Kranitz gets head start with Brewers' staff

Kranitz gets head start with Brewers' staff

Kranitz gets head start with Brewers' staff
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers pitchers and catchers don't formally report until Wednesday, but Rick Kranitz and Co. are already getting a jump on Spring Training.

Kranitz, the team's fourth pitching coach in as many springs, has been hosting a voluntary minicamp at Maryvale Baseball Park since Saturday. All but five or six of the 27 pitchers on Milwaukee's camp roster have attended, but because it's a voluntary affair, Kranitz declined to say who has yet to make an appearance.

"There are a lot of guys here early, and that's really nice," Kranitz said via telephone following Monday's workout. "It's my chance to get to know them in a bit of an informal atmosphere, before the first day of Spring Training comes around and these guys are busy all over the place. This is a nice, comfortable and informal setting for both me and the players."

Kranitz is getting to know the pitchers' personalities and their physical conditions. Some are already at the point of throwing bullpen sessions and filled the mounds at Maryvale Baseball Park on Sunday and again Monday. Others are still building to that point.

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There's time for everyone to get ready. Kranitz plans to have all of his pitchers throw two or three bullpen sessions before they see their first hitter.

"It's important for me to get guys set up into their routine, but it's also important to do it the right way," Kranitz said. "I'm not even looking at 'stuff' right now. There's no need to impress anybody yet. They're not ready for that -- they're not ready to jump on their fastball like they're going to be able to do when the season starts.

"Right now, I'm looking for controlled deliveries and command of the strike zone with the fastball. We'll build the arm strength by staying under our control and doing our long toss and going through our program."

In the past, pitchers have sometimes thrown live batting practice on the first day of formal workouts. Under Kranitz, Brewers hitters who report early won't get their first live look at the team's revamped staff until late this week or next.

"I believe you have to build to that," he said. "These guys are in a progression, and they're not going to face hitters right away. They need to get their feet underneath them. I think any time you put a guy in there swinging the bat, the intensity goes up. Some guys aren't ready for that."

The schedule will fall into place quickly. Pitchers and catchers will take part in their first official workout on Wednesday, and the full squad will work out for the first time on Feb. 22. Six days after that, the Brewers play their Cactus League openers, split-squad games at home against the Giants and at Mesa, Ariz., against the Cubs.

By the time those games begin, Kranitz and manager Ron Roenicke will have sketched out a rotation for a rebuilt starting staff that features newcomers Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum. As of Monday, they had not gotten that far.

"We'll have a conversation soon, because you have to know a little bit where you're going," Kranitz said, "but you try to build in some extra days along the way for rainouts and things like that. Right now, we're just getting everybody in here to see how they look, find out how much they've thrown and how many times they're going to need to throw before the games. Sometimes you make decisions based on that."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for 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.