Some things to read while keeping it down.
The Brewers split a split squad doubleheader to open Cactus League play yesterday, but that wasn't the day's biggest news: Yuniesky Betancourt, who has been walked unintentionally just 100 times in 3057 career plate appearances, drew a free pass (on four pitches!) in his first plate appearance of the spring. Jack Moore of Disciples of Uecker has more.
Meanwhile, yesterday marked the spring debut of both Shaun Marcum and Bob Uecker. Adam McCalvy talked to Shaun Marcum about being under the radar this spring. Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar has some of his favorite Uecker quotes from the day.
Corey Hart, however, did not debut yesterday and won't for a while: Hart is expected to be out around two weeks with a muscle strain along his rib cage.
Other notes from the field and camp:
- The Prince Fielder walkoff home run celebration against the Giants in September of 2009 has apparently still not been forgotten: Fielder and Barry Zito exchanged pleasantries again yesterday after Zito walked Fielder in the first inning.
- Craig Calcaterra was in Mesa for the Brewers/Cubs game and made several observations, including noting the possibility that outfielder Reggie Keen came to the plate with a fungo bat in the eighth inning.
- Jeff Suppan pitched three scoreless innings for the Giants yesterday.
- The Brewers dug pretty deep into minor league camp to fill the late innings of yesterday's games: At one point in the Cubs game they had two #96's on the field (pitcher Eulogio De La Cruz and outfielder D'Vontrey Richardson).
- The Brat won the first sausage race of the spring in Maryvale.
- John Axford is feeling better and catching up with the other pitchers after missing some time to recover from food poisoning. He could pitch in a game as soon as Friday.
- Harper Babin of the Journal Sentinel talked to George Kottaras about catching.
- Kati Shearer of the JS profiled Brewers senior administrator of baseball operations Barb Stark, the team's lone remaining original employee.
Also, I'd like to point out that the Brewers are now 0-1 in games where Yuniesky Betancourt starts at short, and 1-0 when he doesn't.
Looking ahead, the Brewers continue Cactus League play today against the White Sox with what will probably be one of the best pitching matchups of the spring: Zack Greinke vs Mark Buehrle. Scott Merkin has already posted today's White Sox lineup, which features Lastings Milledge, Omar Vizquel and Adam Dunn.
With 18 innings of baseball yesterday, the Brewers used five catchers: George Kottaras, Martin Maldonado, Wil Nieves, Anderson De La Rosa and Tyler Roberts. Josh Wussow of Inside Wisconsin Sports has a look at the Brewers' catching situation while Jonathan Lucroy is out.
In a somewhat-related side note: TheJay spotted the first box score error of the spring, listing Zelous Wheeler as a catcher and Wil Nieves as a third baseman in the Brewers-Cubs game.
It's possible this could be the Brewers' second-to-last spring in Maryvale. Michael Hunt has a look at the Brewers efforts to move into a more modern facility.
As it turns out, I passed along some bad information yesterday regarding Casey McGehee's contract. It was my understanding that yesterday was the deadline for the Brewers to work out a deal with McGehee, but the team actually can't start renewing players until tomorrow, and won't hit the deadline to do so until March 11. My bad.
Ryan Braun made a nice defensive play yesterday (he called it "pretty spectacular") in the Cubs game. Is it possible he's not as bad defensively as we thought? David Pinto's five year Probabilistic Model of Range study shows the Brewers as having baseball's seventh-best left field defense over that time, and ranks Braun as baseball's seventh best defensive left fielder.
The Brewers' revamped pitching staff continues to be the center of attention this week. In one of the final posts written for MLB FanHouse, Jeff Fletcher has a look at the turn of events that brought us to this point. FanHouse has since been shut down.
Elsewhere in season previews: The USA Today had a great feature yesterday on the Brewers, written after spending a week in Maryvale getting to know this team. (FanShot)
The new pitching staff has led to questions like this one: FanSided asks if the Brewers can handle the pressure of this season's raised expectations.
In the minors:
- The Brewers didn't have any players on Baseball America's list of the top 100 prospects, but Mark Rogers might have come close: Five of the six voters had Rogers in their top 150, with one ranking him 83rd. (h/t Battlekow)
- Prospect Madness continues at Bernie's Crew: The last matchup I've seen features Caleb Gindl and Lucas Luetge.
Today in shameless self-promotion: Howie Magner has picked up his copy of the Maple Street Press Brewer Annual (and he's having a hard time putting it down). Have you? If not, you can look for it on newsstands starting today.
Also, if you can't get enough of me, you can tune in at 10:30 this morning and hear me on Fox Sports New Mexico with Steve Bortstein. If nothing else, you might hear the car door slam as I head off to the airport.
Today in former Brewers:
- Gregg Zaun's recovery from labrum surgery is nearly complete and he could play in a game as early as next week. Zaun is with the Padres this spring.
- Baseball Past and Present is the latest site to take a look at Jim Edmonds' Hall of Fame credentials.
- Dave Brown of Yahoo spent a few moments this week talking to Rollie Fingers and, as someone who really wants to like Rollie, I pretty much wish I hadn't read about it.
Everyone loves a good spring training prank, right? My favorite story today comes from Angels camp, where they showed prospect Mike Trout's phone number on the scoreboard during yesterday's game.
Yesterday I mentioned that former Seattle Pilot and 1970 Brewer Greg Goossen had passed away. Larry Stone of the Seattle Times has much more about Goossen, his appearance in Ball Four, his time in boxing and his work as a stand-in for Gene Hackman.
With help from the B-Ref Play Index, happy birthday today to 2006 Brewer Chris Barnwell, who turns 32.
A quick programming note: This will be my last Mug for about a week. As I alluded to above, I'm headed out to Arizona in a few hours and will be there until a week from today. Depending on my schedule and logistics I may do some writing while I'm out there, but I'm not promising anything. In the meantime, I've made arrangements for several writers you likely know to fill in for me while I'm gone. The first of them will be Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar, who steps in tomorrow morning.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have big plans.