PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) - Milwaukee has an opening at first base, and Mat Gamel is making the most of the opportunity.
Gamel hit a grand slam and a solo homer Saturday, leading the Brewers to a 10-7 victory over a split-squad of San Diego Padres.
Gamel, who is expected to replace departed slugger Prince Fielder, hit a drive to right against Tim Stauffer during Milwaukee's six-run third inning. Three innings later, Gamel added a solo shot off closer Huston Street.
``I'm excited to break with the big club and be a part of it all,' said Gamel, who has appeared in 85 games in parts of four major league seasons. ``It's been a tough club to make the last couple of seasons, especially with the positions I play. I never really produced when I came off the bench so that was out of the question.'
When Fielder signed a $214 million contract with Detroit in January, it was widely assumed Gamel would have an opportunity to win the job. A fourth-round draft pick in 2005, Gamel hit .310 with 28 homers and 96 RBIs at Triple-A Nashville last season.
Though he hasn't officially learned he will make the club, Gamel has done nothing to hurt his chances of making the opening-day roster. Gamel leads Milwaukee with six homers and 14 RBIs this spring.
``He's working hard,' manager Ron Roenicke said. ``He got himself in great shape coming in and he knows the job is there for him. He's dedicated himself enough to where I think he has put himself in position where he has a good chance at having a good year. He's worked hard on a different setup in his batting stance and I think it's working well.'
Alex Gonzalez and Carlos Gomez also homered for the Brewers. NL MVP Ryan Braun went 2 for 3 to raise his average to .216.
``You look at his last seven at_bats and six have been stung,' Roenicke said of Braun.
Stauffer, San Diego's likely opening-day starter, allowed six runs and seven hits in five innings, but manager Bud Black saw some good signs during the 81-pitch outing.
``He hung in there,' Black said. ``He had the rough inning. But I thought his stuff was a little better, which was a good sign.'
Street, who takes over for departed free agent Heath Bell in the closer's role, also had a rough inning. Street, who was acquired from the Colorado Rockies for a minor leaguer in November, allowed four runs.
Padres outfielder Jesus Guzman hit a three-run homer off Chris Narveson, who gave up seven runs, five earned, and seven hits in five innings.
Nyjer Morgan went 1 for 2 with an RBI for the Brewers.
Chris Denorfia and Kyle Blanks each had two hits for San Diego.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved