Veras shaping up as seventh-inning man

Veras shaping up as seventh-inning man

PHOENIX -- Manager Ron Roenicke says newly-acquired reliever Jose Veras is leaving little doubt that he can be a reliable seventh-inning guy for the Brewers this season.

If Milwaukee can get a steady contribution from Veras, it would give Roenicke some easy decisions to make at the tail end of close games, with Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford holding down the eighth and ninth innings, respectively.

Veras, who was acquired from Pittsburgh on Dec. 12 in a trade for Casey McGehee, has made four Cactus League appearances this spring -- including a perfect inning on Wednesday against the Cubs.

"His breaking ball is really scary for a right-hander," Roenicke said. "It looks like it's a fastball coming right at him, and has a nice break on it."

Veras has scattered two hits and one unearned run over four innings of work, striking out three. He appeared in 79 games for the Pirates last season, posting a 3.80 ERA while striking out 79 hitters in 71 innings. Opposing hitters are batting .133 against him this spring heading into play on Thursday, which is something Roenicke believes the right-hander can keep up as long as he keeps his breaking pitches down in the zone.

"They're gonna be in trouble [when he keeps the ball down]," Roenicke said. "I know command has been an issue just looking at his totals in the past. But when he throws strikes and puts the ball over the plate, you look at the batting average against and it's just outstanding."