De La Cruz in mix for spot in bullpen

De La Cruz in mix for spot in bullpen

PHOENIX -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke says reliever Frankie De La Cruz is in the running for a bullpen spot with the big league club, but wants that to serve as an encouraging motivator rather than deterring pressure.

De La Cruz took the decision in Milwaukee's 8-6 loss to the A's on Tuesday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, allowing two hits, four runs (three earned) and two walks without retiring a batter.

"He's in the mix," Roenicke said. "I don't know if he's putting pressure on himself to try to make the team. He's not throwing the same. He came out yesterday and his command was off. Sometimes, when you're trying a bit too hard, you don't relax and make your pitches."

The 28-year-old right-hander signed a Minor League contract with the Brewers prior to the 2010 season, but did not throw in the Major Leagues that year. He threw well in 11 appearances last year -- a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings of work -- and the Milwaukee skipper is hoping to see De La Cruz seize the opportunity in front of him and contribute for the entire 2012 campaign.

"Some guys handle that really well," Roenicke said of the pressure of competing for a spot. "Other guys' emotions take over too much, and physically you're not able to perform in that same rhythm that you need to have. But some guys do really well with that when they have the challenge in front of them, and have a little bit of pressure. I don't know if it's a personality thing or what, but some guys react really well that way."