02/23/2013 6:25 PM ET
Morris gets a start as Brewers play ball
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- The A's asked to employ a designated hitter for Saturday's Cactus League opener at Maryvale Baseball Park and the Brewers happily agreed, using the extra spot to get their first looks at first base prospect Hunter Morris.
Morris, No. 5 on MLB.com's list of the top 20 Brewers prospects, is a candidate to fill first base while Corey Hart works back from knee surgery. The question is whether the 24-year-old Morris is ready to hit in the Majors, or needs more Minor League at-bats.
"You have both [views]," manager Ron Roenicke said. "That's why we need to see him." On Saturday, he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
Hart had right knee surgery Jan. 25 and is aiming to be back with the Brewers before the end of April, but the more conservative estimate has him out until late May. Besides Morris, who would have to be added to the 40-man roster, the Brewers are looking at Taylor Green, Alex Gonzalez and Bobby Crosby to fill in.
Green started at first base on Saturday and Gonzalez, who has played exclusively at shortstop over 15 Major League seasons, could make his first start at first in one of Monday's split-squad games.
Cautious course set for Narveson, Peralta
PHOENIX -- Left-hander Chris Narveson was scheduled to throw live batting practice on Saturday as the Brewers continue to progress him cautiously post-shoulder surgery. Narveson has reported feeling great in camp, but manager Ron Roenicke and pitching coach Rick Kranitz are taking no chances, especially considering the extended length of this year's camp.
The same goes for right-hander Wily Peralta, who had a bit of stiffness after his first Arizona bullpen session.
"Because of when we're starting right now, they're not behind," Roenicke said. "Peralta or 'Narvy,' whenever they throw in a game, they'll still be to their 95 pitches when we start the season."
This year's Spring Training is longer than usual because of the World Baseball Classic.
Axford set to reveal annual Oscars picks
PHOENIX -- Brewers closer John Axford's Twitter feed will be busy Sunday evening when the film buff makes his annual Academy Awards predictions. He will look to build on his previous years' successes.
"I would have to go back and look, but the number 11 is stuck in my head -- I think I was 11-for-13 the first year and 11-for-15 last year, but that was because I added a couple of extra [obscure] categories," Axford said. "I probably shouldn't have taken on Foreign Film."
Axford has predicted Best Picture and Best Director winners each of the past two years. He said he's seen most of this year's Best Picture nominees and is rooting for a surprise winner: Quentin Tarrantino's Django Unchained, his favorite film of the year.
"That's who I'd like to win, but it isn't going to be my prediction," said Axford, who would only say this about his actual prediction: "It might have some Canadian ties."
Argo? That film chronicles the rescue of Americans holed up in the Canadian Embassy in Tehran during the Iranian hostage crisis.
Axford just smiled. He wasn't telling.
"I still can't believe [director Ben Affleck] wasn't nominated for Best Director," he said.
• Much of the Brewers' lineup Saturday looked like a preview for Opening Day. Right fielder Norichika Aoki led off, followed by second baseman Rickie Weeks, left fielder Ryan Braun, third baseman Aramis Ramirez, catcher Jonathan Lucroy, center fielder Carlos Gomez, Green, shortstop Jean Segura and then Morris in what usually would be the pitcher's spot.
Lucroy looks like the leading contender to hit fifth while Hart is sidelined. Lucroy led baseball in batting average with runners in scoring position before breaking his right land last May, hitting .514 (18-for-35) in that clutch situation, including .600 (12-for-20) with runners in scoring position and two outs.
"I know there's still areas he'd like to improve on, and I think he will," Roenicke said. "He really could be one of the top offensive producers, especially at his position."
• "I look forward to it because when we start games, we're getting closer to the end. Spring Training games for a manager, it's nice that we get to see the young guys. That's probably the part I like the most. You really don't manage in Spring Training; it's more, 'Who am I going to put in after this guy comes out?' That isn't enjoyable. But seeing the young guys, that's what I like in Spring Training." -- Roenicke, on the start of Spring Training games.
• Catchers Lucroy and Martin Maldonado are expected to get all of the Cactus League starts until they depart for the World Baseball Classic, Roenicke said.
• The Brewers reported selling 87,000 tickets between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. CT on Saturday, the first day of individual sales. Opening Day (April 1 versus the Rockies) is sold out aside from a limited number of tickets that remain as part of season ticket packages, and three other games have only limited inventory remaining: Saturday, April 20 against the Cubs; Sunday, May 26 against the Pirates; and Sunday, June 23 against the Braves.