SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It is becoming increasingly difficult to envision the Brewers' Opening Day roster without Brooks Conrad, the utility man fighting for a job as a non-roster invitee.Brewers manager Ron Roenicke made clear no decisions are cemented, but he conceded Conrad looked like a fit, "when you look at the needs and what we have on our bench." "Being a switch-hitter is really important," Roenicke said, "and covering three out of the four infield positions, he can go to the outfield, he can be a third catcher. It's going to be hard to figure out how he wouldn't be on our team. He's doing an awful lot for what we need." Conrad's natural position is second base, but he is also capable at third and has gotten playing time at first, where the Brewers need a backup for first-year starter Mat Gamel. Last week, Conrad worked with longtime Brewers bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel on some drills behind the plate. Conrad, 32, spent the last three seasons with the Braves. He would earn $510,000 from the Brewers in the Majors. "The last five years I've been mixing around a lot more," said Conrad, who carries four baseball gloves -- first, second and third base, and an outfielder's glove. "It's something you work on a lot and get better throughout the years. It's something that I really like to do."
Hart needs stitches after weightlifting accident
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Next year, Brewers right fielder Corey Hart might skip Spring Training altogether.Hart had another spring setback on Tuesday, though this one was merely cosmetic. Two weeks removed from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, and making terrific progress, Hart was struck in the head by a weightlifting bar during an afternoon workout and needed eight stitches. He was back at Maryvale Baseball Park on Wednesday to continue working back to full strength. Hart promised to be careful. "I'm going to start coming in around my birthday," said Hart, who turns 30 on Saturday. "Spend the first three weeks relaxing, instead of trying to get hurt again." Said manager Ron Roenicke: "He's had a couple of rough springs."
That's right: This is not the first. In 2010, Hart hit .172 and was left out of the Opening Day lineup, only to rebound with a career year. In 2011, he missed all of Spring Training after straining a rib-cage muscle.Now, Hart is rehabbing again. He underwent surgery March 6 to repair three tears of the meniscus in his right knee. He's made a speedy return, taking full batting practice for the third straight day Wednesday.
On Tuesday afternoon, Hart was working out with an elastic band attached to a metal bar, which slipped off its rack and struck him on three different spots on his head. Only one of them needed stitches.The good news was that Hart was back on the field Wednesday. He's hoping to begin playing games this weekend, but Roenicke made clear the decision belonged to head athletic trainer Dan Wright. "I'm not doing anything until the trainers tell me he's close," Roenicke said. "He hasn't been out on the field running. He still has some time." Hart was staying positive. "If I can stay away from hurting myself again, I'll be good," he said.
Marcum on track after logging first spring action
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Shaun Marcum was encouraged by a two-inning start in Minor League camp on Wednesday, and the right-hander declared he'd be ready to begin the season in Milwaukee's starting rotation.Before Wednesday, Marcum had not pitched because of tightness in his shoulder. He allowed one hit -- a homer -- but did not walk a batter and struck out two in an outing for Triple-A Nashville against the Reds' top affiliate. He threw 26 pitches, mostly fastballs. Marcum said he would start again Sunday, when the Brewers play split-squad games at home against the Dodgers and in Surprise, Ariz., against the Royals. That puts Marcum in line to start April 9 or 10 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, he said. "It's nice to get back out there," Marcum said. "It stinks when you're behind and not able to pitch and get ready for the season earlier in camp, like I wanted to. But the good thing is I'll be ready for April 10 or 9, whatever day I'm scheduled to pitch. I'll be ready to go. I'm ahead of schedule from where I was last year, so pitch count or anything like that shouldn't be a problem." Marcum had a similar interruption last spring, but he started the season on schedule and was the Brewers' best pitcher over the first two months. If his schedule plays out as planned, Marcum will have made four spring starts, including Wednesday's debut outing in the Minors. "It's another step forward," he said. The Brewers' "Plan B" for Marcum's spot in the starting rotation is Marco Estrada, who otherwise would begin the season as Milwaukee's long reliever.
Manager Ron Roenicke has not made any formal declarations, but it appears the rotation will begin with Yovani Gallardo on Opening Day against the Cardinals, followed by Zack Greinke and Randy Wolf in that three-game series at Miller Park. Marcum and Chris Narveson would then cover the first two games of the April 9-11 series in Chicago, with Gallardo coming back for the series finale.
Left-handed reliever Zach Braddock pitched a scoreless eighth inning against Arizona on Wednesday, his first outing in five days. Braddock had been bothered by a minor muscle strain at the top of his right quadriceps.
Left-hander Juan Perez played catch Wednesday for the first time since being released from the hospital last week. He'd suffered a partially collapsed lung, but reported feeling much better.
The Brewers' Major League complex will be closed Thursday for the team's final spring off-day. Lefty Manny Parra will throw up to three innings in a Minor League camp game.