Notes: Brewers roster nearly finalized
Position player spot, bullpen job still to be determined
PHOENIX -- Vinny Rottino grew up about a half hour's drive from Milwaukee, yet he has never been to a Brewers home opener. Now that he is vying for the team's final roster spot, Rottino can't help but think about what it would feel like to experience his first Opening Day from the field."It would be a dream come true," Rottino said. "I'd have a lot of people on the pass list, that's for sure." The final positional spot is down to Rottino, who is listed in the media guide as an "infielder/outfielder/catcher," and outfielder Tony Gwynn, Jr., who would provide a center field backup for Bill Hall and more pinch-running potential than Rottino. The final bullpen spot is also up for grabs between three right-handers: Greg Aquino, Jose Capellan and Chris Spurling. Manager Ned Yost insisted that he has yet to make any decisions, and the team does not plan to set its roster until Sunday's fanfest at Miller Park. The Brewers open the regular season on Monday against the Dodgers. "We'll see what happens in the next couple of days," Rottino said. "Whatever decision they make, that's where I'm supposed to be. I'm not going to stress myself out over it. What good would that do?" Rottino finished the Arizona portion of Spring Training with a .250 batting average, three home runs and nine RBIs while playing in a team-high 25 games. Gwynn played in 22 games, batting .341 with three doubles and four stolen bases. "It's by far the best spring -- Major League or Minor League -- that I've ever had," the 24-year-old Gwynn said. "It usually takes me a while to get going, but I came in this year determined not to be behind. The last week has been a little rough, but all in all I feel like I've done a real good job." He would benefit from the everyday playing time he would be assured at Nashville, general manager Doug Melvin conceded. Last year was an offensive breakthrough for Gwynn, who hit .300 at Nashville and made a couple of stops in Milwaukee. "That might be the best place for him, but we're looking to win games," Melvin said. "If he can help us, then he'll be a part of the team." Gwynn was anxious for word of his fate because he worried where to settle his wife, Alyse, who is expecting the couple's first child in October. Yost said he has done his best to assuage players' worries. "We're just not there yet," Yost said. "I'm probably 80 percent. If I knew [the roster] for 100 percent certainty, I'd go ahead and [announce] it. But I don't." The roster is due by 2 p.m. CT on Sunday.
On to Texas: Most players were eager for some "real" games in the regular season. Yost was just happy to get out of Arizona. The Brewers will play a pair of games against the Rangers, on Friday in Frisco, Texas, and on Saturday at the newly re-named Rangers Ballpark at Arlington. "It's a different atmosphere than Arizona," Yost said. "We'll be in a nice stadium [in Frisco]. It will be nice on Saturday to be in a Major League stadium, playing in a Major League game. I wish we were doing it at Miller Park, but I'll take Texas." Thirty-two of the 34 players still in Major League camp made the trip. Catcher Mike Rivera was sent to Minor League camp to begin catching pitchers there, and outfielder Laynce Nix stayed back and will remain in extended Spring Training while he rehabs a strained oblique muscle. Nix was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, retroactive to March 23. The travel party included one addition. Minor Leaguer Stephen Bray was on the list to pitch Saturday night and was added to the group in case the team needs someone to suck up innings. A right-hander, Bray went 7-4 with a 2.33 ERA in 48 relief appearances and two starts between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville last season, and was particularly effective after the promotion. He posted a 1.25 ERA in 21 relief appearances with the Sounds. Bray then played in the Arizona Fall League. 'B' game? Yost and Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash were irked that, for the second time this spring, the Angels sent a team to Maryvale Baseball Park for the spring finale consisting almost exclusively of Minor Leaguers. Thursday's travel list included only one bona fide Major Leaguer -- Robb Quinlan. The Angels did the same thing last year, Ash said, when the teams played on the final Thursday of March in Tempe. The Angels began a three-game exhibition series against the Dodgers on Thursday night back in Los Angeles and sent most of the big leaguers there, along with manager Mike Scioscia and his staff. "You're supposed to stay here on Thursday," Ash said. "The only games that are sanctioned outside of Spring Training are Friday, Saturday, Sunday. They're sneaking another game in tonight in L.A. and they leave the dregs here." Ash said the Brewers would request a change in next year's spring schedule so they finish the Cactus League against a different team. "Please," Yost said. "Don't play here, period. Let's just play everybody but them. It's just not right." Parking notes: The Brewers have arranged for overflow parking at Wisconsin State Fair Park on Opening Day. If Miller Park lots reach capacity, fans may use the 84th St. exit from Interstate 94 and park in the fairground's North Lot, accessible through Gate 7. Buses, provided by Riteway Bus, will be staged near this area and will offer service to and from Miller Park before and after the game. Fans may tune to AM 1180 for up-to-the-minute information. Also, Milwaukee's Department of Public Works has installed a reversible lanes system on Canal St. that will expedite traffic into the stadium before games and away from the stadium after games. Overhead signs will control the flow of traffic. Last call: As expected, the Brewers released right-hander Grant Balfour on Thursday, then re-signed him to a Minor League contract. Balfour, who missed much of the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery, was assigned to Double-A Huntsville so he could be placed on a strict schedule. ... Third baseman Tony Graffanino was back in the starting lineup. He left Monday's game with back spasms but was back in action on Wednesday, drawing a pinch-hit walk. He went 2-for-3 Thursday. ... Right-hander Jeff Suppan is scheduled to start for the Brewers on Friday night in Frisco, where he will match up against Rangers righty Robinson Tejeda. Brian Shouse, Spurling, Elmer Dessens, Joe Thatcher, Derrick Turnbow and Bray are also scheduled to pitch.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.