Roster shake-up: Pena, Mendoza out; Rottino stays

Reliever Luis Pena, a longtime Brewers farmhand, was claimed off waivers from the Mariners on Sunday at the same time the team announced that veteran reliever and nonroster invitee Ramiro Mendoza had failed his physical and will not participate in camp.

A third player is staying put. Catcher Vinny Rottino, a Wisconsin native who was designated for assignment Thursday along with Pena, cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Nashville. He will continue to compete for a roster spot in big league camp this spring, but Rottino is no longer on the 40-man roster.

Rottino and Pena were both placed on waivers the day the Brewers claimed Angels pitcher Nick Green off waivers and signed free agent pitcher Braden Looper.

Technically, Pena was the one displaced for Green, a right-handed starter. The Brewers had a good idea that Pena would be claimed, and Seattle was a likely destination since new M’s general manager Jack Zduriencik used to be the Brewers’ scouting director. One other team, probably the White Sox, who have an affiliate in the Double-A Southern League and saw Pena during his excellent 2007 season, also had some interest.

“You can look at it as a trade [of] Nick Green for Luis Pena, a starter for a reliever,” general manager Doug Melvin said. “We need starters and Nick is only 24. Luis is 26, but you have to give up on power arms.”

Mendoza’s Brewers tenure was much shorter than that of Pena, who originally signed with the team out of Venezuela in 1999. Mendoza signed about two weeks ago, and hoped to pitch in the Majors for the first time since 2005 with the Yankees.

The Brewers were aware of Mendoza’s checkered medical history, and spent the last two weeks trying unsuccessfully to obtain records from a hip surgery. When Mendoza underwent his physical exam on Saturday, the extent of that major surgery was revealed, and the Brewers decided to pass.

“The hip surgery was much more extensive than we thought so our doctors don’t want to take the risk with it,” assistant general manager Gord Ash said. “That’s not to say he can’t pitch. He pitched all winter with it. These things are all based on the level of risk that you are willing to take.”

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