3/27/2014 4:05 P.M. ET
Wang among five first-timers on Opening Day roster
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Twenty percent of the players pegged for Milwaukee's 25-man roster will line up for their first Major League Opening Day, including Rule 5 Draft pick Wei-Chung Wang, who is poised to become the first Taiwanese-born player to appear in a game for the Brewers.
The four other first-timers are infielders Jeff Bianchi and Scooter Gennett and relievers Will Smith and Tyler Thornburg.
Wang is different from the rest. He is 21 years old, speaks Mandarin and has never thrown a pitch above Rookie ball. His leap to the big leagues is believed to be the most dramatic in the history of the Rule 5 Draft; Johan Santana and Joakim Soria each appeared at the Class A level before their move to the Majors.
"I think he pitched well enough to where Doug [Melvin, Milwaukee's GM] and his crew still think that this guy has got a chance down the road to be a pitcher that will make a difference on your staff," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "It's hard for me [to project] because the guy came from Rookie ball. ... I don't know how to judge down the line and say this guy is going to be a No. 3-4 starter. I don't know how to do that. So it'll be a learning experience for all of us."
Wang will be the 11th player and eighth pitcher born in Taiwan to play in the Majors, and the first for the Brewers.
Roenicke's previous Rule 5 Draft experience came when he was an Angels coach in 2000, and that team kept a hard-throwing reliever named Derrick Turnbow who would someday become the Brewers' closer.
"The difference was he didn't throw strikes. He had a great arm, but he didn't throw strikes," Roenicke said. "So this is a little different [with Wang], and it's also way different because of the language barrier. I don't feel like I can sit down and help this guy a lot, because I can't talk to him and look him in the eye and for me to see that he's getting it. Always when you go through an interpreter, there's something that's lost. That's the part I don't like. I really feel like I'm not going to contribute to this guy and his development simply because of the language barrier.
"He's going to have to just gain [knowledge] by experience and going out there and pitching. It's going to be interesting."
Bianchi, on the other hand, is the most veteran of the bunch, with one year and 57 days of Major League service but no Opening Days.
Bianchi essentially called his spot. When he met with Roenicke in February -- the manager held similar sit-downs with every player in camp -- Bianchi remembers saying something along the lines of, "I know there's basically only one spot available, and I'm hungry for that last spot. I'm going to do everything I can to win that spot."
He won it by batting .347 in the spring.
"It was relief, thankful, humbled, a little bit of everything," said Bianchi. "I worked hard in the offseason and this spring to get to this point, and I'm not going to take anything for granted."
Gorzelanny stays in Arizona to continue rehab
PHOENIX -- While the rest of the Brewers boarded a charter flight Thursday afternoon bound for Milwaukee, left-hander Tom Gorzelanny stayed behind to continue his rehabilitation from offseason shoulder surgery.
Gorzelanny will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list. He has been throwing off a mound but still must clear a series of hurdles, including a Minor League rehabilitation assignment, before pitching in a Major League game and said the tentative schedule gets him to Milwaukee before the end of April. That plan will remain fluid based on how his arm feels.
He had surgery in December to "clean up" fraying of his rotator cuff and labrum and to remove a bone spur.
"I just have to wait a little bit longer to get there," said Gorzelanny, who is entering the second season of a two-year contract. "I'm not trying to hurry back before I'm ready. I want to get back as soon as I can, and Opening Day would have been great, but it's just not [possible]."
Even with Gorzelanny sidelined, the Brewers will begin the season with three left-handers in a seven-man bullpen.
• Roenicke had no new information to report Thursday about shortstop Jean Segura, who remained confined to taking at-bats in Minor League camp because of a sore throwing shoulder. Segura, who was to join the Brewers on their flight to Milwaukee, did play catch in the morning with coach Mike Guerrero and "threw real well," according to Roenicke. It remains to be seen whether Segura is strong enough to play in either of the Brewers' weekend exhibition games against the Royals, or whether he is ready for Monday's Opening Day game against the Braves.
• Roenicke is planning a more mix-and-match approach to his catching tandem. Last year, backup Martin Maldonado handled right-hander Wily Peralta, and regular Jonathan Lucroy generally caught everyone else.
"I think 'Maldy' will catch somewhere in the same range, the one out of five," Roenicke said, "but I think sometimes when Peralta is matched up with a left-handed pitcher and we really want 'Luc' in that lineup, we feel better about putting Luc in there. I was glad that Peralta had some good games with 'Luc' catching here, so now he's got the confidence in doing it."
• It did not exactly qualify as breaking news Thursday, but Roenicke said that second-year slugger Khris Davis would start in left field on Opening Day and Logan Schafer would be on the bench. Schafer's best chance to start could come Wednesday, a day game after a night game with a Braves right-hander (Aaron Harang) on the mound.
Roenicke has still not made public his plan for two spots in the Opening Day lineup: first base (between Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds) and second base (between Scooter Gennett and Rickie Weeks). Right-hander Julio Teheran is starting for Atlanta, and Overbay and Gennett are the left-handed batters in those platoons.