PHOENIX, Ariz. -- The deliberations may be over, but the adventure is just beginning. Manager Craig Counsell made it official on Monday -- his Opening Day second baseman will be an eight-year Major League veteran who has never played an inning at second base in the big leagues.
“[Mike] Moustakas is going to play second base,” Counsell said. “That debate is over internally.”
Moustakas has played 937 games at third base over the past eight years and four games at first base, but with Travis Shaw fitting best as a corner infielder -- despite 39 games at second for the Brewers after Moustakas arrived late last season -- the Brewers are ready to put their eggs in Moustakas’ basket.
“He’s handled the game action flawlessly,” Counsell said. “He has not had to turn one double play in a game yet. That might be more of a state-of-the-game issue. But it’s really his work that he’s done every morning for the last three weeks. Really from 10 days in, we were very comfortable with his work and know that he’s capable of handling this.”
Counsell likes his players to have some versatility and he anticipates using Moustakas at third and Shaw at first at times, especially late in games when the circumstances call for some juggling. But he does not plan to flip the two between second and third regularly.
“He’s got very good feet,” Counsell said of Moustakas. “He’s got very good hands. He’s not going to have high-end range, but he’s got very good feet and very good hands and he also can accomplish a lot at the plate. He’s very instinctual as a player. I think what he’s excited about is the move to the middle of the diamond. You’re way more involved in plays, everything. He is enjoying that part of it.”
The Brewers are confident they can make up for a lack of range with good positioning.
“Range is a very positive attribute, so it always helps, no matter how you’re positioned,” Counsell said. “We hope we can guess where the ball’s going to be hit. If you’re doing a good job of it, hopefully you’re standing where it’s hit, and you don’t need to run to where it’s hit.”
Ultimately, the Brewers know they’re entering some uncharted territory with Moustakas, but given his ability in the field, his strength at the plate, his background as a shortstop in high school and the promise of middle-infield prospects Keston Hiura and Mauricio Dubon, the Brewers are comfortable with the adventure before them.
“There are going to be things that happen in the field that happen for the first time,” Counsell said. “It’s fun. I think it’s enjoyable for him. It’s a new challenge.”
Opening Day form
“I was really happy today, because I was locating my fastball well, and I was throwing my slider for a strike,” Chacin said. “My changeup was really good, the best I’ve thrown in Spring Training. That’s something I really want to improve. Also working with the fastball in to lefties -- that’s something I see is really working for me. If I can locate that pitch there, a changeup here and there, and then use my slider, I think that’s a good sign that I’m getting in season form.”
Counsell hasn’t announced his Opening Day starter yet, but no one looks better suited to the task than Chacin.
“We’ll be ready whenever,” Chacin said, shrugging off speculation of an imminent announcement. “You never know here. I’ll be happy any place they put me. I just want to win games, help the team, make another playoff -- that was so much fun last year.”
Brewers trim roster
The Brewers made eight roster moves on Monday, leaving 49 players in big league camp. Right-handed pitchers Marcus Diplan, Trey Supak and Aaron Wilkerson were optioned, while catcher Payton Henry, left-hander Angel Perdomo and right-handers Zack Brown, Bubba Derby and Jon Olczek were all reassigned to Minor League camp.