit .133 against left-handers last season, and Kevin Mench, who is a career .303 hitter against them. Both players made it clear they want to play every day, whether in Milwaukee or someplace else.
But Jenkins' early success against southpaws may be raising some eyebrows. New Brewers hitting coach Jim Skaalen was particularly impressed by Jenkins' at-bat against Ramirez on Thursday.
"He got to two strikes and just let his hands do the work, and we've talked so much in camp about two-strike approach," Skaalen said. "That's what shows me he has the ability. Mench has the same ability. Billy [Hall] has the same ability. Now it's just trusting that and not over-swinging."
Might Jenkins be trying to make a statement?
"I haven't seen anything different than I've ever seen before from Jenks," said Skaalen, who was a longtime Brewers Minor League coach before taking his current job.
Asked again Friday whether he's happy, Jenkins said, "It's all good.
"I usually feel horrible early in camp," he said. "It just takes me a while. But I like the fact that I'm using the field and spraying the ball around. It means you're keeping that front shoulder on the ball, and that's good."
Back to business: The Brewers came to terms Friday with five players but were forced to renew the contract of first baseman Prince Fielder because they couldn't agree on a salary with Fielder's agent, Scott Boras.
Fielder will earn $415,000 in 2007, which the Brewers will tell you is an $85,500 raise from the $329,500 he earned last season and $15,000 more than what the Marlins are paying reigning National League rookie of the year Hanley Ramirez. But because the Major League minimum salary increased from $327,000 to $380,000 this year, Boras argued that Fielder deserved a bigger bump.
Fielder finished seventh in National League rookie balloting after hitting .271 with 28 home runs and 81 RBIs.
"What complicated this is the minimum salary going up," Melvin said. "It was a good rookie crop last year, and now a lot of those guys are only making $20,000-$30,000 more than this year's rookies. They are upset about that. But they have to look at their increase over last year."
Friday was the first day teams could renew contracts of pre-arbitration players, at the salary of the team's choosing. Clubs typically try to avoid renewals because they can lead to animosity later on.
Melvin said he had one last conversation on Friday morning with Boras and that he also spoke with Fielder.
"I don't think there are any hard feelings," Melvin said.
Fielder is currently sidelined by a quadriceps strain. He did not take any batting practice on Friday and did not attend either split-squad game.
JD Closser, Gabe Gross, Tony Gwynn, Jr., J.J. Hardy and Corey Hart all came to terms on one-year deals Friday. Every member of Milwaukee's 40-man roster is now signed.
He's come a long way: Carlos Villanueva worked two scoreless innings on Friday against the Giants, his original organization. San Francisco traded Villanueva and right-hander Glenn Woolard to Milwaukee for pitchers Leo Estrella and Wayne Franklin on March 30, 2004.
Melvin approached Villanueva on Friday morning with some background on the deal. The teams were close on a two-for-one swap that would have brought only Woolard from the Giants. Melvin told Giants GM Brian Sabean that he needed another player to make the deal even.
"[Sabean] said, 'Yeah, I've got this young guy with a crisp breaking ball and good command. I can't seem to remember his name,'" Villanueva relayed with a smile. "I guess it doesn't surprise me. I had only played rookie ball, so it's not that bad. But it's kind of funny now that I'm here facing them."
Once again, the offense was the big story Friday. The Brewers banged out 24 hits, Hernan Iribarren and Closser had seven RBIs and one home run apiece, and Ryan Braun also homered. Braun hit a pair of home runs in Thursday's opener, when he had seven RBIs.
"Some of the offense today was wind-aided," manager Ned Yost said. "Iri's first ball, I thought it was a fly ball. Braun's was a different story -- that ball was driven."
Progress: Second baseman Rickie Weeks went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts in the other split-squad game, a 7-6 loss to the A's. Weeks, who had been held back because of a sore right wrist, was allowed to swing away for the first time.
"I feel pretty good," Weeks said the previous afternoon. "The soreness is still there, but I think it's going to be there for a while because of the scar tissue. I'm cleared and ready."
He walked in the second inning, popped out to shortstop in the fourth and struck out swinging in the sixth. Weeks batted again in the eighth inning and reverted to bunting, pushing a third strike foul.
On deck: The Brewers and Giants will meet again on Saturday at Maryvale Baseball Park. Ben Sheets will pitch for Milwaukee against Giants righty Matt Morris in the first game to be broadcast on the Brewers Radio Network with Bob Uecker and Jim Powell.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.