SAN DIEGO -- Ji-Man Choi knows his opening stint with the Brewers could be short, but he certainly made the most of Opening Day.Brewers GM David Stearns said he couldn't comment about the team's pending one-year agreement with left-handed reliever Dan Jennings, who must pass a physical before he can
SAN DIEGO -- Ji-Man Choi knows his opening stint with the Brewers could be short, but he certainly made the most of Opening Day.
Brewers GM David Stearns said he couldn't comment about the team's pending one-year agreement with left-handed reliever Dan Jennings, who must pass a physical before he can join the Brewers as soon as Friday at Petco Park. Choi, whose inclusion on the Opening Day roster was something of a surprise, and who has a Minor League option remaining, appeared the likeliest to be the odd man out, even after roping a pinch-hit double with two outs in the 12th inning and scoring the deciding run in the Brewers' 2-1 win over the Padres on Thursday.
"We had a meeting with [manager] Craig [Counsell] yesterday and he explained how we're all a team together," Choi said. "I just want to be a part of that team and be a piece of the puzzle."
The final decision went all the way to the eve of Opening Day, as Stearns and his team scoured the list of other teams' cuts for bullpen help and zeroed in on Jennings, the 30-year-old who was recently released by the Rays. Jennings would give Counsell a second left-handed reliever alongside Josh Hader while the veteran who was brought in to fill that role, Boone Logan, recovers from a triceps strain. The Brewers expect Logan to be sidelined into early May.
In a career-high 77 appearances last season with the White Sox and Rays, Jennings logged a 3.45 ERA and limited left-handed batters to a .628 OPS.
"At this time of year, there are always players available, so we were going to be on the lookout for someone regardless [of Logan's injury]," Stearns said. "I think every team has its own philosophy. I think some teams prefer to stick with the guys who have gone through camp. We've proven in the past that we're open, if there's the right fit, to bringing someone in at the end of camp. We think it's benefitted us in the past, and if we're able to accomplish something this year, we're hopeful that will benefit us as well."
Part of that benefit is cost. The Brewers have added a reliever at the end of Spring Training in each of the past two years for less than $1 million, and Carlos Torres and Jared Hughes each wound up playing meaningful roles last season. Jennings, who already is due about $600,000 from the Rays following his release, presumably would come at a similarly modest salary.
While the Brewers finalize that addition, Choi was making his general manager look prescient. In discussing the roster on Wednesday, Stearns said, "This is a rare opportunity where you get to set a roster for exactly one day, and we can set a roster that gives us a good chance to win for that one day."
And that's just what happened.
"Before the game, actually, Pat [Murphy, Milwaukee's bench coach] came and talked to me and said how I'm a Major League-caliber player," Choi said. "That uplifted me and gave me the confidence. Even when I came in to pinch-hit, I had that confidence to do well."
Aguilar waits turn, too
After news leaked late Wednesday that Choi had made the team, fans flocked to Jesus Aguilar's Twitter page to see whether it offered any clues about his fate. Two words -- "new tiger" -- caused a stir.
Yes, Aguilar had been traded to the Tigers, but not the Detroit Tigers. Over the winter in Venezuela, he was traded to the Tigres de Aragua, based in his hometown of Maracay.
Brewers Spanish language translator Carlos Brizuela alerted Aguilar to the confusion, and Aguilar edited his bio. "I didn't know until he called me," Aguilar said. "I was happy to go to Aragua. It's my home team. I'm from there, so I'm excited about it."
With the Brewers, Aguilar is currently one of four first basemen. Last year, Aguilar started against left-handers, but with Ryan Braun in the mix it was Braun who started Opening Day against the Padres' Clayton Richard. Another lefty, Joey Lucchesi, is slated to start Friday.
"We have a lot of people there, but I'm still here," Aguilar said. "I'm going to stay positive."
Eric Sogard battled a stiff neck at the end of exhibition season but declared himself "100 percent" for Opening Day. He's in a second-base timeshare with Jonathan Villar.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.