Thursday's Frosty Mug

Zach Braddock has changed up the facial hair a bit this spring and doesn't look as much like Jeff Suppan, but his results have certainly been Soup-like.

Some things to read while utilizing strategic blanks.

Today is a strong reminder that it's spring training for everyone. Since the Brewers played their lone night game of the spring last night, today I'm making 2011's first transition from "writing about baseball late at night" to "writing about baseball first thing in the morning." Bear with me: I'm hoping to get better at it as the season goes along.

As we have so many other days this spring, we open this morning with bad news on the injury front: Corey Hart's oblique is still bothering him, and it's starting to look like he's going to have a hard time getting ready in time for Opening Day.

Chris Dickerson could be a candidate to replace Hart in right, but he needs to get healthy first. He was a late scratch from last night's game with continued soreness in his ribs.

The more I see Brandon Boggs this spring, the more I think he might be the best candidate for the fourth outfielder spot. Boggs fell behind 0-2 to Mariners top prospect Michael Pineda in the second inning last night but managed to draw a walk in an 11 pitch plate appearance.

If you stayed up to watch the late innings of last night's game, you saw another rough outing from Zach Braddock. The lefty allowed the first three batters he faced to reach for the second straight appearance, and gave up a three run home run to Brendan Ryan.

Braddock's rough spring has drawn the attention of Ron Roenicke, who says the lefty could pitch multiple innings next time out in an effort to get straightened out, or could pitch in a minor league game. Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar, though, cites small sample size and says the Brewers should stop worrying about it. Jordan Schelling is blaming the issue on a number change.

Of course, John Axford hasn't been that good this spring either. He told Adam McCalvy he's not worried, though, and spent the day yesterday learning to tap dance with LaTroy Hawkins. One-Man Sausage Fest has a look at the recent history of Brewer closers.

Bullpen struggles may be the topic du jour, but injuries remain the top story this spring. Michael Hunt reports that Ron Roenicke is looking into this spring's rash of injuries, trying to find a root cause.

The only advantage to FSWisconsin's decision to join last night's broadcast in progress was the fact that we didn't have to see much of Yuniesky Betancourt. The Twitter reaction from the people who did see him, though, was not positive. First, here's Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune:

Yuni is, um, well, a little larger than the last time I saw him.

And from Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing:

Three teams and Yuni still runs like he's trying to squeeze through a crowd on the sidewalk.

Then, from @NotZackGreinke:

I told Yuni a pitching screen could cover more ground than he does at short. He laughed and thought I was kidding.

Other notes from the field:

With all of this spring's injuries and uncertainty, we haven't spent much time discussing the likely Opening Day lineup. David Pinto of Baseball Musings estimates that the Brewers' likely lineup should average around 4.68 runs per game, but the Brewers could bump that up to 4.81 runs per game with the following alignment:

Prince Fielder, 1B
Ryan Braun, LF
Rickie Weeks, 2B
Corey Hart, RF
Casey McGehee, 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS
Carlos Gomez, CF
Jonathan Lucroy, C

How soon is too soon to start worrying about a struggling starting pitcher? Randy Wolf is having a tough spring, but Josh Wussow of Inside Wisconsin Sports says it's too early to get concerned.

In the minors:

  • Baseball America reports the Brewers have added a minor league shortstop, 26-year-old Yancarlos Ortiz. Ortiz split the 2010 season between AA and AAA in the Twins organization, hitting .180/.238/.232 in 84 games. It's probably safe to assume he's little more than organizational depth.
  • Joel Pierce's hometown paper, the Windsor Star, has a story on his time in minor league camp.
  • Prospect Madness continues at Bernie's Crew. Follow this link to vote for Kentrail Davis or Brandon Kintzler.
  • Rattler Radio would like you to see how much snow one 50+ degree day can melt.

Around baseball:

Angels: Reliever Scott Downs will likely open the season the DL with a broken toe.

Here are today's former Brewer notes:

It always surprises me that we don't hear more about injuries from flying bats. Jason Beck of noted that new Cardinal Lance Berkman threw two bats in the direction of the Tigers' dugout yesterday, and one of them hit coach Rafael Belliard. Fortunately, Belliard was ok.

This diet would kill most of us, but I guess that's why they call him The Freak. Tim Lincecum's typical order at In N Out involves three double cheeseburgers, two orders of fries and a shake.

Happy birthday today to 2010 Nashville Sound A.J. Murray, who turns 29.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get the mail.

Drink up.

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