Marcum ready to return to bullpen mound

Marcum ready to return to bullpen mound

PHOENIX -- Brewers starter Shaun Marcum was poised to re-start a series of mound sessions after resting a sore right shoulder, and the club still hopes he'll be part of the Opening Day pitching rotation.

Marcum is dealing with a stiff shoulder for the second straight spring. He has yet to pitch in the Cactus League, but played long toss on Saturday for a third straight day and is expected to throw a bullpen on Sunday or Monday, manager Ron Roenicke said.

"I talked to him this morning, and he thought, timing-wise, he is actually ahead of where he was last year," Roenicke said. "Last year, it was close. We didn't know if he was going to be ready at the beginning [of the season] or not. I think he'll probably be in the same boat this year.

The Brewers' original plan appeared to slot Marcum for the fourth game of the regular season, On April 9 at Chicago. If that changes, Roenicke said he would not expect Marcum to miss more than one start. The Brewers could use swingman Marco Estrada in his spot. They need to make two full turns through the five-man rotation before the season's first off day.

Marcum was similarly bothered last spring but wound up starting the season on time and going 6-1 with a 2.37 ERA in his first 10 starts. The Brewers say his current stiffness has nothing to do with Marcum's struggles at the end of last season and in the playoffs.