3/21/2014 1:48 P.M. ET
Hand out: Righty returned to Minors camp
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Brewers' bullpen picture gained further focus Friday when right-hander Donovan Hand was returned to Minor League camp, leaving 34 pitchers in big league camp, including 10 bullpen candidates.
Four can be characterized as locks (closer Jim Henderson, right-handers Francisco Rodriguez and Brandon Kintzler and left-hander Will Smith) and one will begin the season on the disabled list (Tom Gorzelanny). So three spots remain for five others: Zach Duke, Alfredo Figaro, Tyler Thornburg, Wei-Chung Wang and Rob Wooten.
Wang is a Rule 5 Draft pick whom the Brewers would like to keep if possible. Thornburg is on the bubble between the big league bullpen and Triple-A Nashville's starting rotation. Duke is the only non-roster invitee in that mix.
The Brewers' thinking will become clearer yet by Wednesday, which is the deadline for teams to inform those whose Major League contract expired last fall and signed a Minor League contract for 2014 whether they will make the Opening Day roster. If the player does not make the Major League team, the team must either release the player or pay a $100,000 bonus to send him to the Minors. A player who accepts the assignment -- which Duke indicated he would do -- gets a June 1 opt-out added to his contract..
Duke endured a similarly tense final week of Spring Training in 2012, when he was battling for a job with the Astros.
"That didn't work out. I wound up getting released with three or four days left in camp," he said. "Rosters were already set for the majority of other teams, and I was jobless. The difference is I've performed much better this spring. I feel like I've definitely given them something to think about, and regardless of whether I make the team or not [coming out of camp], I feel I've proven I can help the team at some point."
Duke was still a starting pitcher then, but he has since found a new niche as a left-handed reliever. Duke finished last season with the Reds, posting a 0.84 ERA in 14 appearances, and has allowed four earned runs in 8 2/3 innings this spring. Three of those runs scored in one inning against Arizona on March 16.
Duke is from Texas, but his wife, Kristin, is from southern Indiana, so they split the difference and bought a house in Nashville over the winter. That just so happens to be home to the Brewers' Triple-A team.
"Obviously, I'd rather not be there, but it's an OK situation," Duke said. "And I have the out on June 1, so that's always an option. The main thing is I wanted to come in and prove I could get guys out, and I feel I have done that."
Brewers' Segura sits with sore shoulder
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Brewers shortstop Jean Segura wanted more at-bats in the waning days of Spring Training to wake his quiet bat, but a sore throwing shoulder is getting in the way.
The issue is minor, according to manager Ron Roenicke, but was enough to prevent Segura from playing the field against the Rangers on Friday afternoon. He still traveled with the team to Surprise Stadium and was available to pinch hit.
"It's just normal [soreness]," Roenicke said. "A lot of guys go through it for two or three days, and then hopefully it's back to normal."
Segura entered the day batting .268 (11-for-41) with nine singles, a double and a triple. His modest start is not surprising considering Segura skipped winter ball for the first time in years, ordered by the Brewers to rest after a whirlwind stretch from the start of 2012 through the Dominican Winter League season through his first full Major League season in '13.
Segura was a National League All-Star thanks to a sensational first half in which he hit .325 with 29 extra-base hits, including 11 home runs. But he faded after the break, hitting .231 with 12 extra-base hits, including only one home run.
"He asked me to play some more, maybe because he felt he needed to get in more ballgames and get that rhythm back and get the eye at the plate," Roenicke said. "So I tried to do that, and then he gets a little sore in the shoulder. So there's tradeoffs there.
"But in the long run, it should really be good for him. He should definitely be fresher longer. I think once he gets into his rhythm and everything starts falling into place, the confidence will be there. The mental [grind] can wear you down. Last year, I don't think it was just the physical, I think it was also the mental [aspect of his] first year in the big leagues."
Brewers release former first-rounder Arnett
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Brewers on Friday cut ties with former first-round Draft pick Eric Arnett, a right-handed pitcher who came off the board one spot after the Angels selected Mike Trout but never advanced past the Class A level.
Brewers officials have suggested in the ensuing years that they were planning to take Trout had he slipped one more spot, but they instead spent the 26th overall pick on Arnett, a 6-foot-5 power pitcher from Indiana University. He could not maintain his velocity in the professional ranks, and went 8-20 with a 5.18 ERA in 96 appearances, 40 starts, over five seasons.
In 2012, Arnett was moved to relief and had some success. But he underwent surgery in February 2013 for a torn ACL in his right knee and was limited to 10 games last season.
"Simply put," assistant GM Gord Ash said in a text, "the organizational depth of pitching has improved and Eric has not gotten to the next level and has been surpassed. We were prepared to continue working with him but he chose to move on."
The Brewers also on Friday announced the retirement of right-hander Andre Lamontagne, Milwaukee's 11th-round pick in the same 2009 First-Year Player Draft. Lamontagne was considered a Top 20 Brewers prospect after logging a 3.01 ERA for three Brewers affiliates in 2010, but he missed all of 2011 with a shoulder injury that led to surgery in 2012.
• Closer Jim Henderson, who has not been particularly sharp this spring, pitched two innings in a Minor League game earlier this week and is expected to return to "A game" action on Saturday against the Angels.
• After the Brewers committed five errors on the infield in Friday's 7-5 loss to the Rangers, a reporter suggested to Roenicke that the defense was "a little rough." Roenicke barely cracked a smile.
"Yeah, it was rough. Good way to put it," said Roenicke, who refused to chalk up the miscues to the hard Arizona dirt. "We just didn't play well. You're going to have games like this, and this is what we're trying to stay away from. I don't know how many we've had, but we've had some bad defensive games. That's why we work so hard on fundamentals and turning two and all those little things. We made [starter Yovani Gallardo] throw a lot more pitches."