Brewers not celebrating Cactus League crown

Barnes will be on Opening Day roster; Roommates Suter, Woodruff make rotation

March 25th, 2018

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Brewers are champions of the Cactus League, and do you know what that nets them?
Absolutely nothing. Not even those free TVs that wily veterans have long tried to convince rookies are bestowed upon the team that wins the spring.
"There's been rumors of flat-screen televisions for 50 years," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "It's been a long-standing Cactus League tradition."
He had another good line after Sunday's 16-1 loss to the White Sox followed Saturday's "clinching" win over the A's, closing the Arizona portion of Milwaukee's spring slate.
"We were out all night celebrating," Counsell quipped.
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Does the Brewers' Spring Training record -- 19-10-2 -- mean anything at all?
"I think what you're asking is, is there any predictive value from it?" Counsell said. "I can't find any. You're playing with, like, 50-man rosters. You're not playing to win the games, you're playing to prepare players. That's the best thing I can tell you."
History offers only one example. The Brewers also claimed the Cactus League crown with a 17-9 record in 1977, when they trained in Sun City, Ariz. That team went 67-95 in the regular season.
But hey, meaningless wins beat meaningless losses.
Removing any doubt
Reliever struggled through Spring Training for the second straight year, but his Opening Day roster spot is safe, Counsell said Sunday.
"Jacob's going to start the season with us," Counsell said.
Barnes has a 3.65 ERA in 100 Major League appearances over the past two years. He pitched in 73 games last season and held opponents to a .215 average against with 80 strikeouts in 72 innings.
He did not pitch well, however, during the limited sample of 2018 Spring Training, carrying an 8.53 ERA and 3.00 WHIP over 6 1/3 innings after a scoreless frame on Sunday against the White Sox. The Brewers tried to get Barnes sharp by pitching him on consecutive days on Saturday and Sunday, and they are considering more work in Tuesday's exhibition finale in Houston.
The team is essentially betting on Barnes' regular-season performance over his Spring Training showing, knowing that he has two Minor League options remaining if issues persist.
"I think that's the right way to start it," Counsell said.

Wild Saturday night
It was a very good Saturday for a pair of Laveen, Ariz., roommates. Brewers left-hander and right-hander , who share a Spring Training apartment in that Phoenix suburb, each learned they had cracked the Opening Day roster.
Suter will start the third game of the regular season, and Woodruff will be in the bullpen for the first four games of the season before preparing to enter the rotation on April 6, when the Brewers need a fifth starter.
They celebrated their first Major League Opening Day roster over a meal at the Black Bear Diner. Suter had breakfast for dinner; two eggs and pancakes. Woodruff had tacos.
"We probably went to the place 18 times," Suter said.
After dinner, they went home and watched bull riding highlights. The duo attended a live rodeo in Phoenix the night before.
"It was definitely super awesome that we both made it," Suter said.

Last call
escaped Arizona without allowing a Cactus League run. He struck out 16 batters versus two walks in 8 1/3 innings spanning seven "A" games, and limited opponents to a .138 average. Counsell is eager to have Hader as a bullpen weapon for a full season.
"The challenge for me is to keep him in a place where he's fresh," Counsell said. "You're going to be able to look at the game every night and say, 'We could pitch Josh here.' And you guys will be asking often, 'Is Josh Hader available?' We can look forward to that conversation."

left Arizona on a low note, issuing a two-out walk and then three straight singles before his final Cactus League appearance was cut short. He was terrific in nine previous appearances, however, compiling a 0.58 WHIP in a bid for the bullpen.
Up next
The bright lights await the Brewers in Houston, where they play the first of a pair of exhibitions against the World Series champion Astros at 7:10 p.m. CT on Monday at Minute Maid Park. Suter gets the start. The game will air on Gameday Audio.