Notes: Turnbow gaining attention

Notes: Turnbow gaining notice

PHOENIX -- Ben Sheets pitched three more scoreless innings Thursday, but the Brewers pitcher garnering raves in the clubhouse was reliever Derrick Turnbow, who is rejuvenated since a mechanical fix.

Turnbow retired all three hitters he faced with a nasty array of fastballs that several teammates said were cutting and diving all over the place.

"He's like Mariano Rivera out there," said left fielder Ryan Braun, referring to the Yankees closer. "Everything he throws has cut on it. It's absolutely nasty."

Turnbow is not throwing a cut fastball, the pitch that has made Rivera famous, but instead gained movement on his four-seam fastball by placing his thumb on a seam. The result is better command with more movement.

He worked on the change with pitching coach Mike Maddux and bullpen coach Bill Castro after an outing against the A's earlier this month in which pitches were slipping out of Turnbow's hand in the dry Arizona air.

"It does a little something different every time," said Turnbow, who's expected to pitch the eighth inning this season in front of closer Eric Gagne. "I'm just trying to keep it over the plate. It's doing it more than normal lately. I just want it to be a strike. I'm not trying to make it doing anything, it's just just doing it.

"I'm not going to complain about it, that's for sure."

As Turnbow described the pitch, center fielder Mike Cameron walked by and said, "Great fastball today, Turnbow." Shortstop J.J. Hardy also lauded the pitch and added that Turnbow, "Looks like he has his mental game plan down."

The last two years have presented a mental test for Turnbow, who lost the closer's job to Francisco Cordero midway through 2006 and then struggled at times again in the second half of 2007. He's entering the final season of a three-year contract, though he's arbitration-eligible this winter and the Brewers will retain his rights.

Turnbow was 4-5 last season with a 4.63 ERA in 77 games, and became a lightning rod for fans when the team slumped in July and August. It was unfair, manager Ned Yost said.

"Look at his numbers," Yost said. "Any team would die for this kid. You can't ... be swayed by the people that have an opinion one way or the other. Check the kid's numbers.

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"It's easy to say that pressure is self-imposed and forget about it and go out and do what you can do and now worry about it," Yost said. "But for him, there's always that guillotine effect, where it's one bad outing and everyone wants to pull the trigger. That's not fair, but you have to get past that. He's too good for all that."

Injury notes: Right-hander Yovani Gallardo reported progress on Thursday, after throwing off a mound for the first time since knee surgery.

Gallardo had his right knee scoped on Feb. 19 by head team physician Dr. William Raasch, who repaired a lateral meniscus tear. The team predicted a four-week recovery.

"It was like a five-minute bullpen," Gallardo told The Associated Press. "My arm feels good, my knee feels good. It was a pretty big step."

Catcher Lou Palmisano is not making such steady progress. He suffered a similar left knee injury at about the same time as Gallardo, but an MRI scan did not reveal any tears. But Palmisano continued to feel soreness, so he underwent a second MRI on Wednesday, which revealed a "possible torn meniscus," according to a club spokesman. Palmisano will be examined by Raasch on Friday to confirm the diagnosis.

If surgery is required, Palmisano will travel to Milwaukee for a procedure on Tuesday. He would be sidelined three to four months.

Filtering in: Former Brewers Russell Branyan and Chris Spurling visited the clubhouse on Thursday. Both signed Minor League contracts with the team last month and are not participating in big league camp.

The Brewers' Minor League camp formally opens March 10, according to the Cactus League media guide.

Spurling pitched in 49 games for the Brewers last season and was 2-1 with a 4.68 ERA, but was unable to find work this winter. He re-signed with Milwaukee on Feb. 14.

"It's been a weird offseason for a lot of guys," Spurling said.

Branyan, an infielder who played for the Brewers in 2004 and 2005, batted .196 last season with the Padres, Phillies and Cardinals, but did slug 10 home runs in 163 at-bats. He has posted double-digit homer totals in seven of the last eight seasons.

He said it: "Well, we made the most of two hits." -- Yost, whose club mustered only two hits -- solo home runs by Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks -- in a 5-2 loss to the Mariners

On deck: The Brewers continue their long homestand with a game against the Rangers on Friday at Maryvale Baseball Park at 2:05 p.m. CT. Carlos Villanueva will start for Milwaukee, with Chris Capuano slated to follow. Right-hander Jason Jennings was listed to start for Texas in the second meeting between the teams in three days.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.