PHOENIX -- The young pitcher bumped from the Brewers' projected starting rotation by the Matt Garza signing is still in competition for a bullpen spot, manager Ron Roenicke said Monday.
Right-hander Tyler Thornburg, 25, is "stretching out," in the event he begins the season as a starter. But unlike the organization's other pitching prospects, who have already been sent to the Minor League complex, Thornburg remains in Major League camp. He could make the team in a multi-inning relief role.
"That's why we've been stretching him out, so no matter which way we go with this, we feel like if he is with us we still could use him in [a flexible] role," Roenicke said. "I think it will be judged on everybody and where he fits. I mean, if he's not as good as somebody else, then it would be beneficial to us to let him go be a starter in Triple-A. But if we feel he's better than the other guys we have, then we would like him in our bullpen."
Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny is still recovering from shoulder surgery and will begin the season on the disabled list, so the Brewers have four bullpen spots spoken for by Jim Henderson, Francisco Rodriguez, Brandon Kintzler and left-hander Will Smith.
That leaves three openings for the six relief candidates still in camp: Zach Duke, Alfredo Figaro, Donovan Hand, Thornburg, Wei-Chung Wang and Rob Wooten. Duke and Wang are left-handers; the rest are righties. Duke and Hand are not on the 40-man roster. Wang is a Rule 5 Draft pick, so if the Brewers take him north, he would have to remain on the roster all season or be offered back to the Pirates.
"Wang, if he's on our staff, we also have another guy who can throw multi-innings," Roenicke said. "So we would have two guys [in Wang and Thornburg] who could do it, and I think that covers you for length. Then we have a lot of the one-inning guys."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.