PHOENIX -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke used "Yovani Gallardo" and "Opening Day" in the same sentence for the first time on Friday, making it unofficially official that the right-hander will start a fourth consecutive season opener.
Gallardo returned from the World Baseball Classic to start Wednesday against the D-backs, and the Brewers are tentatively planning to bring him back on three days' rest for a limited outing on Sunday against the Dodgers in Glendale, Ariz. That would line him up to pitch every fifth day leading to the Brewers' April 1 season opener against the Rockies at Miller Park.
Another member of Team Mexico, Marco Estrada, could also come back a day early to pitch a few innings Monday against the Indians, lining him up for the second game of the regular season.
"That's how we're lining it up, and if everything goes smooth, I think that's what we'll do going into the regular season," Roenicke said. "We haven't just said, 'This is exactly what we're doing with them,' but we're trying to line it up that way. From there, we'll see how everybody else falls into place."
Candidates for the other three spots in the rotation include left-hander Chris Narveson and right-handers Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta and Mark Rogers.
"I know who I am kind of thinking of and what's going to happen, but I don't want to say that right now," Roenicke said.
What to do with Rogers remains a quandary for Roenicke and his staff. The former first-round Draft pick is out of Minor League options and pitched well for the Brewers late last season, but he is working with diminished velocity this spring and erratic command, leading to 10 walks versus one strikeout in Cactus League games.
"He's going to probably throw some type of a simulated game here in the next [number] of days, and [then] we'll kind of re-evaluate and see what we're going to do there," Roenicke said. "We've talked to him and want to figure out what's the next step to get him back to that guy we saw last year in September."
One option is moving Rogers to relief, if only temporarily.
"Rick [Kranitz, the team's pitching coach] has talked about that, and is going to do some things here with him in the next couple of days, and then see whether it's a Minor League game, an inning or two in relief for us, we're going to try to figure that out," Roenicke said. "Right now, I don't have him scheduled to start a Major League game, but that's not to say that he won't do it."
Despite the options Rogers may have, he has been clear he wants to start.
"From the way he threw last year and what we saw, he feels like he can do it and we want to give him the opportunity to do it," Roenicke said. "But we need to get him back to pitching that way before we move on with him. … The biggest thing is let's get him right. [Then] figure out what we're trying to do."