Almonte, Reed get final bench spots
The Brewers just announced that infielder Luis Cruz had cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A Nashville, meaning 33-year-old nonroster invitee Erick Almonte has won the final spot on the team’s Opening Day bench. Almonte, who plays first and third base, has proven adequate in left field and right field and could also be used at shortstop in an emergency, made his case by hitting .441 in Spring Training.
“Pinch-hitting, without a doubt, is the toughest thing there is to do in baseball,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “And when you find a guy who you think has the ability to do it, it’s a special guy.
“I’m not saying this guy is going to be a huge success [but] I’d be very surprised if he isn’t very good at this job because of the way he approaches his at-bats. He’s always thinking of staying up the middle or the other way. He can drive the ball. He can hit it on a line. And he sees the ball well, he recognizes pitches and doesn’t chase stuff out of the zone.
“I told you guys I don’t like to go on Spring Training, and I still believe that. But there are certain things you see a guy do that [leads you to believe] he has the ability play at the level you need him to.”
The Cruz news came after general manager Doug Melvin told reporters he’d informed outfielder Brandon Boggs he would not make the team, a decision that cleared the way for Jeremy Reed to be the fifth outfielder. Boggs is out of options, so he will have to clear waivers before the Brewers try assigning him to Triple-A. Since Boggs has been previously outrighted, he could elect to refuse the assignment and head to free agency.
With the removal of Cruz but the addition of outfielder Nyjer Morgan on Sunday, the Brewers’ 40-man roster is at 39, but another spot will open when Boggs’ waiver status is settled. That would leave two openings for Almonte and Reed.
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