Thursday's Frosty Mug: Cue the Cactus

Norm Hall

We'll get you ready for the first official game of the spring in today's roundup of all things Brewers.

Some things to read while monologuing.

Today is the 13th day of spring training 2014, and it's time to hit the field as the Brewers travel to Phoenix Municipal Stadium to play their Cactus League opener against the A's at 2 pm Central time. TV and radio are off today, but Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder will have their first Brewers.com webcast of the spring. The first WTMJ game of the spring will be tomorrow in Scottsdale, and FS Wisconsin hits the air for the first time when the Brewers play their home opener on Saturday.

Saturday's FS Wisconsin telecast will be their first of 16 this spring, and Nick Michalski of The Brewers Bar notes that that's a major improvement over the five they carried last March. Every home game this spring will be televised, and the Brewers are in Maryvale for seven games in a ten-day stretch from March 1-10.

As of this writing I haven't seen a lineup for today's game, but we've been told to expect Ryan Braun to be in it. The A's have already posted their lineup.

Marco Estrada is expected to start for the Brewers today, piggybacking with Wily Peralta. After that Yovani Gallardo is expected to pitch on Friday, Kyle Lohse (home) and Mike Fiers (away) will pitch in Saturday's split-squad doubleheader and Matt Garza will make his Brewers debut on Sunday. Looking further ahead, that would seem to imply that Jimmy Nelson or Tyler Thornburg could get the ball on Monday.

Other notes from camp:

We'll learn a little more about the 2014 Brewers in the coming weeks, but here's a cause for some optimism: Between the Atlantic Casino's original announcement on February 14 and Bovada's unveiling yesterday the Brewers got a win better, with their 2014 over/under climbing from 78.5 to 79.5. I think many of us would still be disappointed with a losing season, but at least the line is headed in the right direction.

Of course, this doesn't help. Once the Brewers get past the Cactus League schedule, they'll open the 2014 regular season with their most challenging stretch of the year. 32 of their first 41 games this year are against teams that had winning records in 2013, including the Cardinals, Pirates, Reds, Red Sox and Yankees.

There's a strong chance the Brewers will have to get through some of those games without Tom Gorzelanny, currently limited in camp as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. Yesterday The Brewer Nation profiled the veteran lefty as part of their "Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers" series.

In the minors:

Back in Milwaukee, this weekend is the Brewers' annual "Arctic Tailgate," but "arctic" is a pretty on-the-nose assessment of conditions outside in Wisconsin this week. Due to forecasted subzero temperatures, the Brewers won't allow fans to start lining up to purchase single-game tickets until noon on Friday.

I mentioned earlier that Bob Uecker will make his spring debut tomorrow as WTMJ broadcasts their first game of the spring. Maybe he'll dust off one of these suits for the occasion: Carson Cistulli of NotGraphs has a gif of Uecker's unique clothing choices for his many appearances on The Tonight Show.

Around baseball:

White Sox: Claimed pitcher Maikel Cleto off waivers from the Royals and designated infielder Jake Elmore for assignment.

Another day has passed and three of this winter's protected free agents remain out on the open market. Michael Clair of MLB Daily Dish is the latest to argue that the free agent market is broken.

Today in former Brewers: Prince Fielder is featured prominently in Bill Hanstock of SBNation.com's look at teams taking their spring training photos in restrooms.

My favorite spring training story from today comes from Indians camp, where a photographer caught the perfect picture of outfielder Carlos Moncrief making a catch in front of an ad for a home builder.

This story is also kind of fun: The Padres are going to open up Petco Park for fans to come on the field for eight hours on March 15, allow them to take one swing at a pitch and potentially win season tickets by hitting a home run in one of baseball's most pitcher-friendly facilities.

Today's sabermetric note comes via Baseball In-Depth, who notes that eight teams held opposing batters to slugging percentages under .370 in the second half of the 2013 season. That didn't happen a single time from 2004-08.

Finally, with help from Brewerfan.net and the B-Ref Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy birthday today to:

Plunk Everyone notes that Stairs' 57 career HBP are the most ever for a position player born on Feburary 27. Yovani Gallardo's 14 hit batsmen are also the fourth most ever for a pitcher born on this date.

And, with that, I'm off for a bit. I'm flying out for Arizona in a few hours and will be out there until Tuesday. The BCB staff is coming together to make sure the site won't miss a beat while I'm gone, though, and I'll be chiming in a few times to fill in the gaps from the road.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find a razor.

Drink up.

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