Jun 10, 2010, 1:46 PM EDT
Milwaukee essentially lost a pair of catchers yesterday, with 39-year-old veteran Gregg Zaun deciding to undergo season-ending (and perhaps career-threatening) shoulder surgery and 24-year-old prospect Angel Salome requesting a move to the outfield.
Zaun has remained productive well past the point most catchers flame out, hitting .265 with a .743 OPS in 28 games this season while getting on base above a .340 clip for the seventh straight year, but he’ll be 40 before the start of next season and had modest arm strength even before the surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Zaun admitted yesterday that the Brewers would probably be smart to choose a $250,000 buyout over a $2.25 million on him for next year and said he’s uncertain about trying to play a 17th season. “I’d like to prove to myself that I can still play, so an injury won’t be the thing that ends my career.”
Salome was once considered the Brewers’ catcher of the future, but his hitting declined following a breakout 2008 season at Double-A and his defense was never considered a strong point. He also left the Triple-A team early this season for the birth of a child and later took an extended leave, telling the Brewers he was “struggling mentally” and “not mentally prepared to play.”
Now he’s a 5-foot-7 corner outfielder without much speed and with a .759 OPS in 87 games at Triple-A, and the Brewers have demoted him to Single-A to get comfortable at the new position. “Certainly, his path to the big leagues is a lot less cluttered as a catcher,” assistant general manager Gord Ash said. “But this is what he says he wants to do, so we’re going to give it a try and see what happens.”
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