PEORIA, Ariz. -- Brewers closer John Axford said his agent had departed Phoenix this week, having exchanged contract proposals with Milwaukee officials but not yet having struck a deal.Axford repeated Saturday morning what he's been saying all along: There's no hurry. He does not mind if talks between the Brewers and agent Dan Horwits extend into the regular season. "I don't care if it does," Axford said. "I'm open to still talking [during the regular season], for sure, and it doesn't affect me if we don't talk." Axford is in his final pre-arbitration season. He will qualify for arbitration next winter as a "Super 2" player, due a raise from the $525,000 he will earn in 2012. Axford, who took over from Trevor Hoffman as Milwaukee's closer in 2010, set a franchise record with 46 saves last season and tied Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel for the National League lead in that category. The Brewers did strike a deal on one extension this spring. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy, a potential Super 2 next winter, inked a new, five-year contract on Tuesday.
Hart looks to step forward in knee rehab
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Corey Hart planned to make another step in his rehab from knee surgery on Saturday by adding three innings at first base to his three innings in the outfield in a Triple-A game at Maryvale Baseball Park.Hart was the Brewers' only remaining question mark as of Saturday morning, four days before teams must set their 25-man rosters and six days before Milwaukee's season opener against St. Louis. Manager Ron Roenicke expects to have an idea by Sunday afternoon as to whether Hart will be in right field on Opening Day. If he needs more time to build up, the Brewers could backdate a stint on the 15-day disabled list to March 26, meaning Hart would miss at least the first four games of the regular season. Hart wants to be able to play all nine innings, every day, when he joins the Brewers. So he remains open to an assignment to the Nashville Sounds, who start their season with four games in New Orleans, April 5-8.
"After having my knee done, missing 4-5 games is pretty good," Hart said. "If I don't miss them, awesome. But it would still be great if I only had to miss 4-5 games. It's win-win."Said manager Ron Roenicke: "I guarantee you, if he goes out today and gets three hits, and tomorrow does the same thing, and he feels great, what he says to you guys may change. That's why we want to wait and see what happens." Hart stole a base Friday against Indians pitcher Kevin Slowey, who wasn't paying attention to the guy at first base coming off knee surgery. "It was the old Carlos Lee move," Hart said. "I just kind of shuffled off and took off. It was funny. He threw a passed ball [after the steal] and I scored on a sac fly. When I passed him he was like, 'Really? You're stealing a base?'" Hart will be four weeks post-op as of Tuesday.
Maysonet sent back to Minor League camp
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Brewers returned infielder Edwin Maysonet to Minor League camp on Saturday morning, meaning club officials had completed their evaluations six days before the season opener against St. Louis.Twenty-seven players remain in Major League camp. One is left-hander Juan Perez, who will get a look over the Brewers' remaining days of Spring Training but will not make the Opening Day roster. The others on the bubble are utility infielder Brooks Conrad and first baseman/outfielder Travis Ishikawa, two non-roster invitees whose fate rests with right fielder Corey Hart. Hart, working back from knee surgery, played his fourth straight Triple-A game on Saturday. If he is deemed healthy for Opening Day, then of Conrad or Ishikawa, only one would break with the Brewers. If Hart begins the season on the 15-day disabled list, both Conrad and Ishikawa would make the cut. Teams must set their rosters by 4 p.m. CT on Wednesday. Maysonet qualified as a pleasant spring surprise and inserted himself into the Opening Day discussion by batting .296 with a .387 on-base percentage and playing capably at shortstop, second and third base and in left field. In the end, the Brewers kept veteran shortstop Cesar Izturis to be the backup to starting shortstop Alex Gonzalez. "[Maysonet] played really well," manager Ron Roencike said. "Defensively, very smooth at all the positions." Maysonet will be the regular shortstop at Triple-A Nashville.
Right-hander Shaun Marcum will pitch the Brewers' spring finale on Wednesday against the D-backs and is a go for the season-opening starting rotation. He dealt with a stiff shoulder for the second straight spring, but may be ahead of where he was last year, Roenicke said. Marcum will throw 70-75 pitches on Wednesday and should be ready to push close to 90 pitches against the Cubs on April 9. Roenicke will have more flexibility with his bullpen to start this season, with four pitchers -- Marco Estrada, Manny Parra, Tim Dillard and Kameron Loe -- available to pitch more than one inning when needed. Once the starting pitchers get into their regular-season groove, the Brewers may decide to go from a seven-man bullpen to six, Roenicke said. A couple of players were fuming Saturday about a tense Brewers-Dodgers game the day before. Three players were hit by pitches -- two Dodgers and Brewers outfielder Norichika Aoki -- before Dodgers starter Chris Capuano threw a fastball behind Ryan Braun's knees, prompting a warning to benches. The Dodgers come to Miller Park from April 17-19, and the Brewers will be at Dodger Stadium from May 28-31.