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Roenicke taps Gallardo for opener

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Tom Haudricourt/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
March 29, 2012
— Brewers manager Ron Roenicke made official Wednesday what had been evident for some time.

Right-hander Yovani Gallardo will be the team's starting pitcher on opening day, April 6, against St. Louis at Miller Park. It will be Gallardo's third consecutive opening-day assignment.


Beyond naming Gallardo to pitch Game 1, Roenicke announced the alignment of the rest of his rotation: Zack Greinke, Randy Wolf, Shaun Marcum and Chris Narveson.


The one caveat in that announced rotation is how Marcum does between now and the end of camp after suffering shoulder inflammation a few weeks back.


To protect themselves with a possible backdating of a disabled list move, the Brewers are pitching Marcum in a minor-league game Friday.


Should Marcum have an issue, the Brewers could backdate his DL time and he'd miss just one regular-season start. Otherwise, he'll pitch in the last exhibition game Wednesday against Arizona at Chase Field.


"We all think he's going to be ready to pitch his first game, but why take the chance?" said Roenicke. "I don't want to push him. So why take the chance that maybe he's not quite ready?


"Maybe it's better for him to skip one start and then pick it up in Atlanta. It doesn't make sense to push him to a spot where maybe he's not comfortable. We will make a decision after this next start.


"So his last one, before we start, is either going to be at Chase Field or we'll have to simulate a game for him with the Double-A team."


Roenicke said Marcum had a very good bullpen session Tuesday, so the minor-league assignment on Friday is merely to assure having no regrets should something crop up.


"It was a plus, what happened in the bullpen," said Roenicke. "He feels great. He threw more pitches than he normally does, which tells me that he's feeling good enough that he wants to push it a little in his next outing.


"He wants to make sure he's ready with that one, and the one at Chase, and then ready for the season."


Roenicke explained his decision to again open with Gallardo instead of Greinke, who would be the No. 1 starter on many clubs.


"You go by what happened the season before," said Roenicke. " 'Yo' opened up for us last year, had a great year (17-10, 3.52 ERA, 207 strikeouts) and you'd like him to open up again.


"It's really nice having Greinke going second. He's been unbelievable (this spring). We're in the rare situation where we really have two No. 1 guys. And our Nos. 3, 4 and 5 guys aren't too bad, either."


Roenicke always wants his players to know his reasons for decisions, so he spoke with Greinke about opening with Gallardo.


"I wanted to make sure that he knew what we were thinking," said Roenicke. "He would love to start opening day, but he's really a good team player. He understands the reasoning for doing things. He's very compliant with what we ask him to do."


Greinke said he had no issue with the decision to start Gallardo first.


"'Yo' has pitched some big games; he's the home (grown) guy," said Greinke. "Last year, he did a good job and kind of carried the staff a little bit. He seemed to be our best pitcher for the whole year, in my opinion.


"And he's been here the longest, and as of right now, he's still going to be here the longest. I think it makes a lot of sense. I didn't earn anything last season to be able to take over."


Hart starts swinging


Corey Hart saw his first action since undergoing minor knee surgery early in camp when he was sent over to a minor-league game to get four at-bats Wednesday. He did not play in the field.


"It'll be nice to get out there and get some adrenaline going," Hart said earlier in the day. "We'll see if the knee swells up any from hitting. I ran the bases yesterday and did some sliding, so I'm ready for that."


Hart struck out in his first two at-bats, then singled and doubled, and ran the bases with no issue. He will take at-bats only again today, then play in the field for the first time Friday.


The plan is to limit Hart's action to minor-league games, allowing the Brewers to backdate any DL time. That way, he'd only have to miss the first four games of the season should he not be ready to play.


If Hart does open on the DL, the Brewers will have another roster spot to fill. As it stands now, utility infielders Cesar Izturis and Brooks Conrad appear to have spots secured, and both are non-roster players.


The Brewers have only two openings on their 40-man roster. Would they try to open another spot for a non-roster player such as Travis Ishikawa? Or would they just keep one of their two impressive young outfielders, Logan Schafer or Caleb Gindl, both of whom are on the 40-man roster?


Schafer and Gindl were optioned to Class AAA Nashville after the game against Arizona, but the Brewers could recall either—probably Schafer—if Hart opens on the DL.


"I know what we're going to do, but I don't want to say it because I want players as long as they're in this camp to feel like they have a chance to make the team," said Roenicke. "Until I tell them otherwise, I don't want to say something that they pick up the paper and read.


"The two of them (Schafer and Gindl), we really like. We'd be comfortable with either one of those guys on the team. We've also got Corey Patterson over there (in minor-league camp). He's got experience. Our depth in the outfield is really good."


Greinke stays hot


Greinke has been scary good this spring. In seven innings in a 7-1 victory over Arizona, he allowed five hits, one run and one walk with eight strikeouts to lower his ERA to 0.92 (two earned runs in 19 1/3 innings).


"I normally don't do much but work on pitches in spring—I guess I've worked on a cutter this spring but it came around good—but usually I'll throw pitches in stupid counts just to do it and see how it works," said Greinke, who also doubled in a run. "But I've been trying to use all of my pitches at the proper times.


"That's the No. 1 reason, plus getting smarter and learning how to pitch a little bit. I've been pitching good but I've had some luck, too. That's why the results have been as good as they are."


Roenicke said Greinke couldn't be any better this spring.


"He has been really good," said Roenicke. "From the first outing, he's not holding back. His stuff is really good; he's locating it well and he's really mixing speeds really well. He's got the whole package working."



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