Crew pitchers battling for open spots on staff

Injuries may provide opportunities on Opening Day roster

March 21st, 2018

PHOENIX -- Jonie Woodruff is a nurse by trade and a planner by nature, says husband Brandon, a right-hander on the Brewers' bubble with one week to go before teams set their Opening Day rosters.

So while he waits for word on whether he will open the season in the Majors or Triple-A Colorado Springs, she has made living arrangements in both places.

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"We're prepared," Brandon said. "She likes to have everything ready before we get going. In this game, you never know what will happen, so you have to be ready."

A handful of players and their families were still in limbo as of Wednesday, when ill-timed injuries to rotation hopeful (left groin) and bullpen lock (left shoulder) sent a ripple effect through the rest of the pitching staff.

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Entering the day, three starting pitchers and six relievers were set, leaving one or two openings in each area. Now, the bullpen could have as many as three spots available, pending the severity of Logan's shoulder issue.

Miley had been vying for the rotation with , who started the Brewers' other split-squad game on Wednesday, plus Woodruff and . All but Woodruff could conceivably wind up in the bullpen, where other candidates include , , and .

Depth considerations are sure to come into play. Guerra, Suter, Woodruff and Williams all have Minor League options. Drake and Gallardo don't. Miley is a non-roster invitee with an out date built into his contract on Thursday, though the injury significantly complicated that matter. Hoover is also a non-roster invitee, but he doesn't have an "out" in his contract.

Step 1, GM David Stearns said, is assessing how much time Miley and Logan will miss. Then the Brewers can move on to their roster decisions.

"Honestly, you go day by day," Woodruff said before the injury bug bit. "We're not oblivious that it will probably come down to the end. It's going to be a tough couple of days when they have to make decisions. You want to be there Opening Day."

Guerra felt the same way. He was the Opening Day starter a year ago; now he finds himself fighting for a job.

"I'm giving everything possible I have," Guerra said after his start against the Rockies on Tuesday. "I'm healthy. That's the thing that's important right now. It's their decision."

Positivity for Pennington

The 2016 trade that sent to the Red Sox for plus prospects has already been a boon for the Brewers. Josh Pennington is hoping 2018 is the year it gets even better.

Pennington, 22, the lone pitcher among the four players sent to Milwaukee in the teams' Winter Meetings swap, is throwing bullpens in Minor League camp after being limited to 10 starts last season by early-season surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow and a late-season shoulder strain. The rehab was nothing new; the hard-throwing right-hander also missed significant time in 2014-15 as he recovered from Tommy John surgery.

"It's been a struggle because I want to be out there," Pennington said. "You don't come into the game thinking, 'I'm going to be rehabbing.' You want to show the organization you can move through levels.

"We'll see where I am at the end of Spring Training, but the way I feel right now, there's no reason that I should be missing a terrible amount of time. I'm hoping to get out of here as soon as possible."

Pennington logged a 2.97 ERA in 30 1/3 innings over nine starts for Class A Wisconsin last season, so he should be a candidate to see Class A Advanced Carolina this season.

Up next

Watch live on FOX Sports Wisconsin and MLB.TV as makes his final Cactus League start at 3:05 p.m. CT on Thursday when the Brewers take on the Royals at Maryvale Baseball Park. It will be Brewers fans' final chance to see the team on television before Opening Day.