Return to form makes Braun, Brewers dangerous

Year after posting career lows, slugger looks to have overcome thumb issues

Return to form makes Braun, Brewers dangerous

In the days leading up to Opening Day, MLB.com is examining various aspects of each team's roster. Today, the time has come to focus on a key player for the upcoming season. For the Brewers, that's right fielder Ryan Braun.

PHOENIX -- Before Ryan Braun began driving the baseball in Cactus League games, Carlos Gomez knew his teammate's problematic thumb was feeling better. Gomez saw what Braun was doing during batting practice.

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Clark, Rogers among 7 sent to Minors; OD roster all but set

Brewers down to 27 players in big league camp

Clark, Rogers among 7 sent to Minors; OD roster all but set

PHOENIX -- With a slew of camp reassignments on Tuesday, the Brewers moved to the brink of setting their team for Monday's season opener at Miller Park.

Relievers Rob Wooten, catcher Juan Centeno, first baseman Matt Clark and utility man Jason Rogers were all optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs. Pitcher Ariel Pena, catcher Nevin Ashley and outfielder Matt Long were returned to Minor League camp. The moves left 27 players in big league camp, and, barring a late addition, essentially set Milwaukee's pitching staff while leaving the final bench job down to outfielder Logan Schafer or non-roster utility man Elian Herrera.

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gomez atop Brewers Opening Day lineup

Braun to hit third, with Ramirez batting cleanup

Gomez atop Brewers Opening Day lineup

PHOENIX -- Someday, Carlos Gomez hopes to be a fixture in the middle of a batting order. But the Brewers need him in the leadoff hole, so that's where he'll hit when the regular season begins on Monday.

Manager Ron Roenicke confirmed that the lineup he rolled out against the Reds on Tuesday matches his plan for Opening Day. It looked like this:

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fiers battles through control issues in loss to Reds

Braun, Davis, Lind, Parra hit RBI singles for Brewers

Fiers battles through control issues in loss to Reds

PHOENIX -- Jay Bruce hit a towering three-run home run in the fourth inning, and the Reds added five more runs in the sixth against the Brewers when the National League Central rivals met for the final time this spring on Tuesday at Maryvale Baseball Park in a 10-4 Reds win.

An error charged to Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez aided the Reds' big sixth against Milwaukee left-hander Neal Cotts, who lasted one-third of an inning and was charged with five earned runs. In seven innings this spring, Cotts has surrendered 11 earned runs, 18 hits and six walks.

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Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Last call: Ramirez, Roenicke set plan for playing time

Third baseman, manager agree on strategy

Last call: Ramirez, Roenicke set plan for playing time

PHOENIX -- Last Call is a spot for all the notes and anecdotes from Brewers camp that didn't find a home elsewhere on the site.

• Soon-to-be 37-year-old Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez met Tuesday morning with manager Ron Roenicke to set a plan for regular season playing time. Roenicke said they agreed on a strategy, but opted not to make it public.

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

The Brewers wrote you an excuse note for Opening Day

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The Brewers wrote you an excuse note for Opening Day

That giddiness you feel creeping up your spine, through the back of your mind and making camp on the front of your cerebrum, is thanks to the fact that the greatest day of the calendar year is less than a week away: Opening Day.

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Days after release, Perez re-signs with Crew

Reliever inks Minor League contract with Milwaukee on Tuesday

Days after release, Perez re-signs with Crew

PHOENIX -- How brief was Chris Perez's stint as a free agent? So brief that he never got around to emptying his locker in the Brewers' clubhouse.

Two days after the team released him from big league camp, Perez signed another Minor League contract with Milwaukee on Tuesday. The break took the Brewers off the hook for a $100,000 retention bonus they would have owed Perez had they simply reassigned him to Minor League camp in the first place. Perez would make the same salary in the Majors ($1.5 million plus incentives) as stipulated in his original contract, and he retained opt-outs on May 1 and June 1.

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nelson stays positive despite poor spring

Right-hander, pitching coach cite improved slider in latest start

Nelson stays positive despite poor spring

PHOENIX -- Jimmy Nelson's spotty Spring Training continued Monday in Minor League camp, where the right-hander surrendered 10 earned runs on 11 hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings of a Triple-A game. The outing came after Nelson posted a 6.23 ERA in his four Cactus League starts.

