The Brewers added another left-handed bat to the roster Wednesday by claiming the versatile Joe Inglett off waivers from the Rangers.
Inglett, 31, has appeared in the Majors with the Indians and Blue Jays and can play just about anywhere on the diamond. He saw most of his Major League action at second base in 2008 as a fill-in for the injured Aaron Hill and batted .207 .297 that season. In 2009, Inglett logged 99 Major League plate appearances for Toronto and batted .281 with a .347 on-base percentage.
To make room on the full 40-man roster, the Brewers designated reliever Chris Smith for assignment. Smith appeared in 35 games for Milwaukee last season and posted a 4.11 ERA, but would have had a hard time winning a job for 2010 in a very crowded bullpen.
The Rangers claimed Inglett off waivers from the Jays on Dec. 4 but designated him for assignment last week to make way for free agent pick-up Khalil Greene. A left-handed hitter, Inglett has played 122 games at second base, a combined 69 games at all three outfield positions and seven at third base at the Major League level. The Brewers formally listed him as an infielder.
He has a real opportunity to catch on with the Brewers, who appear to have one job up for grabs on the infield and one on the outfield.
“We’ve got a lot of guys coming to camp but he’s a left-handed hitter and we have a right-handed hitting lineup,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin. “I told him he would come to camp with a chance to win a job.”
Milwaukee’s outfield is set from left to right with Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Corey Hart, and Jody Gerut is penciled in as the top back-up. The only other outfielder on the roster is 23-year-old Lorenzo Cain, but Cain lost part of the 2009 season to a knee injury and is likely to begin 2010 in the Minor Leagues. The Brewers will also have three left-handed-hitting nonroster outfielders in camp: Trent Oeltjen, Adam Stern and prospect Logan Schafer.
On the infield, the Brewers re-signed Craig Counsell to be the primary backup but will have lots of competition behind him. Mat Gamel could make the roster if Casey McGehee has a setback with his surgically-repaired knee, and the Brewers also have three other infielders on the 40-man: Adam Heether, Hernan Iribarren and Luis Cruz. Heether and Cruz have options remaining and could end up in the Minors. Iribarren is similar to Inglett in that he’s an out-of-options left-handed hitter who plays second base and the outfield.
“I think Counsell is locked in and after that we’re pretty open,” Melvin said.