The Brewers this week signed former Reds outfielder Norris Hopper to a Minor League contract that included an invitation to Major League Spring Training but it doesn’t include an invitation to Major League Spring Training camp, two club officials said Thursday afternoon.
Hopper will draw on a $430,000 if he spends time with the big league club. He will turn 31 in late March and split his entire 2009 season between the Triple-A affiliates of the Reds, Nationals and White Sox, batting .281 with a .337 on-base percentage.
Hopper appeared in 168 games for the Reds in parts of three seasons from 2006-2008. He played 121 games in 2007 and batted .329 with a .371 on-base percentage, 51 runs scored and 14 stolen bases.
Hopper can play all three outfield positions and is a right-handed hitter, which could be a bonus if the Brewers need bench help in 2010. All three of Milwaukee’s outfield starters — left fielder Ryan Braun, center fielder Carlos Gomez and right fielder Corey Hart — hit righty, but backups Jody Gerut and Hernan Iribarren are left-handed hitters and so are Trent Oeltjen and Adam Stern, the nonroster outfielders already invited to big league camp. Prospect Lorenzo Cain is a right-handed hitter, but after an injury-plagued 2009 season he’s likely to begin 2010 in the Minors.