Brewers look to newcomer for spark against Twins
MILWAUKEE — A little more than five years after he received a $500 bonus after signing as a non-drafted free agent out of Baylor University, Nate Orf is finally in the big leagues.
The Milwaukee Brewers selected Orf’s contract Monday from Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he was batting .307 with six home runs and 38 RBIs. Those numbers landed him a spot in the Pacific Coast League’s All-Star team but also fueled a social media movement — #FreeNateOrf — amongst Brewers fans wanting the 28-year-old to get his shot.
“This is the day you put all the work in for,” Orf said. “I signed for $500. This is why I signed for $500, to grind out as long as I needed to have this day come.””
Orf made his debut Monday night in Milwaukee’s 6-5 victory over the Twins and will likely be in the lineup against Tuesday afternoon as the Brewers continue their three-game holiday series at Miller Park.
“He’s a good player. He’s a very good hitter,” manager Craig Counsell said. “He has earned this.”
The Brewers are hoping Orf can provide a spark at a position that’s been an offensive liability all season. Though Jonathan Villar has shown improvement after a dismal 2017 campaign, Brewers’ second basemen are seventh in the NL with a .676 OPS this season, ninth with a .252 average and .299 on-base percentage.
Orf will also see time at shortstop, where Orlando Arcia had struggled to get into a rhythm since opening day and was demoted to Triple-A for the second time this season over the weekend.
“I still firmly believe that Orlando Arcia is going to be a very, very good player in this league for a long time,” general manager David Stearns said. “We have continued to see the defensive contributions he makes on a daily basis but we need to do better offensively.
“At this stage of the year, Orlando was not the type of offensive player we needed. I think we all bear some responsibility for that. As an organization, we need to help Orlando get through this.”
Looking to snap a three-game losing streak, the Brewers will turn to Junior Guerra on Tuesday. The right-hander won for the first time since May 14 his last time out despite allowing four runs over six innings against the Reds.
He struck out six in that outing and has 20 over his last three starts.
Right-hander Jake Odorizzi takes the mound for Minnesota hoping to build some momentum after getting back on track with six shutout innings of the White Sox in his last outing.
Odorizzi had a 3.34 ERA and was averaging nearly a strikeout per inning over his first 11 starts but stumbled mightily at the end of May, kick off a five-stark skid that saw him post a 9.74 ERA over the five stars leading up to his appearance in Chicago.
Extra work in the video room revealed a slight flaw in his delivery and during a bullpen session ahead of his last start, he worked on getting back to his normal mechanics.
“Pitching through a (back) injury last year created bad habits,” Odorizzi told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “It you do it for long enough, it creates an even worse habit, even when you’re healthy. Muscle memory takes over.”
Tuesday will mark Odorizzi’s third career start against the team that selected him in the first round (32nds overall) of the 2008 MLB Draft but the first time he’ll pitch at Miller Park.
He’s 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in his two previous starts against Milwaukee and held the Brewers to a run on five hits and a pair of walks while striking out 10 back on May 20, but did not factor into the decision.