Try telling Mark Rogers that this was just a Spring Training game.
Rogers, the former first-round Draft pick whose path to the Majors has been slowed by arm injuries, appeared in a Brewers uniform for the first time on Friday with a scoreless two-inning appearance against the A’s at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Rogers was so efficient — throwing 21 total pitches — that he lingered in the bullpen after the game to throw 19 pitches more.
“It’s been a long time,” Rogers said. “This may sound ridiculous to some people who have played in Spring Training games a lot, but I was up last night tossing and turning. I was really looking forward to today.”
Rogers’ career might be best summed up by the Brewers’ hot-off-the-presses media guide. He is the eighth-longest tenured member of Milwaukee’s 40-man roster, but his biography and statistical history takes up all of one page.
The Brewers plucked Rogers out of high school in Maine with the fifth overall pick in the 2004 Draft and he made it about two years before the first shoulder injury. He had surgery in 2007 and again in 2008 and missed both seasons entirely before making a comeback in 2009 at Class A Brevard County. Working on a strict pitch count, Rogers posted a 1.67 ERA in 22 starts and one relief appearance before finishing the year in the prospect-rich Arizona Fall League.
Now he’s entering his seventh professional season but is still just 24 years old.
“I don’t even have to think about my arm anymore,” Rogers said. “I can solely focus on executing my pitch.”
Rogers threw his full arsenal — fastball, curveball, cutter/slider and change-up — and then threw most of the credit to new Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson. Peterson stresses free and easy deliveries and has made significant progress with Rogers since the start of camp.
“I’m lucky to have him here,” Rogers said. “We talk about being natural, getting in that natural arm slot because it’s the easiest to repeat. My recovery time has been significantly better. I feel like I can throw every single day. … It’s been a good two weeks.”