Finally healthy, Rogers has shot at roster spot

PHOENIX -- It was reflective of Mark Rogers' injury-interrupted career that Sunday, at the start of his ninth professional season and his fourth Major League camp, the former first-round Draft pick finally made his first Cactus League start.

"Here we are," Rogers said.

He is on the cusp of his first Opening Day roster, one of four candidates for three openings in the Brewers' starting rotation. Rogers' bid began shakily, with a 1 2/3-inning start against the Indians in which he walked three batters, surrendered two hits and two runs and threw a wild pitch.

But he was healthy, and after shoulder, elbow and hand surgeries, that counted for something.

"I want to make this team," Rogers said. "I understand what the situation is, obviously. But you can only control what you can control, and that's taking the ball every opportunity I get and pitching to the best of my ability."

He came back from 2011's carpal tunnel surgery to pitch well in '12, going 6-6 with a 4.72 ERA in 18 starts at Triple-A Nashville before a seven-start stint with the Brewers. Rogers was 3-1 with a 3.92 ERA in the Majors and was shut down in September to protect his arm from a dramatic bump in innings.

His 2013 season began with a tough first inning against the Indians. Rogers' trouble started when he walked leadoff man Ezequiel Carrera, who stole second base and then third on a close play. Carrera scored on a single by Mike Aviles, who stole second himself and eventually scored on a groundout.

Rogers said he was simply out of rhythm, and he was not alone. Most of the six Brewers pitchers who worked Sunday struggled with command including right-handed prospect Taylor Jungmann, who walked three batters in 1 2/3 innings, hit another and was the pitcher of decision in the team's 7-4 loss.

The cold, windy, dry conditions on Sunday did not help.

"I really don't expect these guys to be real good early," manager Ron Roenicke said. "If they are, great. That's why we have all of these games to get them locked in."