02/27/2013 10:07 PM ET
Gonzalez impressing as first baseman
By Cash Kruth / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- It certainly is not true that just anybody can play first base. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is adamant when it comes to that.
"First base, to me, is way more important than people think," Roenicke said. "They handle the ball more than any player out there besides the pitcher and catcher. You save a lot of runs if you're good there. And you can lose a lot of runs if you don't pick up your infielders."
It is understandable why Brewers fans might be starting to think first base is easy. Corey Hart transitioned there seamlessly last year, and Alex Gonzalez is on a similar track this spring as the Brewers search for a replacement for Hart (knee) and Mat Gamel (anterior cruciate ligament).
Only a handful of games into the Cactus League season, Roenicke already is impressed with the veteran's handling of first base.
"There's some guys that … when you move them to a different position, it doesn't look like a different position," Roenicke said. "Alex is one of those guys."
Gonzalez, a natural shortstop who has not appeared elsewhere in a Major League game, started at short Wednesday in Milwaukee's 3-2 loss to the Royals at Surprise Stadium. That opened first base for non-roster invitee Blake Lalli, who is in camp as a catcher but has actually appeared in more Minor League games at first base (340) than behind the dish (126).
Because of Lalli's defensive experience at first base -- and that of Hunter Morris, who is also expected to get a chance to compete for the first-base job -- Roenicke said he would try to give Gonzalez as many repetitions at first base as he can, with the others getting time at first and as designated hitter to get in their at-bats.
"Alex, he's going to be out of position sometimes -- you have to be [while switching positions]," Roenicke said. "But the stuff that mostly you see in the ground balls to him, the turning double plays, scooping balls out of the dirt, those things he's going to be great at."
Badenhop solid in spring debut
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Brewers got their first look at one of their new bullpen arms Wednesday, when Burke Badenhop made his first Spring Training appearance in Milwaukee's 3-2 loss to the Royals at Surprise Stadium.
Badenhop's debut was solid, as he struck out two and allowed one hit in the fourth inning. Numbers aside, Badenhop said earlier in the day that he was excited to take the mound and finally pitch in front of his new teammates.
"They've never been out on the field when I'm on the mound out there and to see what I bring -- the coaching staff, as well," Badenhop said of the transition to the new club. "Things are going pretty good, but once I start getting out there and getting some outs, I'm sure I'll feel like more a part of the team."
Badenhop, who was acquired last December from the Rays, is the first of the trio of new Brewers relievers -- along with left-handers Michael Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny -- to make his Spring Training debut. Manager Ron Roenicke said Gonzalez and Gorzelanny -- along with Minor League free agent Kelvim Escobar -- threw well in bullpen sessions Tuesday and would throw another in a couple of days, or possibly see game action.
Badenhop had a 3.03 ERA in 66 appearances last season for Tampa Bay, striking out 42 and walking only 12 in 62 1/3 innings. Roenicke likened the 30-year-old to former Brewers reliever Kameron Loe as a right-hander who can work multiple innings or come out of the 'pen for one or two batters.
• Mat Gamel (anterior cruciate ligament) received a second opinion on his injury that matched the original diagnosis. No surgery date has been set as Gamel still is deciding who will perform the surgery and where.
• Logan Schafer, the club's No. 12 prospect, according to MLB.com, started in left field Wednesday and was 3-for-3. He is batting .455 (5-for-11) this spring.
• Not only does non-roster invitee catcher Blake Lalli have plenty of experience at first base, but he has also spent a surprising amount of time on the mound. Lalli has pitched 18 times in his seven-year Minor League career, sporting a 3.21 ERA over 14 innings, and was the winning pitcher in a 2008 game with the Cubs' Double-A affiliate.
• Happy birthday to right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who turned 27 Wednesday.