2/25/2014 5:50 P.M. ET
Herrera looks to utilize talents for roster spot
By Jose M. Romero / Special to MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Elian Herrera knows any role he plays for the Milwaukee Brewers will be as a utility player. He performed that service for the Los Angeles Dodgers for 67 games in 2012, playing all three outfield spots plus second base, third base and shortstop while providing a decent bat.
Now, as the 29-year-old from the Dominican Republic gets more familiar with his new teammates, he has to go out and make the 25-man roster for Opening Day.
It's far from a given, though the Brewers claimed Herrera off waivers from the Dodgers soon after last season. Herrera needs a very good Spring Training, as he's spent almost all of his career outside of 2012 in the Minor Leagues. The Brewers have Jeff Bianchi, who played second, third and shortstop in 100 games last season, and invited journeyman Eugenio Velez and former Kansas City infielder Irving Falu to camp this year.
Velez hasn't played in the Majors since 2011 and Bianchi batted just .237 last season. So, Herrera will get his opportunity to win a roster spot.
Herrera is happy to have a better opportunity with a new team, as the Dodgers used him as an injury replacement more than anything else.
"I think I have a chance to make the roster for Opening Day," Herrera said in Spanish. "So, I'm happy to be here. That's my goal. I have lot of confidence in what I'm doing and I'm feeling positive right now."
Herrera spent 11 seasons in the Dodgers organization and has never played at Miller Park.
"I've always said, it doesn't matter where I'm playing, I'm going to give it 100 percent," he said. "I did it for the Dodgers and now I'll do it with Milwaukee."
All four utility player candidates made their mark on Tuesday's intrasquad game. Herrera singled in a run, Bianchi walked and scored, Falu drove in a run with a single and Velez got a base hit.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said the team was happy with Bianchi's performance last season and praised Velez and Falu as well.
"It's the fit, the makeup of those five [bench] guys," Roenicke said. "If you have five, it's what specifically you need that fits in. If we have a platoon system at second base, we've got a platoon system at first base, now it becomes more difficult to fit in those last guys. Probably can only go with one [backup] outfielder, one backup catcher, that leaves you with one utility man."
That player will have to be able to play shortstop, according to Roenicke. That appears to give Bianchi an edge. It will also depend on who can provide more offense.
"I'm ready for whatever," Herrera said. "I'm prepared to work at any position they want. I understand it's a competition for a place and I'm trying to win it."
Gorzelanny satisfied with progress off surgery
PHOENIX -- Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny, who is three days into his throwing program after December shoulder surgery, on Tuesday said things are going well.
"Just kind of taking it one step at a time and not trying to do too much or push it too hard," Gorzelanny said.
Gorzelanny is throwing 70 feet as he builds strength toward bullpen sessions and ultimately, game action.
He's still shooting for being ready on Opening Day, but is taking a cautious approach. So is manager Ron Roenicke.
"If we're midway through March when he throws a game, we still feel like he's on track and as long as there's no setbacks, we're going to be close," Roenicke said. "We're going to be close with him to figure out if he's going to be ready or not."
Even if Gorzelanny feels fine physically, the Brewers will monitor his pitch location and could decide to give him some work in games somewhere in their system if location is an issue come the end of camp.
Roenicke fine with home-plate collision rule
PHOENIX -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke met with league officials on Monday to go over the use of instant replay in Major League Baseball this season, and in the process also got clarification of the home-plate collision rule, which will also take effect.
Roenicke said he feels good about the instant replay process now that he knows what it is and how it will work. Managers get one call challenge in the first six innings, then any replay decisions in the seventh, eighth and ninth are at the discretion of the umpiring crew.
"The umpires, they're on the same kind of feeling that we [managers] are. They want to get the plays right," Roenicke said.
As for the home-plate rule, Roenicke said it's not much different from what the Brewers' catchers have been working on in Spring Training.
"You've got to give the baserunner a lane to slide in, which we've always told our catchers anyway," he said. "Give them a lane to slide in, put your foot on the corner of the plate and catch the ball deep so you can make a tag. If they do it that way, there's not going to be any change."
Roenicke added that the Brewers will teach baserunners to slide so as to avoid deliberately ramming into catchers at the plate to jar the ball loose, which is now a rules violation.
Gomez goes deep during intrasquad game
PHOENIX -- The Brewers took the field at Maryvale Baseball Park for a three-inning intrasquad game on Tuesday. The purpose, manager Ron Roenicke said, was to get some young pitchers in a more relaxed atmosphere, for hitters to get game-like situations and to work on bunt defenses.
The "visiting" team won, 4-1, led by a first-inning, two-run home run from Carlos Gomez. Gomez connected off right-hander Brooks Hall. Lefty Wei-Chung Wang struck out two and walked two in his inning of work.
Non-roster invitee Mitch Haniger homered off right-hander David Goforth in the top of the third. Right-hander Kevin Shackelford worked a scoreless inning.
"The pitchers need to throw more strikes, get ahead," Roenicke said. "But this is why we do it. The offense was really good. You don't expect the offense so early [in Spring Training]."
Jose M. Romero is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.