PHOENIX -- At this point in the spring, feeling healthy was good enough for the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo. The fact that he held the Cubs to no earned runs over five-plus innings Friday was a bonus.
"I think it was [my best outing]," Gallardo said. "Getting into the sixth for the first time, it felt a little different. Now, it's 'Go.' The next one will probably be 90 pitches or so, close to 100, and that's where you want to be at late in the spring, feeling good for that first [regular season] start."
Gallardo will pitch once more in Spring Training -- his turn comes March 26, an off-day for the team, so he may have to work in Minor League camp. He is then lined up to pitch his fourth consecutive Opening Day, this year against the Rockies on April 1 at Miller Park.
The 27-year-old is taking a circuitous route to this particular season, having missed one Brewers start with a minor groin strain before working for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.
That strange schedule could explain why Gallardo is still searching for his rhythm.
"He 'lost it' for a couple of at-bats, but pretty good overall," manager Ron Roenicke said. "Just, sometimes he gets out of rhythm and you see those three or four [pitches] in a row high. It's just unusual to see it from Yo. Two outings ago he was real good, so he's still OK."
Said Gallardo: "It was a little bit different for me this year. But I'm right where I need to be as far as pitch count and starts and things like that."
Roenicke pleased with Gonzalez's scoreless eighth
PHOENIX -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was pleased to see the Michael Gonzalez on Friday that he'd heard about all winter.
Gonzalez, one of the Brewers' key bullpen acquisitions, worked around some bad luck in the eighth inning to deliver a scoreless inning against the Cubs that Roenicke viewed as the veteran's best inning yet. Roenicke had been somewhat concerned about Gonzalez's velocity this spring.
"Better," Roenicke said. "I thought the ball came out a lot better. He threw some good sliders, threw some nice changeups. So, I was encouraged by his outing."
Gonzalez was in trouble after the Cubs' Scott Hairston hit an infield single to shortstop, where Yadiel Rivera made a clean play and threw a one-hopper to first base, where Blake Lalli could not hold on. After a Brett Lillibridge strikeout, Starlin Castro dropped a single into a perfect spot in center field, right between three Brewers defenders.
Gonzalez recovered by striking out Anthony Rizzo -- a key moment, considering he will be called upon to face tough left-handed hitters during the season -- and ended the inning by getting Alfonso Soriano to pop out.
Gallardo faces off against good friend Villanueva
PHOENIX -- Carlos Villanueva doesn't believe in fraternization and wanted to avoid seeing his former Brewers teammates until he took the mound on Friday. But Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo did a sneak attack.
"Someone mentioned to me [that he doesn't like to talk on the field]," Gallardo said. "I was like, 'Oh, I have to talk to him on purpose now and see what he does.' We said hello before the game. He was a good friend of mine, and he still is. It's good to see him doing well."
Gallardo started by sending his former teammate text messages around 7 a.m. MST Friday.
Villanueva left Mesa before the Cubs' team bus, and was hoping to avoid seeing anyone from the Brewers. But when he got to Maryvale Baseball Park, there was Gallardo, waiting for him. The two hugged.
"Of course, he's warming up right there," Villanueva said of Gallardo. "I couldn't just push him away. Pitchers, I'm OK with."
Villanueva and Gallardo were together on the Brewers from 2007-10, and good friends.
"Me and Yo, we were tight when I was there," Villanueva said. "There was a lot of trash talking back and forth for the last couple days. I have a lot of friends on that team, but when it comes down to business, it's business, and they know it.
"We'll be facing them a lot during the season and sometimes it's a good thing I know a little bit about them because that way I can maybe use some of that against them, but hopefully those two years I was away [playing for the Blue Jays], they forgot a little bit."
Villanueva threw six scoreless innings Friday, while Gallardo gave up one unearned run over 5 1/3 innings. Gallardo did offer a scouting report on Villanueva.
"He looked pretty good to me," Gallardo said. "He's got good stuff. Even when he was here, he's got four plus pitches, commands the ball very well, and any time you have the off-speed like he does, you're one pitch away from getting out of a tough inning."
Villanueva's Cubs got the upper hand on Friday, rallying to beat the Brewers, 4-1. They'll meet again April 8-10 in the Cubs' first regular season series at Wrigley Field.
Murphy exercises patience as roster takes shape
PHOENIX -- Donnie Murphy is a non-roster invitee fighting for a spot with the Brewers who figures the next eight days will be more stressful for his wife than for himself. Paige Murphy cares for the couple's 2-year-old son, Liam, and will pack next week for a pair of exhibition games at Miller Park, potentially unsure whether the family will stay in Milwaukee for Opening Day, or head to Triple-A Nashville.
"The burden is on her because it's going to be a last-second kind of thing," Donnie Murphy said. "When things aren't guaranteed, it's tough. But at the same time, when you look at it that way, it's going to make things more difficult. You're not the one making the decision, so you just have to do what you can do, and see what happens."
Murphy is aiming for a job as a utility man and has appeared this spring at second base, third base and shortstop.
The Murphys have been in this position before. In 2010, Donnie was coming off a knee injury and had a strong Spring Training, but was beat out by Brian Barden. The following season, Murphy similarly had to win a job, and this time was successful.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke knows the feeling. Asked how many times he entered the final week of Spring Training unsure of his roster status, Roenicke replied, "Every year."
"It's not a comfortable feeling," Roenicke said. "Any time you're unsure of things and you're trying to impress people to try to make a team, it's uncomfortable."
Has Murphy been impressing?
"He's done a nice job for us defensively," Roenicke said. "I know he'd like to swing the bat batter, and we feel like we will."
Murphy had his best game of the spring on Thursday, when he doubled and homered in a loss to the White Sox. He entered Friday's start against the Cubs batting .237 with four extra-base hits in 38 at-bats.
"Obviously, this is not exactly the way I wanted to go about it, but that's how Spring Training works sometimes," Murphy said. "Defensively, I think I've done well. I'm starting to feel much better hitting now, so that's always a good thing going into the season. That's what you want, even if the results aren't there."
His Opening Day destination remains up in the air, though Murphy's chances improve every day that Jeff Bianchi and Taylor Green remain sidelined by hip injuries.
"If I'm in Milwaukee, awesome," Murphy said. "If it's Nashville, that's just going to make me work harder."
• The Brewers optioned right-hander Josh Stinson to Triple-A Nashville and returned catcher Dayton Buller to Minor League camp after Friday's loss to the Cubs. The moves left 34 players in big league camp.
• Center fielder Carlos Gomez, who exited Thursday's game with lower back tightness, was out of the lineup Friday but Roenicke reiterated that the issue was minor. Gomez would play were this the regular season, Roenicke said.
• The Brewers have "backed off" infielder Bianchi's baseball activities because he continues to suffer from a hip injury, Roenicke said. The news was better for another infielder with a sore hip, Green, who was feeling better Friday. It will be a few days before the Brewers know when Green will be able to play.
Asked whether either player was a candidate for the Opening Day disabled list, Roenicke said, "I would say that you have to say it's possible, yes. Bianchi, because of the length of time he's been out."
• The Brewers honored the Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on the field Friday for winning last year's Midwest League title. Players from that team, including Mitch Haniger (No. 11 on MLB.com's list of the top Brewers prospects) and Drew Gagnon (No. 14), received their championship rings.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.