PHOENIX -- Jesus Aguilar had already made the Brewers' Opening Day roster before smashing a tying, three-run home run in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 13-12 win over the Indians. He just didn't know it yet.Manager Craig Counsell informed Aguilar after the game that he'd made the cut, but delivered
PHOENIX -- Jesus Aguilar had already made the Brewers' Opening Day roster before smashing a tying, three-run home run in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 13-12 win over the Indians. He just didn't know it yet.
Manager Craig Counsell informed Aguilar after the game that he'd made the cut, but delivered the opposite news to three non-roster invitees: Utility men Ivan De Jesus Jr. and Eric Sogard and catcher Rene Garcia. With that, the Brewers were left with 12 position players, an indication that they are prepared to carry an extra pitcher into Opening Day.
"Look, we said all spring, 'Prove to us that you belong on the team,'" Counsell said. "[Aguilar] had a spring where he earned a spot on the team."
Acquired off waivers -- coincidentally, from the Indians -- just before the start of camp, Aguilar is hitting .463 with a 1.395 OPS through his first 54 Spring Training at-bats. His homer on Tuesday against his former team was Aguilar's sixth.
"I just had the mentality coming in here that I had to prove it," Aguilar said. "I played winter ball and that helped me, too. I got here early. I worked with Sandy [Guerrero, a Brewers Minor League coach] early in camp.
"I didn't want to go back to Triple-A. I just felt like I needed to be myself out here."
Now comes the next challenge: Staying hot if the frequency of his at-bats diminish. The Brewers signed Eric Thames to a three-year deal and he figures to see the majority of starts at first base.
Based in part on Aguilar's strong showing, the Brewers re-introduced Thames to the outfield over the past week. That could be one mechanism to get Aguilar into the lineup.
Across the field on Tuesday, Indians manager Terry Francona tipped his cap.
"I think he's getting his chance and he's taking advantage of it," Francona said. "Good for him. Because for various reasons he was blocked over here. I know he felt like he wanted an opportunity. Well he's getting it, and it looks like he's taken advantage of it."
The Brewers still have decisions to make in their starting rotation and bullpen, but with De Jesus, Sogard and Garcia reassigned to Minor League camp -- De Jesus has a clause in his contract that allows him to go to another team if it adds him to the Opening Day roster -- Milwaukee's hitters are set. Counsell will have only four extra position players at his disposal, probably Aguilar, Hernan Perez, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and a catcher on most days.
At least, that was the plan as of Tuesday. An outside move is always possible, as general manager David Stearns proved last year when he signed reliever Carlos Torres two days before Opening Day.
Still to be decided, however, is the pitching staff. Counsell has made no announcements past Junior Guerra and Zach Davies starting the first two games, though Wily Peralta, Matt Garza and Jimmy Nelson are currently lined up to follow. The back half of the bullpen also remains in flux.
"We have a lot of balls in the air, internally and externally," Stearns said.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.