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Weekend news and notes

Lots of things going on in Milwaukee and non-Milwaukee baseball:

WBC Update
The second round of the World Baseball Classic starts tomorrow.  Only one Brewer remains in the tournament: Jorge de la Rosa, who pitched quite well against Canada (and Corey Koskie) in pool play.  No big surprises, but I'm looking forward to this next round.  The teams are all relatively competitive, so the upsets could come fast and furious.  It's almost impossible to pick against Team USA, but I wouldn't be all that surprised if somehow Japan and Korea advanced to the Semifinals, leaving USA and Mexico behind.

Sheets's shoulder
Ben is seeing Dr. Raasch today.  To recap:

The Brewers' projected Opening Day starter exited Thursday's start against Oakland after allowing five runs in one-third of an inning and reported "irritation" in his right latissimus dorsi, the same upper-back muscle that tore last August and ended his season.

"I don't think anything structural popped or anything," Sheets said. "At least I'm trying to think so. I'm trying to think that the scar tissue is breaking up. I hope it's just scar tissue, but I don't know. I don't know what to expect."

Of course we need Ben in there, but as I've said roughly ten million times (sick of it yet?): that's the beauty of the Brewers' pitching depth.  We can go 10 deep against the starting staff of any team in baseball.  Which leads us to:

Helling on track
Rick Helling is set to pitch in a game early this coming week.  That's not great news for those of us <cough> who have Dave Bush on their fantasy teams, but it's good where it really matters, on the field.  Helling, who has never had arm trouble in his long career, trusts he'll be ready to go:

"There's plenty of time," Helling said. "We have more than three weeks to Opening Day. I'm not worried one bit about being ready."

And of course, Helling isn't the only option to step in should Sheets not be ready, which provides a nice segue to:

Eveland and Fernandez pitching well
At this point, Dana and Jared are #7 and #8 on the rotation depth chart, but you gotta figure one of them will end up with a few starts over the course of the season.  Fortunately, then, Yost has good things to say about both of them.  Regarding Eveland:

"Better, much better," Yost said after watching Eveland allow three hits and two earned runs in three innings against Arizona. "He was staying within himself and making pitches."

And about the knuckleballer:

"He has had short, quick innings," Yost said. "He throws that knuckleball, and then he throws an 83-mph fastball and jams good hitters. He's got some weapons."

I like it.  If nothing else, it'll be a good year to watch some baseball in Nashville.  Which, since I'm in a segueing mood, leads us to:

Vinny Rottino
Nice fluff piece about the minor league utility man.  I love the rare occasions when good hitters learn enough catching to be useful.  It seems like such a no-brainer for organizations to take somebody who might top out at AAA and see if they can catch.  Rottino will probably never be a big-league starter, but imagine the flexibility you get if Rottino is your backup catcher, he can hit, and he can also play just about anywhere else on the diamond.  You could make a case that Rottino ought to get a shot as the 25th man on the roster this year--in fact, I might make that case in an article in the next few days.  And one last thing...

Select-a-seat Open House
Miller Park will be open to prospective season-ticket package buyers tomorrow, so that we can see where seats are still available.  This is such a great idea--I imagine that teams do it for their inner-circle of season-ticket buyers, but rarely for everybody.  It's tough to judge how good a ticket is from a seating chart online, or by the description a phone rep gives you.  But I would bet that people will buy more tickets for more games if they can wander around and pick the best available spot.

If anybody goes, I'd love to hear about it; how the representatives treat you, and how the whole thing is handled.

Rain out today
The good news...tomorrow's game is televised, and it's also available online, for those of us who live outside of the region.  I'll open up a game thread tomorrow morning so we can chat about it as it goes on.  

I expect to see you all here--2:05 CT on the dot!