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on June 23, 2014, 4:02 am
MILWAUKEE -- Prince Fielder is gone for good. Ryan Braun wasnt around on Sunday, either. The two names most frequently mentioned during the Milwaukee Brewers off-season werent a part of the teams fan festival in Milwaukee. And if thats the way things still look at the beginning of the season, the Brewers insist theyll be just fine. Milwaukee doesnt have its Prince any more -- but the Brewers still have a jester in their extroverted outfielder, Nyjer Morgan. Morgan said fans should be confident in the moves general manager Doug Melvin and assistant GM Gord Ash have made to put the Brewers in position to keep winning. "Basically, dont panic," Morgan said. "Everythings going to be OK. Were all professionals. Doug and Gord, they brought players in to help get us back on top and still continue what were doing. Theres no panic." The Brewers still expect to contend, even if their formula for winning might change. After spending the first seven seasons of his career bashing home runs for the Brewers, Fielder recently signed a nine-year, US$214 million free-agent deal with the Detroit Tigers. "I wish Prince the best. I dont wish him any ill will," Melvin told fans attending the teams "On Deck" event, who responded by applauding. "He helped turn this organization around." Melvin then got a laugh from the crowd when he added, "And Im glad he and Albert Pujols are in the American League." Braun, meanwhile, is awaiting a decision on his appeal of a potential 50-game suspension under baseballs drug policy. The National League MVP originally was scheduled to appear Sunday, but he withdrew a few days beforehand with his appeal still lingering. "Obviously, people want to talk about it," said closer John Axford of Simcoe, Ont. "They want to try to figure out whats happening, whats going on, and obviously I guess that times going to come soon. Being with Braunie and seeing how hard he works, I definitely have his back every step of the way." And while Brauns situation was something of a curveball to the teams front office, the Brewers pretty much knew all along that Fielder wouldnt be back. "Once he started saying he was going to get $200 million, I just went, oops," Melvin said of agent Scott Boras. "That wasnt going to work here." With Fielder gone and Braun potentially sitting out a large chunk of the season, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke hopes to tweak the teams winning formula. Even with the addition of slugging third baseman Aramis Ramirez through free agency, Roenicke talked Sunday about being more "creative" on offence and playing a different type of game. "I think some areas, were definitely going to focus on trying to get better in," Roenicke said. "Some things may not be as good. But our goal is certainly to do whatever it takes to get to the playoffs." To Morgan, that means manufacturing runs instead of swinging for the fences. "Its probably going to be a little more speedy this year," Morgan said. "You can see that were going to have to rely on trying to steal bags and stuff like that, and not worrying about trying to hit those gaps all the time. You can see what they brought in, and understand we still have a great team here and still got a great chance of doing what weve got to do." And while the Brewers were known primarily for the offensive exploits of Braun and Fielder in recent years, second baseman Rickie Weeks says this team has the best pitching he has seen during his time with the team. It could be even better than last year, given that Zack Greinke should be healthy to start the season and the Brewers will have a full year with Francisco Rodriguez in the eighth-inning setup role for Axford. "Ive been here for a pretty long time now, and we never had pitching," Weeks said. "Last year was the first time we had pitching. I dont care how much offence you have, if you dont have pitching you cant win ballgames. We have that now still. Prince, hell be missed, but at the same time I think we have some pieces in place that will still keep us at that top level." And while the Brewers will miss Fielders big bat, they dont seem overly concerned about replacing his leadership. In that respect, Corey Hart said veterans Craig Counsell, LaTroy Hawkins and Mark Kotsay will be missed more. "Its more of what he can do on the field for you than what he does in the clubhouse," Hart said. "I think losing Counsell and Hawk and Kotsay, those guys are more fixtures in kind of the leadership role. Prince is more leading by production." [url=http://www.worldcupjerseys.us.com/]cheap nfl jerseys[/url] . How much sleep do you get before a marathon broadcast like this? Sleep? What is this thing you speak of? 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[url=http://www.worldcupjerseys.us.com/]cheap jerseys from china[/url] . While watching Mondays outdoor game between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers at Citizens Bank Park, the 21-year-old forward posted a message to his Twitter account about getting the Leafs a spot in next years game. CLEVELAND -- Anthony Bennetts rough rookie season hit a new bump. The Cavaliers first-year forward will miss at least three weeks with a strained left knee, the latest setback for the No. 1 overall pick who has been a major disappointment for Cleveland. Bennett underwent an MRI on Sunday that showed a strain to his left patellar tendon. He played eight minutes in Saturdays home loss to the New York Knicks. The injury is another obstacle for Bennett, who has shown some improvement lately and signs of developing into a rotational player. "Hes been coming along," Cavs coach Mike Brown said following practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts. "Hes had some pretty good games for us on both ends of the floor. So its tough with the amount of time left in the season, but its part of this." The Cavs expected to endure some growing pains with Bennett, who played just one season at UNLV. The Canadian came into training camp overweight after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder and then it was learned he suffers from asthma, seasonal allergies and sleep apnea. Bennett has appeared lost at times on the floor, and it hasnt helped that hes put added pressure on himself trying to live up to being the top pick. Through it all, Bennett has continued to work hard and there have been flashes of the 6-foot-8, 260-pounders immense talent and potential. The Cavs will likely take a cautious approach with Bennett, and unless they move themselves into playoff position, its possible his season could be over. Bennetts averagging only 4.dddddddddddd1 points and 2.9 rebounds in 13 minutes per game. Also, Cavaliers All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving was sick and missed practice Monday. Hes not expected to miss any time and should be able to travel with the team, which begins a crucial three-game road trip on Wednesday in Phoenix. The Cavs are running out of time to get back into the playoff mix. They enter the week tied with the Knicks in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, 3 1-2 games behind Atlanta for the eighth post-season spot. After facing the Suns, the Cavs will visit Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers. Next week, the Cavs travel to Miami, Oklahoma City and Houston. The good news is that theyre getting healthier. Centre Anderson Varejao returned to the lineup Saturday after missing 12 games with a back issue and his minutes will likely increase over the next few games, Brown said. The Cavs will also have swingman C.J. Miles back in their rotation after he missed nine games with a sprained ankle. Owner Dan Gilbert vowed his team would be back in the playoffs for the first time since 2010, but that pledge wont happen if the Cavs dont start stringing wins together. On their last West Coast trip, they went 3-2 and played with confidence that carried them for several weeks. "We need to play well, obviously with where were sitting," Brown said. "Im looking forward to it and I think the guys are, too. Hopefully well do what were capable of and come back feeling good about ourselves." ' ' '