A day later, pitching coach Rick Kranitz and Nelson were pitching the positives.

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Roenicke's focus on future, not past

Manager impressed with Gennett's, Lind's approach vs. left-handers

Roenicke's focus on future, not past

PHOENIX -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke sat down with MLB.com last week to discuss where his team stands heading into his fifth season at the helm. Video of the session is available above, and here are some of the highlights.

On confronting last season's collapse during team meetings this spring.
"I don't want to dwell on it, but by addressing it, talking about it, explaining what I see happened and how we get through it the next time, I think it helps," said Roenicke. "A bad thing will happen to everybody and every team, no matter how good they are. I think to address it and talk about what went wrong is helpful. … That's part of life, and let's learn and let's get through it, and let's be a better team because of it."

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Levering excited to make big league broadcasting debut

Levering excited to make big league broadcasting debut

PHOENIX -- After spending Spring Training calling Brewers games on radio and MLB.com's webcasts, Jeff Levering is ready for his official Major League debut.

The Chapman University graduate is entering his first season on Milwaukee's broadcast team and will call games with Joe Block when Bob Uecker skips select road trips. Levering spent the past two seasons as the lead broadcaster for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox, and got a taste of the big leagues in 2005 as a field reporter and associate producer for Fox Sports West covering the Dodgers and Angels.

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kintzler optioned, Perez released as bullpen race down to three

Blazek, Thornburg and Wooten vying for two relief spots

Kintzler optioned, Perez released as bullpen race down to three

MESA, Ariz. -- The Brewers narrowed the competition for the final spots in their bullpen on Sunday, as Brandon Kintzler was optioned to Triple-A and non-roster right-hander Chris Perez was released.

That leaves three pitchers vying for two relief roles: Michael Blazek, Tyler Thornburg and Rob Wooten.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Blazek scuffles against A's as he battles for bullpen spot

Righty allows three runs in 3 2/3 innings, walking four

Blazek scuffles against A's as he battles for bullpen spot

MESA, Ariz. -- A's right-hander Kendall Graveman continued to dominate Cactus League opposition Sunday, stringing together 6 1/3 scoreless innings against the Brewers in a 7-0 victory for Oakland at Hohokam Stadium.

Graveman, in line to start the A's fourth game of the regular season, faced just two over the minimum in his time on the mound. He allowed only three hits, the first of which didn't come until the fifth, when Gerardo Parra notched a two-out single. Logan Schafer was responsible for the second, a bunt single, but was promptly picked off first base by A's catcher Josh Phegley.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brewers experiment with Parra at first, Jimenez at catcher

Brewers experiment with Parra at first, Jimenez at catcher

MESA, Ariz. -- Spring Training offers clubs a chance to experiment, and the Brewers took advantage Sunday by getting a look at Gerardo Parra at first base and Luis Jimenez at catcher.

Parra started at first against the A's in a Cactus League game at Hohokam Stadium. The outfielder has never played the position in a regular-season game, but has been taking ground balls throughout camp.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Peralta goes six strong vs. Indians, Braun stays hot

Brewers starter slated to take hill April 8 vs. Rockies

Peralta goes six strong vs. Indians, Braun stays hot

PHOENIX -- Jason Kipnis homered for Cleveland and Ryan Braun drove in two runs for Milwaukee as the Indians beat the Brewers, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon at Maryvale Baseball Park.

Braun continued his hot streak as he ripped a double to the gap in right-center in the first inning to score Jean Segura. He added an RBI-single up the middle in the fifth to tie the game.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

'Tough decisions' near for Brewers in setting roster

Roenicke says he's 'a little baffled' as bench, 'pen in play

'Tough decisions' near for Brewers in setting roster

PHOENIX -- The Brewers have some difficult decisions to make over the next week as they determine who will fill the final spots on the bench and in the bullpen.

"I hate to say it, but I'm a little baffled as with which way to go," manager Ron Roenicke said Saturday.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Brewers believe in contender status for 2015

Roenicke feels his club can once again challenge for NL Central title

Brewers believe in contender status for 2015

PHOENIX -- The 2014 Brewers led the Major Leagues in conflicting outcomes. So the 2015 version does not lend itself to one-step analysis.

