Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Pena, Nolin bidding for spot in Brewers bullpen

Counsell to announce spring pitching assignments
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

PHOENIX -- The Brewers let one player walk in free agency and traded another away, leaving right-hander Ariel Pena as the only remnant of the trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Angels in 2012.

As Pena is out of Minor League options, and the Brewers have at least seven starting pitchers ahead of him on the depth chart, it is essentially bullpen or bust for the big right-hander this spring. Pena is one of two out-of-options pitchers -- three if you count Tyler Thornburg, though he is more of a lock to make the team -- bidding for a bullpen spot.

PHOENIX -- The Brewers let one player walk in free agency and traded another away, leaving right-hander Ariel Pena as the only remnant of the trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Angels in 2012.

As Pena is out of Minor League options, and the Brewers have at least seven starting pitchers ahead of him on the depth chart, it is essentially bullpen or bust for the big right-hander this spring. Pena is one of two out-of-options pitchers -- three if you count Tyler Thornburg, though he is more of a lock to make the team -- bidding for a bullpen spot.

• Spring Training: Schedule | Tickets | More info

"We're set in the rotation," manager Craig Counsell said of Pena, "so he's going to pitch, trying to make the team out of the bullpen. … He did a very nice job [in the Majors last season]. He held his own, certainly. He faced some difficult lineups during that time, and I thought he competed. He showed he wasn't over his head in any way. There's optimism."

Left-hander Sean Nolin is the other pitcher who is out of options and bidding for a bullpen spot. The Brewers claimed Nolin off waivers from the A's last week.

Video: Nolin has potential role with Brewers

If either Pena or Nolin don't make the Brewers' Opening Day roster, they would have to be exposed to waivers before getting a Minor League assignment.

Pena went 2-1 with a 4.28 ERA in five starts plus one relief appearance for the Brewers last season. He found late-season life after moving from the bullpen into the starting rotation at Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he finished with a 4.14 ERA in 43 games, including seven starts.

The Brewers acquired Pena from the Angels with pitcher Johnny Hellweg and shortstop Jean Segura in July 2012 for Greinke. All three of those prospects made it to the Majors, with Segura serving as Milwaukee's starting shortstop for the past three years before he was traded to Arizona on Jan. 30. Hellweg came back from Tommy John surgery and was let go after last season. He signed a Minor League deal with the Padres.

Last call
• Reliever Jeremy Jeffress said he strained his right hamstring during a baserunning drill late last week, but neither he nor Counsell believe the injury will impact Jeffress' availability for Opening Day.

"The relievers have plenty of time in this Spring Training schedule, so his preparation will not be altered at all, even if we back him out through the first weekend [of Cactus League play]," Counsell said. "It won't impact his appearances."

• Counsell plans to announce Monday his pitching rotation for the start of exhibition play. The Brewers expect to use nine different pitchers for an inning apiece against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee team on Wednesday, before opening the Cactus League schedule on Thursday with split-squad games at home against the Cubs and on the road against the Giants.

• Thirteen more players with zero to three years of Major League service signed their 2016 contracts in recent days, including starters Jimmy Nelson and Taylor Jungmann. Thirty-seven members of the Brewers' full 40-man roster are now signed.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

Milwaukee Brewers, Ariel Pena