Davis, Figaro make final cut
Outfielder Khris Davis and right-hander Alfredo Figaro made the final cut when the Brewers set their Opening Day roster on Saturday.
Davis won the final bench spot over catcher/first baseman Blake Lalli, and Figaro the final bullpen spot over fellow righty Donovan Hand. Officially, the Brewers purchased Figaro’s contract and returned Hand, Lalli, catcher Anderson De La Rosa and first baseman/outfielder Sean Halton to Triple-A Nashville.
The Brewers’ roster broke down like this:
Pitchers (13): John Axford, Burke Badenhop, Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers, Figaro, Yovani Gallardo, Michael Gonzalez, Tom Gorzelanny, Jim Henderson, Brandon Kintzler, Kyle Lohse, Chris Narveson and Wily Peralta.
Catchers (2): Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado.
Infielders (5): Yuniesky Betancourt, Alex Gonzalez, Aramis Ramirez, Jean Segura and Rickie Weeks.
Outfielders (5): Norichika Aoki, Ryan Braun, Davis, Carlos Gomez and Logan Schafer.
Disabled list (5): Jeff Bianchi, Mat Gamel (60-day DL), Taylor Green, Corey Hart, Mark Rogers.
Eight players are on a big league Opening Day roster for the first time: Davis, Fiers, Figaro, Henderson, Maldonado, Peralta, Schafer and Segura.
The Brewers went with 13 pitchers in part because Lohse just signed Monday after a very abbreviated Spring Training, and the extra arm will offer some coverage while he gets up to speed. Manager Ron Roenicke said the team would re-evaluate its alignment after playing several series.
He would prefer to return to a 12-man staff as soon as possible.
“When you look at a four-man bench and one of them has to be your backup catcher who you can’t afford to put in too early in games, you’re really looking at a three-man bench. In a National League game, it’s hard to do,” Roenicke said. “We did it quite a bit last year; it’s hard to do.”
Davis’ right-handed power helped his cause, plus the fact that he was already on the 40-man roster, Roenicke said.
And of picking Figaro over Hand, Roenicke said the Brewers favored, “More of a ‘stuff’ guy, being able to come in and really throw some good fastballs at people down in the zone. We liked his command. That’s nothing against Donny Hand; he pitched great for us and opened a lot of eyes.”
The Brewers figure to make some early-season changes. Besides returning to a 12-man pitching staff, infielder Green is expected to be the first man off the DL. His bid for Opening Day was scuttled by a left hip injury.
Green was to be the Brewers’ backup to first base, but the club will instead start with a combination of shortstops Gonzalez and Betancourt and catcher Maldonado. General manager Doug Melvin and Roenicke both indicated the Brewers were not particularly interested in players who became available this week, including Daric Barton (waived by the A’s) and Juan Rivera (released by the Yankees).
“Unless it’s somebody a lot better, we’re reluctant to make any moves,” Roenicke said. “In part because we feel pretty comfortable with what we have now, and we know that Corey is coming back. Once Corey does come back, there is going to be a decision that has to be made.”
The Brewers open their season on Monday afternoon against the Rockies at Miller Park.
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