03/21/07 8:34 PM ET
Notes: Catcher Closser clears waivers
Backstop expected to be starter at Triple-A Nashville
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
It was a pleasant development for the Brewers, who have high regard for a pair of catchers in camp -- Closser and Mike Rivera -- who are each out of Minor League options but are behind Johnny Estrada and Damian Miller on the depth chart. Closser is a switch-hitter whom the Brewers claimed off waivers from Colorado on Oct. 13.
"At least we know now that we have a Triple-A catcher," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "There was a timing aspect to this. We'll have to go through the same thing with Rivera at some point if he doesn't make the club. If we waited to send them both through waivers at the same time, there was a chance that we would have been short."
Closser, 27, will remain in Major League camp with the Brewers and Melvin left open the possibility that he could go back on the roster. But it likely would take an injury or two for that to happen.
In 12 Cactus League games, Closser hit .364 with one home run and seven RBIs. He spent most of last season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, hitting .298 in 70 games, and batted .196 in 32 games with the Rockies. Melvin said Closser reminds him of Blue Jays backstop Gregg Zaun.
"We like him a lot," Melvin said. "We picked him up before we got Estrada [in a November trade] and that was a little unfortunate for JD. But he's a high-energy guy.
"But we felt we needed to know what the situation was. A couple of other clubs have catchers coming available, and we wanted to know now whether we might need to go out and get somebody."
The move left the Brewers with two openings on their 40-man roster.
Overtime: Brian Shouse is scheduled to become the first Brewers reliever to work back-to-back games when he appears in a Minor League intrasquad game Thursday.
"You like to get used to that feeling now," Shouse said. "You get all of those creaks out and you see how your body responds."
Shouse worked in relief against the Padres on Wednesday and was struck at the base of his right -- non-throwing -- hand by an Adrian Gonzalez line drive. Shouse stayed in the game and said afterward that he was fine.
Other Brewers relievers will get back-to-back assignments later this week. "You try to tune their body to the regular season," manager Ned Yost said. "Their body is not used to going back-to-back, so you send them back-to-back. They get used to upping their workload."
Miller time: Miller, sidelined earlier this month by a strained calf muscle, made his first start in an "A" game Wednesday in Peoria. He went 0-for-3 and caught the first six innings.
"I don't need a whole ton of at-bats to get myself ready," Miller said. "My injury happened at a good time. I can finish the spring strong. It kind of worked out, really."
Miller caught right-hander Claudio Vargas for the first time on Wednesday. While the rest of the team enjoyed Tuesday off, Miller reported to Minor League camp to catch Jeff Suppan, another newcomer he hadn't handled yet in a game.
"We were pretty good together," Miller said of his work with Suppan. "I try to absorb as much as I can while we're working together, and he's nice to catch. He has a great idea of what he wants to do, and that makes it a lot easier on us as catchers."
Last call: Closer Francisco Cordero surrendered his first runs of the spring, allowing an eighth-inning, two-run home run on his first pitch to San Diego's Pete Laforest after a four-pitch walk to Cedric Hunter. ... Outfielder Laynce Nix (oblique) plans to take some "dry swings" on Friday and is still holding out hope that he'll play in a Spring Training game before the end of camp. ... The Padres scored their second run Wednesday after shortstop J.J. Hardy lost a pop-up in the sun. Hardy typically does not wear sunglasses in games, but that could change. "I got yelled at so I may have to wear shades now," he said. Said Yost: "He's got to learn to get comfortable in sunglasses. ... There's no excuse for that." ... Ben Sheets and his wife, Julie, welcomed their second child, Miller Bennett, on Tuesday. The couple also has a four-year-old son named Seaver. ... While Dave Bush and Shouse pitch in Minor League camp, Carlos Villanueva is scheduled to start against right-hander Byung-Hyun Kim and the Rockies at Maryvale Baseball Park on Thursday. Villanueva is scheduled to throw five innings or 75 pitches, but he is still being considered for a spot in the big league bullpen. Grant Balfour, Matt Wise and Derrick Turnbow are also scheduled to pitch for Milwaukee.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.