Notes: Turnbow inks contract extension
Davis may be next; fans come out for 'Brewers On Deck'
MILWAUKEE -- A year ago, Derrick Turnbow wasn't even sure if he had made the Brewers' roster. On Sunday, he not only made the cut but got a new, three-year contract.
Turnbow, who came virtually out of nowhere and tied the franchise record with 39 saves last season, is guaranteed $6.5 million over the course of the deal, which runs through 2008 and "buys out" his first two seasons of arbitration eligibility.
"I don't think I can fathom it, to be honest with you," Turnbow said. "Last year, we were up here for the exhibition games, and I was still hoping to be on the team.
"A year later, it's a totally different situation. I would have never believed it would happen. It's just been amazing."
Turnbow had already signed a one-year, $488,000 contract for 2006, but that was folded into his new deal. The Brewers will pay a $512,000 signing bonus that essentially boosts Turnbow's 2006 salary to $1 million, and he will earn base salaries of $2.3 million in 2007 and $3.2 million in 2008.
Similar to the contract Doug Davis signed in 2004, the deal carries benefits and risks for both sides.
"This is a perfect example of the player giving up something in terms of ultimate dollar and the club taking a risk," assistant general manager Gord Ash said. "We get cost certainty, and we may get some cost savings, but it's about more than that. It's about another building block and an indication that this club is a place where players want to be."
The Brewers claimed Turnbow off waivers from the Angels in October 2004, and he worked with pitching coach Mike Maddux last spring to improve his pitching mechanics. Suddenly, Turnbow could throw his 97-98 mph fastball where he wanted it to go, and the results quickly followed.
Turnbow supplanted Mike Adams as the Brewers closer in late April and finished the year 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA in a team-high 69 games. He started working a slider into his repertoire after the All-Star break and became virtually unhittable, notching 22 saves and posting a 0.90 second-half ERA.
Ash and general manager Doug Melvin had conversations with Turnbow's agent, Rick Thurman, through the spring. A deal was struck Sunday morning before the team hosted "Brewers On Deck" at Miller Park.
"It takes some pressure off and gives you a little bit of security as far as the contract goes, but it adds more pressure because you're supposed to go out there and perform," said Turnbow, 28. "Hopefully I can do that."
On deck? Davis, the Brewers' scheduled starter for Monday's season opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates, is entering the final year of his deal. He is then eligible for one more year of arbitration before hitting free agency after the 2007 season.
Owner Mark Attanasio and Ash said Sunday that Davis may be next on the team's list for exploratory talks about an extension.
"Doug [Melvin] has had some preliminary conversations with [Davis'] agent and asked him if he was thinking that way to submit a proposal, and we'll look at it," Ash said.
Davis has made it clear he would like to stay in Milwaukee.
Fans show support: According to the team's unofficial count, more than 15,000 fans attended Sunday's free event at Miller Park.
Players and coaches signed autographs before taking their first batting practice at Miller Park. In the background, FSN North staged a live, hour-long broadcast previewing the season.
Are the higher-than-ever expectations facing the team a blessing or a curse?
"Oh, it's a blessing," manager Ned Yost said. "We've been waiting for this. I don't know why people want to think it's a curse. We've been waiting for it for three years.
"But expectations are nothing unless we go out and live up to them. They don't mean a thing right now. It's all fun and games. It's our job to live up to those expectations. ... It's a challenge, but it's a challenge we've been looking forward to."
Players and fans got their first look at some of the ballpark's new features, including the right-field party area, a bright ribbon LED board on the club-level façade and a huge video board built right into the left-field wall. The Brewers' contribution to capital improvements this season was about $2 million, a team spokesman said.
It's a go: Center fielder Brady Clark, who sprained his ankle on Thursday and missed the final two games in Spring Training, worked out Sunday and will "be ready to go tomorrow," Yost said. Clark is penciled in as the Brewers leadoff hitter.
Roster set: All Jared Fernandez had to do Sunday to earn an Opening Day roster spot was stay healthy. Turns out he had a close call during batting practice.
"Someone hit a long, high home run and I turned around to see if I could play it off the wall, and I just got smoked," said Fernandez, who was hit in the backside by a line drive. "I said, 'I'm just going to come sit in the bathroom for the rest of BP.'"
But he was fine, and after the workout, the Brewers formally purchased Fernandez's contract. The team also returned Mark Johnson and Vinny Rottino to Minor League camp and set its 25-man roster for Opening Day:
Pitchers (12): Dave Bush, Jose Capellan, Chris Capuano, Davis, Jorge De La Rosa, Fernandez, Rick Helling, Dan Kolb, Justin Lehr, Tomo Ohka, Turnbow and Matt Wise.
Catchers (2): Damian Miller and Chad Moeller.
Infielders (6): Jeff Cirillo, Prince Fielder, Bill Hall, J.J. Hardy, Corey Koskie and Rickie Weeks.
Outfielders (5): Clark, Gabe Gross, Corey Hart, Geoff Jenkins and Carlos Lee.
It's the first big-league opener for Fielder, Weeks, Hart and Lehr.
For openers: Parking lots will open at 9 a.m. CT, and the Miller Park gates open at 11 a.m. on Monday. Davis' first pitch is scheduled for 1:07 p.m.
All fans attending the game will receive a complimentary magnetic schedule courtesy of Edy's and Pick 'N Save.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.