1/28/2013 3:23 P.M. ET
Brewers face spring catching conundrum
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers are big supporters of the World Baseball Classic, but would be happier if the event did not pull away both of the team's regular catchers.
Jonathan Lucroy committed to Team USA and Martin Maldonado will play for Puerto Rico, leaving manager Ron Roenicke scrambling to figure out how he'll cover games for at least that one week in March.
"I would much rather have our catchers there catching these guys, no doubt," Roenicke said. "I think it's really important."
The good news for the Brewers is that this Spring Training is longer than most because of the Classic. Plus, there's always the chance that either the U.S. or Puerto Rico will be bounced from the tournament early, so the Brewers would get at least one of their catchers back.
The Brewers' other catchers in big league camp are all non-roster invitees: Dayton Buller, Anderson De La Rosa, Blake Lalli, Rafael Neda and Adam Weisenburger. Only Lalli has played in the Majors -- six games with the Cubs.
Who qualifies as the Brewers' third catcher?
"Now, don't ask me that question," Roenicke said with a smile. "We don't know. … I'm not worried about physically, who can catch them. But I want a guy who is going to be with us and working with these guys to get them locked in, to talk about stuff between innings and what they need to work on. If a guy wants to work on his change-up at the beginning of Spring Training to get ready for the end, I want our catchers to know that. And we're not going to have our two [regular] guys there, so it's going to be difficult."
Gamel, Narveson get medical clearance
MILWAUKEE -- Infielder Mat Gamel and left-hander Chris Narveson will be full participants at the start of Spring Training camp after gaining medical clearance Sunday from the team's top doctor.
Narveson, who had surgery in May for a torn rotator cuff and labrum, and Gamel, who suffered a torn ACL in his right knee the same day Narveson went under the knife, were examined Sunday morning by Dr. William Raasch, the team's head physician. Both were deemed "good to go," assistant general manager Gord Ash said.
Gamel also had surgery, and Ash said the Brewers will limit Gamel's running at the start of Spring Training and will ease him into the sort of "extra" work normal for a player preparing to play multiple positions. But Ash said Gamel should be able to participate in all of the regular camp drills.
The Brewers expect to use Gamel as the starting first baseman in April and May while Corey Hart recovers from knee surgery. When Hart returns, Gamel could also see action in the outfield or at third base.
Narveson, meanwhile, threw his most recent bullpen session in Arizona on Friday without issue, Ash said.
"[Manager] Ron [Roenicke] wants to be sure we're careful with him, which we're going to be, and we go slow," Ash said. "But there's no restrictions."
Narveson will compete for a spot in the starting rotation.
Only three players on the big-league roster were expected to be limited at the start: Hart, left-hander Miguel De Los Santos (shoulder) and infielder Hector Gomez (groin). The Brewers claimed De Los Santos off waivers from the Rangers in September knowing he had a shoulder issue.
"We decided we'd rather get him fixed now and get it over with instead of going into the season wondering when he's going to break down," Ash said. "He should be back by July."
Brewers still eyeing infield market
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said he was still in talks with "a couple" of infielders and hinted that shortstop Alex Gonzalez remained a possibility to return.
The Brewers are committed to young shortstop Jean Segura, who turns 23 in March, as their starter. At the moment, Jeff Bianchi is the top backup option on the 40-man roster, and the Brewers also signed former American League rookie of the year Bobby Crosby to a Minor League deal with a big league camp invite.
Gonzalez would provide more certainty. He was impressive in 24 games for the Brewers last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury that required surgery. Gonzalez will be 36 next month.
"We've talked to his guy. I'd rather not say where [it stands] at this point, with teams competing for certain guys."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said the team was also eyeing options at first base, where Corey Hart will miss the first two months after undergoing knee surgery last week. Mat Gamel is expected to start in Hart's absence, and the Brewers will give a good, long look in Spring Training to prospect Hunter Morris. Taylor Green could also play there.
"There's still the possibility that Doug is talking to some guys right now [and] we get somebody else into camp," Roenicke said.
One option is a familiar one. FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported Monday that the Brewers have talked to Lyle Overbay about a Minor League deal with a big league camp invitation. Overbay was Milwaukee's regular first baseman in 2004 and 2005 before Melvin traded him to Toronto, freeing a spot for then-prospect Prince Fielder.
Brewers won't close door to Lohse
MILWAUKEE -- The Draft compensation attached to free-agent pitcher Kyle Lohse would not deter the Brewers if his price was right, principal owner Mark Attanasio said Sunday.
Attanasio left open the possibility for more moves in the two weeks that remain before Brewers pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training, including the possibility of a late run at Lohse. He would cost dollars and a Draft pick, because his former club, the Cardinals, made a qualifying offer before Lohse declined and elected free agency.
So besides paying Lohse the big salary he and agent Scott Boras are seeking, the Brewers would have to send St. Louis their first round pick -- No. 17 overall -- a factor that has deterred some teams from making offers. It wouldn't deter the Brewers, Attanasio said.
"I think you have to look at the whole picture," Attanasio said. "We've given up picks before, and when we got CC [Sabathia] and we got Zack [Greinke], we gave up more than draft compensation -- we gave up ready-to-go young players. This season, we're mindful of the fact that if we do add some pieces, we may have to give up some young players.
"So, the Draft pick compensation hasn't been as big an item for us in looking at this as it's been for other teams. We've got the No. 17 pick. We've done some good things with that level of pick, but I'm mindful that we drafted Ryan Braun No. 5 and Prince Fielder No. 7 and Rickie Weeks No. 2."
Attanasio declined to reveal whether the Brewers were in contact with Boras about Lohse, saying instead that general manager Doug Melvin "is in the office every day … and is in touch with all the agents, all the general managers."
The Brewers are currently committed to filling their rotation with in-house candidates. Yovani Gallardo is the unquestioned No. 1 and Marco Estrada is penciled in at No. 2. That would leave Wily Peralta, Mark Rogers, Mike Fiers and Chris Narveson to compete for three spots.
Lohse would certainly be a fit after going 30-11 with a 3.11 ERA for the Cardinals over the last two seasons. But his salary would push the Brewers' payroll from its current position in the $80 million range well over $90 million.
Is there any scenario in which that would work?
"There's always a chance," Attanasio said. "Again, it's a function of size of contract, length of contract. Kyle had a phenomenal two seasons the last two seasons. We just have to see if that fits in our overall scheme."
• For the first time in 10 years, center fielder Carlos Gomez did not play winter ball in the Dominican Republic. But he prepared for his stint in the World Baseball Classic by working out with former American League MVP Manny Ramirez.
• Right-hander Yovani Gallardo is particularly excited to pitch in the Classic after missing the event in 2009, when he was coming back from knee surgery, though he said it would be strange to face Team USA's Ryan Braun or Jonathan Lucroy. Gallardo nearly faced Braun at the 2006 All-Star Futures Game, but he retired Cubs prospect Eric Patterson on an inning-ending comebacker with Braun on deck.
Gallardo planned to report to Maryvale Baseball Park before the end of this week to begin ramping up his workouts for the Classic.
• Braun scored the day's best dig. Joking about Lucroy's spot on the roster, he said, "It's amazing. I didn't even know Team USA had a bullpen catcher, so I'm really excited."