Coming off a year of tragedy, veteran left-hander Scott Schoeneweis has a fresh start with the Brewers.
The team on Tuesday inked Schoeneweis to a Minor League contract that includes an invitation to big league camp, where he will compete to be a second lefty out of Milwaukee’s bullpen. Schoeneweis, 36, made 45 appearances for the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 2009 season marked by the sudden death of his wife, Gabrielle, on May 20.
If he makes Milwaukee’s roster, Schoeneweis’ salary would be $800,000.
“You go through a year like he went through, maybe getting back to baseball is the best thing,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said.
The Brewers signed Schoeneweis partly on the recommendation of new pitching coach Rick Peterson, who coached Schoeneweis in New York in 2007 and 2008. Peterson recent spoke with his former pupil to gauge his interest in a comeback.
Understandably, Schoeneweis’ performance suffered as last season wore on. He finished with a 7.12 ERA.
The Brewers’ primary left-handed reliever is Mitch Stetter, who appeared in a career-high 71 games last season with a 3.60 ERA and held left-handed batters to a .178 average. In parts of 11 seasons with six Major League teams, Schoeneweis has limited lefties to a .229 average.
“He’s been pretty good left-on-left and we always talk about trying to squeeze two lefties on our staff,” Melvin said. “That can be tough to do on a National League pitching staff. Mitch Stetter has done a nice job for us, but you never know when somebody is going to be hit by a line drive or turn an ankle. It’s nice to have some experienced depth.”
Asked whether Schoeneweis expressed a willingness to begin the season in the Minor Leagues, Melvin said, “That’s not the focus right now. I don’t know if he will or not. I told Scott we would be fair with him.”
Melvin also confirmed that the Brewers had re-signed left-hander Chase Wright to a Minor League contract, but Wright’s dead does not include an invitation to big league camp. Wright’s agent contacted the Brewers looking for a job, Melvin said.
With Schoeneweis, the Brewers have 57 players on their Spring Training roster including 32 pitchers. Melvin, who was scheduled to travel to Phoenix on Wednesday for a few days off before the start of Spring Training, might be just about finished adding pieces.
“You never know, but you get to the point where you’ve got too many people,” he said. “You don’t want to be where nobody can get innings and nobody can get at-bats. We’re probably getting close to that point. We’re pretty deep right now.”