The Cactus League is up and running and we're looking at this weekend's games and more in today's daily roundup of all things Brewers.
Some things to read while easing into it.
Good morning and welcome to day 14 of spring training 2013, the Brewers' first opportunity to bounce back from a Cactus League loss. They fell 7-4 to the Indians yesterday, and we've got your recap if you missed it.
Mark Rogers struggled in his first start of the spring yesterday, allowing two runs on two hits and three walks while failing to complete two innings. Until Adam McCalvy and others mentioned it I didn't realize that yesterday was Rogers' first-ever Cactus League start.
The first base challenge continues to be one of camp's top stories and another chapter was written over the weekend. Here's a player-by-player update:
- Taylor Green started the Brewers' first spring contest at first on Saturday and went 0-for-1 with two walks, then started at second base on Sunday. Tim Muma of Brewers Mix says the Brewers should "let him have April."
- Alex Gonzalez manned the position on Sunday. Gonzalez, for what it's worth, nearly started a 3-6-1 double play early yesterday and was strongly credited for his defensive work.
- Hunter Morris, meanwhile, was the DH on Saturday and replaced Gonzalez at first base on Sunday. He's 0-for-5 in his first at bats of the spring.
- Sean Halton played a little first base on Saturday, then picked up his first hit of the spring as a pinch hitter on Sunday.
- Martin Maldonado has yet to appear in a Cactus League game, but Benjamin Orr of Reviewing the Brew says he should be considered.
With that said, Corey Hart is still telling reporters (most recently Jon Heyman) that he expects to be ready in late April or early May. Tracy Ringolsby of MLB.com also talked to Hart about his rehab.
Carlos Gomez got his spring off to a good, if unusual, start by drawing a walk in the intrasquad game and two more on Saturday. Gomez told Tom Haudricourt he's working on his plate discipline, and offered this quote:
"I'd like my on-base percentage to be .350. If they walk me, I can steal second and third and score even without (someone getting) a base hit."
The Frequent Codger says he could be a dark horse candidate to have a breakout season in 2013.
Meanwhile, Aramis Ramirez started both Saturday and Sunday's games at third base and went a combined 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts. He told Adam McCalvy he plans to play a lot this spring in an effort to avoid his typical April struggles. Eric Nehm took a deeper look at his issues on Friday.
Other notes from camp:
- John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group has a photo of Jemile Weeks stepping in against Mike Fiers to start Saturday's game.
- The Brewer Nation has video of Ryan Braun's home run from Saturday. BrewGIFs also has it in gif form.
- Jesus Sanchez picked up the save on Saturday, and Adam McCalvy has a story on his transition from minor league catcher to major league bullpen candidate.
- Robinzon Diaz started at catcher for the Brewers on Sunday and has a chance to be #3 on the depth chart at the position on Opening Day. Adam McCalvy has a story on the late addition to major league camp.
- ASU student Jason Galvin of the JS has a video story on Norichika Aoki's second spring in Brewer camp.
- Todd Rosiak has stories on infielders Jeff Bianchi and Donnie Murphy as they compete for the final infield spot on the bench.
- John Hickey reports that Ariel Pena looks like former big league outfielder Milton Bradley, has pictures of Bradley in his locker and is called "Happy Milton" by his teammates.
- Bernie Brewer was in attendance for Saturday's home opener and has a photo diary.
- ASU student Alexia Porto of the JS also has a photo diary from Saturday.
The Brewers are back on the field today with their first split-squad doubleheader of the spring: Hiram Burgos will get the start at home against the Padres and Tyler Thornburg will lead the road team to Goodyear to face the Reds. Reliever Michael Olmsted tweeted that he's also making the trip to Reds camp.
Meanwhile, the Brewers are taking it slow with two prospective members of their rotation. Chris Narveson is still throwing live bullpen sessions and isn't ready for game action, and Wily Peralta is skipping a turn in the rotation after reporting some shoulder soreness. It's too early to panic in either case, but this does highlight the Brewers' lack of pitching depth.
And that brings us back around to Kyle Lohse. Jon Heyman has a list of eight teams that could still sign the top remaining free agent, but says the Brewers are the team that should do it. Heyman has developed a reputation for talking up Scott Boras clients, and Lohse is one. Dan Moore of Viva El Birdos is downplaying the rumor.
With that said, Lohse isn't the only available option. The Dodgers have an overflow of starting pitching this spring and are reportedly looking to move Chris Capuano. He's 34 years old and posted a 3.72 ERA over 33 starts for Los Angeles last season.
Of course, without Lohse or Capuano this is still a pretty inexperienced pitching staff. Michael P. Bischoff of ThirdCoast Digest says "the law of averages says the young pitching staff will struggle, and the Brewers will struggle with them."
It's worth noting that the Brewers face a tough challenge if they're going to compete in the NL Central this season. Ryan Smith of Cream City Cables previewed the division and predicts that both the Reds and Cardinals will win more than 90 games.
John Axford pitched a scoreless inning in relief on Saturday, but this may have been a bigger accomplishment: He's drawing a fair amount of attention this morning for having correctly predicted 14 of the 15 winners at last night's Academy Awards.
If you'd like more Brewer coverage this morning but you're sick of reading, Friday's Home Stretch Hangout has been archived and features Justin Hull and I discussing Jean Segura. We'll be back later today to talk more.
Blue Jays: Acquired pitcher Michael Schwimmer from the Phillies for a minor leaguer.
Marlins: Catcher Jeff Mathis may not be ready for Opening Day after breaking his collarbone.
Pirates: Signed pitcher Jose Contreras to a minor league deal.
Red Sox: Signed pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith to a minor league deal.
White Sox: Acquired 1B/3B Conor Gillaspie from the Giants for a minor league pitcher and designated first baseman Lars Anderson for assignment.
Yankees: Outfielder Curtis Granderson will open the season on the DL with a broken arm.
Today in former Brewers:
- Mark Sheldon of MLB.com has a story on Manny Parra, who spent the winter working with a sports psychologist and said this spring "feels like a totally new beginning."
- Shaun Marcum started the Mets' first Grapefruit League game on Saturday and allowed three runs over two innings.
- Mitch Stetter is in camp with the Angels but has been limited by a back injury for most of the last month.
- Noted leisured gentleman Carson Cistulli of NotGraphs has gifs from three different angles of Prince Fielder's bat flip following a spring home run.
- Patrick Dubuque of NotGraphs has a look back at the career of Dave Bush.
- James Gentile of Beyond the Box Score is listing Hank Aaron as the eighth most underrated player of all time.
Last week I mentioned that Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk labeled Milwaukee as the Packers' city, but did rank the Brewers ahead of the Bucks. Over the weekend Joe Posnanski confirmed that ranking, but also listed the city as one of many underrated places to watch baseball.
Unfortunately, Milwaukee is a bit lacking in cinematic history. Kevin Kaduk of Big League Stew has a look at all 30 teams' movie appearances, and cites Mr. 3000 as the primary Brewer moment.
Last week I also mentioned that Pirates catcher Russell Martin would be playing for Canada in the World Baseball Classic, and was expected to play shortstop. That idea has since been scrapped and Martin will remain in Pirates camp.
Today's edition of Today In Brewer History marks 1960's Milwaukee Braves pitcher Denny Lemaster's 74th birthday. Today is also longtime Milwaukee Brave Andy Pafko's 92nd birthday, and Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times notes that he's one of just two living players who appeared in a World Series with the Cubs. Plunk Everyone also notes that Pafko's 76 career HBP are the most ever for a player born on February 25.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need a refill.