The Week In Review, March 14-March 21

Each Sunday night throughout the season I’ll be looking back at the previous week – who performed well, who wasn’t so good, what to look for next week and other points of interest from the week.

Marcum on St. Patrick's Day, where he was very good before leaving with a stiff shoulder.

The Brewers spent much of the past week slowly trying to get healthy, but some more progress was made on completing the roster. Most of the United States forgot about preseason baseball for a few days as the NCAA Tournament got underway, but out in Arizona, they kept on playing…

Who’s Hot?

Luis Cruz had a good week as he strengthened his case for the final bench spot, as Erick Almonte cooled down a little bit, batting 9/19 (.474) with six runs scored and four RBIs, all coming on Monday against the Giants. Cruz did have a fielding error at shortstop on Saturday, but it was his first of the spring. Cruz also showed versatility, playing all over the infield throughout the latter part of the week and playing left and right field on Monday and Tuesday.

Jeremy Reed played well, as he battles with Brandon Boggs and Chris Dickerson for the last outfielder spot. Reed is probably a long shot to make the team, as Dickerson has been a proven big leaguer and both Dickerson and Boggs are switch hitters, but he didn’t hurt his case this week, going 7/19 (.368) with a home run and six RBIs.

Another guy battling for a spot on the team, George Kottaras hit very well for the week, going 7/15 (.467) with his second homer of the spring and five RBIs.

Despite missing a couple of games due to minor discomforts, Rickie Weeks picked up seven hits in twelve at bats this week, including a game on Wednesday night in which he went 3/3 with 3 doubles.

On the rubber, we saw an encouraging start on Saturday from Randy Wolf, who pitched 5.2 innings and gave up two earned runs. Wolf also pitched on Monday, giving up three runs in four innings of work. Not outstanding, but after the way Wolf looked in his first two starts, it looks like he should be in control once the season starts.

Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum had good starts on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Marcum gave the Brewers a scare when he left his start with shoulder tightness, but the injury was revealed to be minor and he won’t miss any regular season starts. One run, three Ks in 4.2 innings for Gallardo, two Ks, one hit, and no runs in three innings for Marcum.

In the bullpen, the guy who really stood out was Pat Egan. Egan threw 3.2 innings over three appearances this week, and didn’t yield a run or walk anyone. Unfortunately he didn’t strike anyone out either, but in 6.1 innings this spring Egan hasn’t allowed a run.

Who’s Not?

I mentioned Erick Almonte earlier – Almonte didn’t have a horrible week but his batting average for the spring dropped more than fifty points to .382, and with Luis Cruz having a big week, Almonte’s prospects for making the team have to have dimmed.

Chris Narveson, after dominating through his first couple starts, struggled on back to back outings, giving up four runs and six hits in 4.2 innings on Tuesday and seven runs on nine hits and two walks in 4.1 innings today. His spring ERA is now up to 6.48.

After the Brewers optioned Mark Rogers to AAA, saying he wouldn’t be ready to make a start on April 6th, the door was opened for Wily Peralta to show that he belonged. He responded by giving up five runs while only recording one out after getting the start on Friday. Not exactly the kind of stuff that gives your manager confidence in you.

Injury Update:

A few Brewers made their first appearances of the spring this week. Mat Gamel got back on the field this week, but it may be too late for him to win a spot on the team – especially since he picked up a fielding error and a throwing error in his first action on the field on Saturday. LaTroy Hawkins also made his first appearance of the spring on Friday, when he threw an inning in a minor league game. Hawkins may not be ready for opening day, but he is making progress.

Manny Parra played catch on Saturday and it went well, but he will not be ready for opening day. Corey Hart continues to improve, but it is looking more and more unlikely that he’ll be able to make the opening day roster.

Shaun Marcum, as mentioned before, left his Thursday start early with a stiff shoulder, and Ron Roenicke appeared concerned – but Friday came with good news, as there is nothing much wrong with Marcum’s shoulder. He might miss his next spring training start, but he will be fine to start the regular season.

Jonathan Lucroy continues to recover from his broken pinkie. We’ll have to see whether or not he’ll be able to hit in the next couple weeks to determine whether or not he can be in the opening day lineup.

Position Battles:

Backup Infielder: As previously talked about, Luis Cruz made some heavy headway this week on making the roster, as he heated up with the bat as Erick Almonte cooled off, and it seems obvious that Almonte is a better and more versatile fielder. Anything can happen, but this week it looks like Cruz has the edge.

Catcher: George Kottaras had a good week with the bat this week, as mentioned earlier, and he threw out another baserunner. Kottaras has now caught 2 of 9 baserunners, while his primary opponent, Wil Nieves, has caught only 1 of 9 baserunners. Nieves didn’t have a bad week hitting, but his spring line is .273/.333/.303 while Kottaras is at .372/.400/.698. This one looks heavily in Kottaras’ favor at this point, as he has had a very good spring.

Back of the bullpen: With the injuries to Parra and Hawkins, it looks like the opening day bullpen will leave plenty of opportunities for the guys who were originally battling for one spot. Now, as many as three guys could make it out of the following: Brandon Kintzler, Mike McClendon, Sean Green, Mark DiFelice, and Pat Egan. Remember, Egan is a Rule 5 pick and must make the team or he will be offered back to Baltimore. Green and Kintzler have both been pretty solid. Also, keep your eyes on Mitch Stetter as a dark horse candidate, as currently Zach Braddock is the only lefty who appears to be on target for opening day.

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