© 2005 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
04/02/05 5:54 PM ET
Notes: Brewers to open with 12 pitchers
LHP Phelps survives final cut; Durrington sent to Triple-A;
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers made a last-minute decision to carry 12 pitchers into Opening Day instead of 11, meaning utility man Trent Durrington will start the season at Triple-A Nashville. As expected, the Brewers reassigned veteran pitcher Rick Helling and catcher Pat Borders to minor league camp. The final roster spot was essentially up for grabs between Durrington, a utility infielder with speed, and Tommy Phelps, a left-handed relief pitcher. "With all of the left-handed hitters with Pittsburgh and Chicago, we thought we would take the extra left-handed pitcher to go with [Jorge] De La Rosa," manager Ned Yost said. The Brewers open their 36th season with a pair of games in Pittsburgh beginning Monday, then travel to Chicago for three more games next weekend. Had the team opted to stick with 11 pitchers, an idea that was batted around during the final days of camp in Arizona, a 12th pitcher likely would have been added a week or two into the season. Still, Durrington was disappointed. "If they want me I'll be ready," said Durrington, who batted .290 in Spring Training games. "It's just one of those things. It's just disappointing. Any time you get sent down it stinks. I'm going to go down and wait for an opportunity." The Brewers' 25-man roster includes 12 pitchers, two catchers, nine infielders and four outfielders. Three non-roster invitees made the cut: Phelps, infielder Jeff Cirillo and outfielder Chris Magruder. Unfinished business: The Brewers will wait until Sunday to line up their starting pitchers behind No. 1 Ben Sheets and No. 2 Doug Davis. That means right-hander Victor Santos, the presumptive No. 3 going into what was at times a rough Spring Training, could slip on the depth chart. Santos improved his stock on Saturday when he allowed just one run in six solid innings of an exhibition win over the White Sox, and Yost confirmed Saturday that his rotation would consist of Sheets and Davis followed by some order of Santos, Chris Capuano and Gary Glover. Capuano breezed to a 1.08 ERA in a team-best 25 innings during the spring and has a good shot of moving up to No. 3. The decision is about more than semantics; the Brewers' starter for the Cubs' home opener on Friday, April 8 is still undetermined, and whoever wins the No. 3 starter's spot will get five starts in April. The No. 4 starter, meanwhile, will get only four April starts and the No. 5 man will start three games all month because of off-days. If Capuano does indeed jump up to the third spot behind Davis, the Brewers would have their two lefties back-to-back in the rotation. Yost does not see that as a problem. "I just think that they're totally different pitchers," Yost said. "Cappy focuses down and away [and throws a] fastball, changeup and a back-door slider occasionally to bust a guy in. Doug works in with the cutter and with the high fastball." Capuano pitched seven shutout innings in his final Cactus League start, and has been healthy this spring. As a rookie last season, he was limited to 17 starts by quadriceps, triceps and elbow injuries.
The elbow ailment was the most scary. Capuano underwent Tommy John surgery in 2002, and felt a twinge in that same elbow during a start at Wrigley Field on Aug. 24. He was subsequently shut down for the year.
"It would be nice to go back to Wrigley Field and erase that memory," Capuano said.
Yost said he would huddle with pitching coach Mike Maddux and make a decision by Sunday.
Brewers On Deck: Admission and parking are free for Sunday's "Brewers On Deck" at Miller Park. The event, which was snowed out in January and rescheduled, will feature autograph and photo opportunities beginning at 11 a.m. CT before the Brewers participate in an open workout at 1 p.m. The final episode of "Go Brewers!" -- the team's behind-the-scenes television program -- will air live in the Milwaukee area on CBS 58 from 2-3 p.m. CT.
Cinderella story: Racine, Wis., native Vinny Rottino was among a group of minor leaguers asked to participate in the weekend exhibitions against the White Sox. He hopes to be back at Miller Park sometime soon, next time as a big leaguer.
Rottino, now 25, suddenly appeared on the organizational radar in 2004, when he broke Prince Fielder's minor league record with 124 RBIs.
"His versatility is what is going to get him here," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "I think he's going to end up playing in the big leagues. I do. You don't knock in 124 runs in a minor league season, with only 17 homers, without being a clutch hitter. That's not just beating up on below-average pitching, that's hitting everybody."
He's the ultimate utility man, evidenced on the final day of the 2004 season when Rottino played all nine positions for Single-A Beloit. His versatility is a plus, but Rottino is happy about the organization's plans to make him the primary catcher at Double-A Huntsville this season.
"I don't want to put words in their mouths, but the No. 1 job is open," said Rottino, who played right field in Friday's win against the White Sox and doubled and scored in the eighth inning.
"I love catching," he said. "Our organization is kind of thin on catchers in the minors. So if I can do that it could be kind of a ticket here."
If he makes it, he would be the ultimate Cinderella story. Rottino was undrafted out of the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse and signed as a free agent with his hometown Brewers in 2003.
In the minors: The new minor league baseball Web site debuted this week featuring a face familiar to Brewers fans. Mark Rogers, Milwaukee's first pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, debuted what will be a bi-weekly diary. Rogers is expected to pitch for the Single-A West Virginia Power this season.
The site also features Jonathan Mayo's annual list of baseball's top 50 prospects. The Brewers are well-represented: Rickie Weeks checked in at No. 7, Fielder at No. 10, Jose Capellan at No. 18 and J.J. Hardy at No. 48.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.