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Rain short-circuits plans: Surplus of arms unable to get in full day's work

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Anthony Witrado
February 23, 2010
— Ken Macha couldn't help but acknowledge it on the first official workout day for pitchers and catchers, mainly because the issue severely shortened that workout.

For the second consecutive day, rain halted the planned routine for the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday morning at Maryvale Baseball Complex, keeping the outing to about an hour before it wrapped up.


Half the pitchers, including all the starting candidates except Jeff Suppan, threw bullpen sessions and the other half played long toss and ran. The Brewers manager cut out fundamental drills and pitchers fielding practice.


There are five days built into the schedule for pitchers and catchers to be on the field before position players have to report as opposed to four last year, so a rainout shouldn't set anything back.


Another topic of conversation on the first day was the abundance of pitchers, 32, in camp. That could be a blessing for the Brewers, a team that needed nine different starters and 23 total pitchers last season because of injuries and ineffectiveness.


''So it behooves everybody to impress everybody they can regardless of where they start," Macha said.


That leaves the door open for maybe an unexpected pitcher, or even a catcher, to impress the brass the way third baseman Casey McGehee did last season.


''He comes in here, nobody knows him, makes his way on the team, gets zero at-bats the first six weeks and the next thing you know he's hitting fifth in the lineup behind Prince (Fielder)," Macha said. "Opportunity is there for somebody to step into that position and do that, regardless if it's a guy that has a (guaranteed) contract."


Piquing interest

There are some young new faces in this camp that Macha is curious to look at, including right-hander Amaury Rivas, who was the organization's minor-league pitcher of the year last season.


Whether in "A'' games, "B'' games or split-squad contests, Macha and pitching coach Rick Peterson will make sure to find innings for Rivas, and others, to make a mark.


''These guys play," Macha said. "We're not bringing them over to come and watch a game. They play and hopefully that's helpful.


''A guy like Rivas might come fast, who knows? I don't want him out there just throwing bullpens. Might as well stick him out there and let him be nervous."


I've got a secret


Macha has given subtle hints that young right-hander Yovani Gallardo might get his first opening day start but said he wasn't ready to commit to anyone at this early stage.


''That's so far ahead I've not even thought about that," Macha said. "My philosophy on that is we've got six weeks; anybody could get hurt or shuffled or whatever."


Suppan, who started the opener in San Francisco last season, supposedly has to prove he belongs in the rotation this spring. Gallardo, who pitched the second game against the Giants, said he would welcome the opportunity to break first out of the chute against Colorado on April 5 at Miller Park.


''I'd like to," he said. "You ask any starting pitcher, who wouldn't want to start opening day? We've still got a long way to go before that.


''I'm not going to worry about it. If I get it, I'd be very excited. Obviously, it would be my first time. We'll see."


Not borrowing trouble

Right-hander Dave Bush said he doesn't plan to spend much time in spring training figuring out who's going to fill out the starting rotation. By all appearances, Bush, Suppan and lefty Manny Parra will be battling for the final two spots.


''The players are always the last to get that information," said Bush. "My focus is on being healthy and pitching. My confidence remains that if I'm out on the mound and 100%, I'm going to be successful in whatever role it is, whatever team I'm on.


''I try to be aware enough to know what's going on but not get caught up in it. That's a fine line. I try to know enough but not so much that my mind gets jumbled up by it. If you worry about all that, it becomes overwhelming then and the pressure can get the best of me if I let it.


''I've worked at that over the years. In my five springs here, this is my third time doing this. It's not fun but part of spring is getting into preparation for the season. If you have to be in a competition to get ready, I guess that's OK."


No matter how the rotation shakes out, Bush thinks it has a chance to be a good one.


''Every spring, we're always optimistic, but I think we have reason to be," he said. "It's not unfounded optimism; it's not hoping we'll be better.


''It's a little bit of confidence that we will be better and we have the players to be better. We'll see how the spring shakes out."



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