Gamel Moving to the Outfield?

Milwaukee Brewers Mat Gamel watches his three-run home run against the St. Louis Cardinals in the third inning at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on May 18, 2009. (UPI Photo/Bill Greenblatt) Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom

Corey Hart wasn’t traded at the deadline on Saturday, but that probably won’t stop the rumors from swirling. One thing that won’t help — Mat Gamel started in right field for the Nashville Sounds on Saturday night.

Now, it’s entirely possible this doesn’t mean anything, at least when it comes to Hart. Nashville manager Don Money has been vocal about his disappointment in Gamel’s lack of progress at third base, even seemingly questioning Gamel’s commitment to getting better. Maybe this is just his way of keeping Gamel in the lineup while getting a more steady glove at third base.

Admittedly, that scenario doesn’t seem likely. I don’t think Money is dying to find a way to get Ray Olmedo into the lineup. The fact that Gamel is starting to play right field on July 31, a day on which the parent club’s current right fielder was apparently almost traded, seems at least a little suspicious.

That’s not to say I don’t agree with it. I think it’s a fantastic idea. Gamel has the arm and the athleticism to handle a move to the outfield well, and he’ll still hit well enough to have pretty good value out there. Getting to the ball wasn’t his problem at third base — it mostly planting his feet and making an accurate throw. That’s less of an issue in right field.

While a lot of people are going to read into this as proof that Hart is being moved this winter, that may not necessarily be the case. If Gamel is going to learn right field (and play it well), it’s probably going to take longer than the remainder of Nashville’s season to do it. Considering the front office’s recent remarks about possibly contending next season with this group of players, it’s entirely possible that the right field experiment continues for Gamel into next season. It wouldn’t be ideal — he’d be turning 26 next year and in his third year of Triple A — but with the way the organization has treated Gamel, would it really surprise anyone?

With this year’s non-waiver trade deadline passing them by, the Brewers effectively have 12 months to figure out what they’re going to do with Corey Hart — and Mat Gamel. Saturday night may be a step in the right direction.

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