The '14 Brewers were in first place in the National League Central for 150 days, but they finished the season losing 22 of their last 31 games, including one stretch in which they dropped 13 of 14. The root cause of the late-season demise was a hitting slump that included almost the entire lineup.

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Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Last Call: Brewers' best friend Hank makes spring debut

Dog makes appearance at pet adoption fundraiser

Last Call: Brewers' best friend Hank makes spring debut

PHOENIX -- Last Call is a spot for all the notes and anecdotes from Brewers camp that didn't find a home elsewhere on the site. Today: Man's best friend.

• Hank the Dog made his first appearance of Spring Training on Saturday at Maryvale Baseball Park, where the adopted pooch took part in an adopt-a-pet event and fundraiser for the Arizona Humane Society. Hank ran around on the warning track before Saturday's Cactus League game against the Indians and posed for photos with fans on the right-field concourse.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

'Total package': Arcia impresses in short spring stint

Roenicke says prospect 'fun to watch' as bat develops

'Total package': Arcia impresses in short spring stint

PHOENIX -- The Brewers caught a glimpse of the future on Friday night, as top prospect Orlando Arcia showed off his improving skills over three eventful innings in a Cactus League game against the Reds.

Arcia ripped a pair of doubles in his only at-bats, one to left field and another to right. Both hits came off Major League pitchers in Burke Badenhop and Jumbo Diaz.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gennett, Lucroy go deep in Brewers' win

Fine-tuning Garza strikes out six over 5 2/3 innings

Gennett, Lucroy go deep in Brewers' win

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Brewers hit two home runs while Brandon Phillips drove in four runs for the Reds. In the end, it was Milwaukee that prevailed with a 8-6 victory at Goodyear Ballpark.

It was a bumpy night for both starting pitchers. Reds starter, and rotation candidate, Raisel Iglesias gave up three runs in the first inning and three more in the third. The top of the first began with three straight sharply connected hits, including home runs by leadoff batter Scooter Gennett and Jonathan Lucroy for a 3-0 Milwaukee lead.

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Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brewers to get Lucroy more spring work at first base

All-Star catcher may be able to give veteran Lind some rest against lefties

Brewers to get Lucroy more spring work at first base

PHOENIX -- The Brewers hope to get a look at Jonathan Lucroy at first base at least twice over the final eight games of Spring Training, manager Ron Roenicke said on Friday.

Lucroy is expected to see more time at first this season than he has in the past, possibly to spell Adam Lind when facing left-handed starting pitchers.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Smith can be key piece to Brewers' success

Southpaw hopes to bring impressive spring performance into April

Smith can be key piece to Brewers' success

PHOENIX -- When Brewers manager Ron Roenicke looks at the clubs in the National League Central, he sees five above-average starting rotations. Roenicke said Friday he expects most division games to be close, which places more importance on the bullpen.

If that's indeed the case, reliever Will Smith figures to be a key piece in the Brewers' success this season. The left-hander is having a strong Spring Training, with a 0.87 ERA in 8 Cactus League appearances, building on a strong finish to 2014.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Roenicke taking time before lining up Fiers, Nelson

Brewers manager has plan, but will not need to make call until later

Roenicke taking time before lining up Fiers, Nelson

PHOENIX -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Friday he is still deciding between Mike Fiers and Jimmy Nelson as the club's fourth starter.

Both pitchers will be lined up to be available to start the fourth game of the regular season April 10 against Pittsburgh. But Roenicke said a final decision doesn't need to be made until after Opening Day at the latest.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brewers have grand day against Mariners

Davis, Jimenez each hit slams; Fiers returns from shoulder fatigue with strong start

Brewers have grand day against Mariners

PHOENIX -- Brewers left fielder Khris Davis made his first Spring Training home run count Thursday, hitting a first-inning grand slam that one-hopped its way clear out of Maryvale Baseball Park in the Brewers' 15-1 victory over the Mariners.

Davis connected against Mariners left-hander Roenis Elias, who surrendered six earned runs on eight hits over three-plus innings against a Milwaukee team on a tear. The Brewers have scored at least nine runs in five of their last six games, reaching double-digit runs in four of those games.

