PHOENIX -- The smile returned to Brewers right-hander Mark Rogers' face Saturday, and he said the life on his fastball had returned, too, in a round of live batting practice against Minor Leaguers at Maryvale Baseball Park.
Rogers, who came to camp aiming for a spot in Milwaukee's starting rotation, has been missing both velocity and command in recent Cactus League outings, so the Brewers are skipping his turn and brainstorming ways to rediscover the form that carried Rogers to a 3.92 ERA in seven starts late last season. Saturday's 30-pitch session against hitters was the first step.
"They wanted me to be facing hitters instead of just throwing a 'pen, and it went really good," Rogers said. "I feel much better. I don't know if we have one more of those and then back to a game, or right to game."
Rogers said Brewers coaches had yet to broach the idea of trying a relief outing or two.
"They definitely have my best interest at heart, for sure," he said. "I still have a little bit of time, and I feel better every day. I definitely had more life on the ball just now and threw harder. I'm going to continue to make progress. I'm not sure what the next step is, exactly."
He had a knowledgeable scout on hand. Fellow right-hander Brandon Kintzler watched the session from behind the backstop.
"Moral support," Kintzler said. "There's nothing tougher than getting 'up' at 9 a.m. to face hitters."