For the first time in 709 days, former Brewers All-Star left-hander Chris Capuano was just one of the guys on Tuesday.
Capuano, attempting a comeback from his second career Tommy John surgery, was among the Brewers pitchers who threw off a mound on Day 2 of formal workouts at Maryvale Baseball Park. Capuano threw a full arsenal of pitches — fastball, slider, change-up — in his first action with fellow Major Leaguers since March 17, 2008, when he re-injured his left elbow in a Cactus League game against the Mariners.
“Finally, for the first time in a while I really feel healthy,” Capuano said after his 45-pitch session. “My arm is not even a thought. It’s fun to just go out there and play.”
Capuano is operating without any restrictions this spring after finishing last season with a pair of rookie league affiliates. For the second straight year, the 2006 All-Star and 2005 18-game winner is in Brewers camp on a Minor League contract.
Brewers manager Ken Macha, who joined the team last season while Capuano was still on a strict rehabilitation program, was particularly looking forward to Tuesday’s session.
“I have to give this guy some credit with the amount of work he’s put in to get to this particular point,” Macha said. “Not just that, talking about him with Doug [Melvin, Milwaukee’s general manager] and Gord [Ash], the assistant GM, this guy is a pretty established Major League pitcher. … I think he’s got a particular passion for the game and he’s going to play it all out. Good for him.”
Capuano is not considered a candidate for the Opening Day roster because he pitched in just six low-level Minor League games last season. He probably will need some extensive time in the Minors this season to prove he’s healthy.
But player and manager both are holding out hope that Capuano could help the big league club in the future. For now, the idea is to stretch Capuano’s arm as a starter.
“It would be nice to strike some gold from somebody,” Macha said.
Said Capuano: “I look around and see a lot of pitchers and a lot of lefties, and I know the competition is going to be steep. But it’s important to have a good spring and show them that I’m in top form so that even if they don’t bring me up right away it could happen at some point later. … In my experience, if I’ve earned it, I’ve usually gotten it. Hopefully, if I do well I can earn my spot.
“People have been asking me, ‘After two years, does it feel strange?’ And the honest answer is that it does not. Maybe it’s because of all the familiar faces, guys like Doug Davis and Claudio Vargas, it feels surprisingly normal.”