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brewers committed to Nelson in rotation

Despite spring struggles, right-hander remains fifth starter

Brewers committed to Nelson in rotation

PHOENIX -- Tyler Thornburg and Michael Blazek may be getting better Spring Training results, but right-hander Jimmy Nelson's fifth-starter status is secure, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke suggested Thursday.

Nelson was handed that job at the start of camp "because of what he did last year in Triple-A," Roenicke said. "He was the most dominant pitcher in Triple-A, and that tells you if he can get to that guy, we have a really nice Major League starter."

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Red-hot Sardinas optioned by Brewers

Infielder set to get more playing time in Minors; Peterson also sent down

Red-hot Sardinas optioned by Brewers

PHOENIX -- After raising his Cactus League batting average 207 points with an 8-for-11 spree over the past week, Brewers infielder Luis Sardinas was rewarded Thursday with a ticket to the Minor Leagues.

"It's a tough league, isn't it?" manager Ron Roenicke said.

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gantner, Thomas bring special bond to Brewers camp

Former teammates at Spring Training as instructors

Gantner, Thomas bring special bond to Brewers camp

PHOENIX -- The appearance of No. 17 in Brewers camp earlier this week signaled the annual arrival of Jim Gantner, the beloved former second baseman who remains the only man to wear that number since his retirement in 1992. Gantner insists he has nothing to do with the ongoing lobby to have his number formally retired by the franchise.

"It's all Tony," said Gantner, referring to longtime Brewers equipment manager Tony Migliaccio. "You know, 'Rillo [former All-Star infielder Jeff Cirillo] wanted my number once. He offered me two used sweatsuits. ... I'm serious! 'Buddy, you can have them,' he said.

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Schafer lends support to Hooten Foundation

Brewers outfielder joins advisory board to help raise awareness of PED abuse

Schafer lends support to Hooten Foundation

PHOENIX -- Moved by a father's effort to educate youth about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs in the memory of his late son, Brewers outfielder Logan Schafer accepted an invitation to serve on the Taylor Hooten Foundation's advisory board.

Other players on the board include Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, Red Sox infielder Dustin Pedroia and Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. They will participate in the foundation's educational activities throughout North America and appear in print, radio and TV public-service ads.

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Last call: Brewers still fighting spread of pinkeye

Last call: Brewers still fighting spread of pinkeye

PHOENIX -- Last Call is a spot for all the notes and anecdotes from Brewers camp that didn't find a home elsewhere on the site. Today: Seeing pink.

The "no high-fives" rule was back in effect Thursday after another case of pinkeye appeared in the Brewers' clubhouse. The latest victim was outfielder Shane Peterson, who was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs in the morning. He has the infection in both eyes, according to manager Ron Roenicke.

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gomez, Braun drive big day for Brewers' bats

Duo combines for five hits and four RBIs in tie against A's

Gomez, Braun drive big day for Brewers' bats

PHOENIX -- Carlos Gomez hit a leadoff home run and logged RBIs in each of the first three innings as the Brewers knocked around A's Opening Day starter Sonny Gray on Wednesday at Maryvale Baseball Park. The game ended in a 9-9 tie after Oakland rallied for four runs in the ninth.

Gray was touched for six earned runs on eight hits and three walks in only 2 2/3 innings, but he wasn't the only pitcher roughed up in the early going. Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson pitched five innings and surrendered four runs (one earned) on six hits, including Ike Davis' long two-run home run in the third inning. Those runs and one more came in the third after Brewers second baseman Luis Sardinas was charged with a costly error.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Little-known Blazek could find spot on Brewers

Right-hander has impressed since club converted him back to a starting pitcher

Little-known Blazek could find spot on Brewers

PHOENIX -- Michael Blazek had two objectives when he came to his second Spring Training with the Brewers: Throw strikes, and don't try too hard. His success in both areas, particularly during a sharp outing against the D-backs on Tuesday night, has the somewhat anonymous right-hander poised to make his name known in 2015.

"I'm not even going to say he's not going to make our team out of Spring Training," manager Ron Roenicke said, "because I don't know. We'll see what happens here the next week and a half. There's some guys we hoped to be throwing a little better."

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.