Macha sets up Brewers' spring rotation
Skipper says he won't name regular-season starters until March 25
PHOENIX -- Stressing that the order could change before Opening Day, Brewers manager Ken Macha set his Spring Training starting rotation on Monday and tabbed right-hander Jeff Suppan to pitch Wednesday's Cactus League opener against the A's.Suppan will be followed by Yovani Gallardo at Mesa, Ariz., against the Cubs on Thursday. Manny Parra, the lone left-hander in the group, is slated for Friday against the A's, Braden Looper will pitch Saturday against the Angels and Dave Bush is set to debut on Sunday against the Giants.
Macha said he will not name an Opening Day starter or set the regular-season rotation until March 25, when the Brewers return from their final Spring Training off-day, though he's already said that it probably will not be Gallardo because of his relative inexperience. On Monday, the pitchers were trying to decipher the rest of the skipper's plans."One of the guys already had it figured out," Macha said. Here's one guess: Macha could start the season with the same order if all five starters take one extra day of rest before camp breaks. That would leave Suppan lined up for April 7 in San Francisco, marking his fourth career Opening Day assignment and his first for the Brewers. Under that scenario, Gallardo and Parra would pitch the other two games against the Giants and newcomer Looper would work the April 10 home opener against the Cubs. One more guess: Macha could be so terribly impressed by Gallardo during the spring that he changes his mind about letting a 23-year-old -- Gallardo turns 23 on Friday -- work Opening Day, after all. If that's Macha's decision, he would not have to tweak the rotation at all, because Gallardo would follow an every-fifth-day schedule until April 7. Under that plan, Parra would get the home opener. For now, the pitchers will have to keep guessing. They did get a preview of Macha's regular-season plans for them during their sit-down with him on Monday morning. "I tried to give them a brief philosophy on how I treat the starters, or how I try to, anyhow," Macha said. "If they give me six innings and they've got the lead, they're not going to lose that game. We're going to turn it over to the bullpen. "And if they've pitched well for six innings and they're in the seventh inning and they're one run behind, I'm going to give them an opportunity to get out of that seventh inning so we can hit one more time and hopefully take the lead. I want those starters to have an attitude that they're out there to win every time." Macha, mindful that Spring Training can get "mundane" before the games begin, held a very short workout on Monday that had players showered and headed for the exits before noon local time. They will have a longer work day on Tuesday, when Macha holds an intrasquad game at 12:30 p.m. MT that might not go more than four or five innings, enough to give the hitters one at-bat apiece. Pitchers scheduled to throw about 20 pitches each include Looper, Mark DiFelice, Sam Narron and Omar Aguilar for one team and Chase Wright, Tim Dillard, Chris Narveson and R.J. Swindle for the other. "But today, they're going to be in and out in a hurry so they can go play golf or something," Macha said Monday morning. "This is a bit of a 'dead' time."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.