Wrapping a bow on Spring Training
Was Brad Nelson trying to make one final bid for the Opening Day roster with his go-ahead, three run home run in Saturday’s Spring Training finale?
“Truthfully, honestly, yeah!” a wide-smiling Nelson said after the Brewers capped their exhibition season with a 7-4 win at Dodger Stadium. “When you haven’t heard anything, why not?”
He finally did hear after the game that he had cracked Milwaukee’s Opening Day roster. It was an emotional moment for a player drafted in 2001 who had climbed to the top of the Brewers’ prospect chart, fallen back down and now has climbed back to the big leagues.
General manager Doug Melvin congratulated other players in person Saturday night including outfielder Chris Duffy, whose contract will be purchased from Triple-A Nashville on Sunday to complete the 25-man roster. Also making the cut, as expected, was infielder Casey McGehee, who will switch from uniform No. 52 to No. 14 for the regular season.
The Brewers finished the spring slate with a record of 22-10-3, including 16-3-1 over their final 20 games, 10-1 over their final 11 and 4-0 to end the ledger. They once again came from behind on Saturday after relievers Todd Coffey and David Riske combined to throw 64 pitches over the first two innings as the Dodgers took a 3-0 lead. Seth McClung threw 30 more pitches in the third inning and Jorge Julio threw 24 pitches in the fourth.
Dave Bush, appearing in relief to tune up for a probable inning of work on Opening Day (his first start does not come until April 11) finally settled things down in the fifth inning with a nine-pitch, seven-strike frame.
“I wanted to encourage everybody to throw their off-speed pitches, their change-ups,” manager Ken Macha said. “[Coffey] didn’t throw any until the end. Riske threw 13 straight fastballs [in one stretch]. … The other guys all mixed their pitches.”
The Brewers rallied with three runs in the seventh inning and four more in the ninth. Craig Counsell hit a tying RBI single before Nelson crushed a three-run homer to straightaway center field.