Aguilar trying to seize opportunity with Brewers

Aguilar trying to seize opportunity with Brewers

MESA, Ariz. -- One would expect to hear disappointment from a player plucked away from a team that came so close to winning last year's World Series, and that is poised to contend again.

But you won't hear disappointment from Jesus Aguilar, the slugging first baseman who came to the Brewers from the Indians via the waiver wire, and is trying to power his way to a bench spot.

"I know there is a lot more opportunity for me here," Aguilar said. "When I got here, early on, they told me I have a chance here. They have confidence in me, so that builds my confidence up."

In Cleveland, the Indians had confidence in Aguilar, too, but they did not have a spot. Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli held down first base in recent seasons, and while Napoli is not back for 2017, Santana remains a mainstay and the Indians also signed Edwin Encarnacion.

"We had all those guys in front of me," Aguilar said.

He added: "I feel like I've been waiting for a new opportunity for a while, and thankfully I'm in an organization that is giving young players a lot of opportunity."

Aguilar's clearest opportunity appears to be via the Brewers' bench. The team signed Eric Thames to a three-year deal after his three years in the Korean Baseball Organization, and intend to start Thames at first base.

Spring Training statistics mean little, but Aguilar's are nonetheless eye-popping: A .462 average after 26 at-bats, an .885 slugging percentage and a 1.447 OPS. Aguilar has already hit two doubles and three home runs in Cactus League games.

The Brewers planned from the start to give Aguilar a significant dose of at-bats. The question is whether he would produce in more-limited duty on the bench.

"Like all the guys you're going to have on your bench, it's hard to project it," manager Craig Counsell said. "Irregular at-bats are hard for everybody. You just try to make it favorable for them; favorable spots to hit."

Is it particularly challenging for a power hitter?

"I don't describe him as a power hitter, necessarily, because his profile is of a lot of contact," Counsell said, a nod to the fact Agular has topped 100 strikeouts in only one of his nine professional seasons. "Which I do think can play a little better off the bench."

Last call

• The Brewers scratched catcher Andrew Susac before Tuesday's game against the Cubs because of a stiff neck. Rene Garcia started instead and had a big day in a 7-7 tie with the Cubs, throwing out three would-be basestealers and finishing with a double and two runs scored. 

• Over in Minor League camp, pitching prospect Taylor Williams surrendered a Victor Roache home run but sat around 96 mph in his first inning of a game this spring. Williams, one of several prospects to appear in the Brewers vs. Brewers scrimmage, took it slow in big league camp as he comes back from Tommy John surgery.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.