MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke can't wait to get a firsthand look this spring at Mike Fiers, the right-hander with a deceptive delivery who does not wow the scouts but put up video game numbers last season in the Minor Leagues.Following a midseason promotion to Triple-A Nashville, Fiers went 8-0 with a 1.11 ERA, 69 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings and a .174 opponents' average, numbers Roenicke called "ridiculous." Fiers pitched only briefly with the Brewers, making two scoreless appearances in relief. That means Roenicke will get his first extended look at Fiers in Cactus League games, which begin Sunday with a Brewers-Giants matchup at Maryvale Baseball Park. "I saw him in spring last [year], and I remember the first thing is that I loved his curveball," Roenicke said. "But the deception was hard for me, because I didn't get to see him much. ... I know he locates the ball well, has a good changeup. But there is something there with the deception that I think you need to see him to understand what it is." Roenicke compared Fiers' over-the-top delivery to Josh Collmenter, the D-backs right-hander who gave the Brewers so much trouble last season.
Marcum nursing tender throwing shoulder
PHOENIX -- Brewers right-hander Shaun Marcum will back off his throwing program after developing some tenderness in his shoulder for the second straight spring, manager Ron Roenicke said Thursday.Roenicke downplayed the news, saying the Brewers already had Marcum on a conservative program this spring after he threw a career-high 210 innings in 2011, including the postseason, two years removed from Tommy John elbow surgery. Marcum and Yovani Gallardo came into camp scheduled for just six Spring Training starts beginning around March 10, Roenicke said. Marcum also had a shoulder issue last spring.
"He says he has it every spring," Roenicke said.Marcum's shoulder was more inflamed last year, when he missed a Cactus League start but was able to start the regular season on time and was the Brewers' most consistent starting pitcher for much of the first half. But he sagged down the stretch, allowing 50 hits and 34 earned runs in his final 41 innings, covering five September starts and three more in the postseason. "We're not that concerned about it, but we talked about it and we didn't think either one of those guys [Marcum or Gallardo] needed as many innings as some of the other starters," Roenicke said.
Marcum, 30, is a free agent at season's end and was pleased with the cautious plan.
"We don't need throw 20 innings in Spring Training," he said. "That's pointless. Spring Training is so long for everybody, by the end of it you're wasting pitches and wasting time."
Brewers come out in favor of expanded playoffs
PHOENIX -- If any Brewer were going to speak out in support of Major League Baseball's proposal to expand the playoff system, it was going to be Carlos Gomez.According to reports, MLB and the MLB Players Association on Thursday were putting the finishing touches on a plan to add one additional Wild Card team in each league. The three division winners in each league would await the survivor of the one-game Wild Card playoff, establishing the Division Series field. The subsequent DS, League Championship Series and World Series formats would remain the same. Gomez was uniquely qualified to discuss the issue because he's already appeared in two play-in games, both with the Twins. In 2008, Minnesota dropped a 1-0 game -- No. 163 -- at the White Sox, and a year later they beat the Tigers at home, 6-5 in 12 innings, with Gomez scoring the winning run from second base on Alexi Casilla's one-out single. "I think [the expanded system] is a good idea, because if those two teams are in position to play a game like that, it means they deserve to be in the playoffs," Gomez said. "You have to play great baseball all year long to get in that position." MLB officials said during the November General Managers Meetings that they wanted the expanded playoff system in place for 2012, but it required negotiations with the MLBPA because of the scheduling issues involved. The regular season ends this year on Wednesday, Oct. 3, leaving only two days for travel, weather problems, plus season-ending tiebreakers for division titles and Wild Card berths and the Wild Card play-in games prior to the start of playoffs on Saturday, Oct. 6. It could make for some interesting travel, depending on the teams involved. But left-hander Chris Narveson, the Brewers' union representative, said it was an easy call to support the new plan. "You look at the way it finished last year, it was so exciting," Narveson said. "This is only going to drive more competition. And [the travel] doesn't bother us because we're in the Central." Said Gomez: "When you have the chance to make the playoffs, and opportunity you might have never had in your life, I don't care how far you have to go." Until last year, Gomez's scamper home in '09 marked his greatest moment in baseball. Then he enjoyed a nearly identical celebration in the win-or-go-home Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the D-backs, when Gomez singled in the 10th inning, stole second base and scored the winning run on Nyjer Morgan's single up the middle, propelling the Brewers to their first LCS in 29 years. Gomez has photos of both of his winning runs and plans to hang them in the trophy room of a home he's building in the Dominican Republic. "Those things, I'm going to remember them for the rest of my life," he said. "I'm pretty lucky."
Brewers taking applications for annual 5K
PHOENIX -- The Brewers began taking applications Thursday for the 14th annual 5K Famous Racing Sausages Run/Walk, to be held July 28 as a fundraiser for the club's community foundation.The sign-up form is available at Brewers.com/5krunwalk. The Brewers expect the event to sell out quickly. The race begins in hour earlier this year -- at 8 a.m. CT for runners and 8:30 a.m. CT for walkers. Per tradition, the racing sausages will run the course, which winds around and through Miller Park, giving fans the chance to run the warning track. Brewers first base coach Ed Sedar is this year's celebrity starter. Brewers Community Foundation included an additional fundraising component for the second straight year, with prizes for the top totals. Visit brewers.com/5kfundraising for official rules.
Roenicke said reliever Brandon Kintzler threw an "outstanding" bullpen session on Wednesday. The right-hander had a screw surgically inserted to his right elbow last season to repair a fracture, and is a candidate for the Brewers' Opening Day bullpen. He will throw another bullpen session scheduled Saturday and then will progress to live batting practice. ... Left-hander Zach Braddock, who was sick earlier in the week, threw a bullpen on Thursday.