03/20/2013 8:23 PM ET
Brewers a complete team with Maldonado's return
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With Martin Maldonado's return from the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday morning, the Brewers had their catching tandem together for the first time in nearly three weeks.
Maldonado's Team Puerto Rico fell to the Dominican Republic in the Classic final Tuesday night, and by 8 a.m. Arizona time on Wednesday, Maldonado was already wheels down in Phoenix. He was the Brewers' three-hole hitter against the Giants a few hours later.
The team's other catcher, Jonathan Lucroy, returned Sunday after Puerto Rico bounced Team USA from the tournament.
"We've got the whole team back," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.
Because they were backups in the Classic (Lucroy to U.S. catcher Joe Mauer and Maldonado to Puerto Rico's Yadier Molina), the Brewers will feature their regular catchers extensively in the remaining games of Spring Training. Lucroy already piled up at-bats in a Minor League game this week, and Maldonado could head over for a similar exercise.
They will also reacquaint themselves with Brewers pitchers.
"They're a huge part of what we do," Roenicke said. "We've got to cram some innings in there for them."
Maldonado had only nine at-bats in the Classic, going hitless with seven strikeouts. Before the tournament, he was 1-for-12 with five strikeouts in Cactus League games.
But the tournament experience was unforgettable, he said.
"It was one of the best experiences as a ballplayer you can have," Maldonado said. "It was way different than the big leagues. You can have fun more, if somebody goes out there and scores a run, you go out there and [celebrate]. It was unbelievable."
The highlights, Maldonado said, were Puerto Rico's win over Venezuela in the opening round, and the win over two-time defending tournament champion Japan to reach the final. After Maldonado returned Wednesday, outfielder Norichika Aoki, part of Japan's '09 Classic team, stopped by to deliver a piece of his mind.
"That was the team to beat," Maldonado said with a smile.
Narveson takes biggest step in return from surgery
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Just how sharp was Brewers left-hander Chris Narveson on Wednesday? He worked six innings against the Giants, yet fell far short of his allotment of pitches.
So Narveson made 15 more throws in the bullpen, supplementing his 62-pitch, one-hit, six-inning gem at Scottsdale Stadium in a game that ended after 10 innings in a scoreless tie.
"It was a good step in the right direction for me," Narveson said.
Narveson has taken many steps in the right direction this spring. He had surgery last May for a torn labrum and rotator cuff and missed the rest of the season, but he is healthy again and lined up to begin 2013 as the Brewers' No. 4 starter.
Wednesday was his best step yet. Narveson retired the first 14 hitters he faced before right fielder Francisco Peguero hit a low changeup to left field, and that marked San Francisco's only baserunner in Narveson's six innings. He struck out four and dueled with Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong, who struck out seven in six innings.
"Just like Wily [Peralta] yesterday, they're huge confidence-boosters when you're getting close to the season and you know you need to start up," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.
Narveson credited his batterymate. Catcher Martin Maldonado returned to Phoenix earlier in the day after playing for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.
"It was nice to have Maldy [catcher Martin Maldonado] back there, just because he knows your stuff," Narveson said. "He's somebody you feel comfortable with because he knows you, you know him. He calls a pitch and there's not much second-guessing, because you know he knows you can execute it. Overall, it was a good day."
Brewers acquire Minor Leaguer in swap with A's
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Brewers traded Minor League reliever Darren Byrd to the A's on Wednesday for third baseman Stephen Parker, a 25-year-old left-handed hitter who will head to Triple-A Nashville.
Parker was Oakland's fifth-round Draft pick in 2009 out of BYU, and has batted .277 with 43 home runs and 262 RBIs in four professional seasons. His best year was 2010 in the hitter-friendly Class A California League, where Parker hit .296 with 21 home runs and 98 RBIs.
Last season, Parker batted .256 with seven home runs and 47 RBIs in 99 games with Triple-A Sacramento. The Brewers had an opening at Nashville after veteran infielder Bobby Crosby elected free agency on Monday.
Byrd, 26, is a right-hander who has pitched exclusively in relief at Double-A Huntsville in the past two seasons. He briefly pitched in Milwaukee's big league camp before the team returned him to the Minors on March 7.
Roenicke close to setting Brewers' lineup
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said he was close to finalizing his regular batting order, with only two spots still undecided.
Right fielder Norichika Aoki will hit leadoff, followed by second baseman Rickie Weeks, left fielder Ryan Braun, third baseman Aramis Ramirez, catcher Jonathan Lucroy and first baseman Alex Gonzalez. Roenicke is still mulling whether to bat center fielder Carlos Gomez seventh and shortstop Jean Segura eighth, or the other way around.
"Usually you want an on-base guy hitting in front of the pitcher, because you want the pitcher to come up and the lineup to roll over," said Roenicke, conceding that neither Gomez nor Segura exactly fit that profile. "It's an important part of the lineup, and seventh is important if you've got pretty good five- and six-hitters. He's going to have an opportunity to drive in some runs."
Asked whether the free-swinging Segura could develop into a more patient hitter as he ages, Roenicke said, "I think he'll get better at it, [but] he's probably never going to be a patient, on-base guy. He's going to have to hit. His batting average is going to have to carry his on-base percentage."
That batting order will probably be re-examined when first baseman Corey Hart is ready to return from knee surgery. He served as the Brewers' five-hole hitter for much of last season.
• In another transaction on Wednesday, the Brewers moved first baseman Mat Gamel to the 60-day disabled list. He will miss a second straight season after re-tearing the ACL in his right knee and undergoing another surgery. The move created an opening on Milwaukee's previously full 40-man roster.
• Right-hander Hiram Burgos cemented his place as a Brewers pitching prospect with his strong showing in the World Baseball Classic, Roenicke said. Including his 4 2/3-inning, one-run performance in Tuesday's final, Burgos only allowed one run in 13 Classic innings, and his 12 strikeouts tied for third among all tournament participants. Roenicke said he considered Burgos one of the top three options should something happen to a member of the team's Major League starting rotation.
The Brewers have already optioned Burgos to Triple-A, but club officials would still like to see him in a Cactus League "A" game or two. New rules allow teams to use players in Spring Training games who were previously optioned.
• Roenicke is letting players sleep in a bit on Thursday. They won't report to Maryvale Baseball Park until 10 a.m. MST, will take optional batting practice in the cages at 11 a.m. before a 1 p.m. game at Glendale, Ariz. against the White Sox.