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After strong spring, Hiura sent to Minors camp

Veteran reliever Frieri released; Vogt to begin season on 10-day DL
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

PHOENIX -- Keston Hiura, the ninth overall pick in last year's Draft, capped his first big league camp with two more hits in Sunday's 7-3 win over the Dodgers before the Brewers returned him to Minor League camp along with right-hander Michael Brady.

Hiura slashed .433/.452/.567 in 31 Cactus League plate appearances.

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PHOENIX -- Keston Hiura, the ninth overall pick in last year's Draft, capped his first big league camp with two more hits in Sunday's 7-3 win over the Dodgers before the Brewers returned him to Minor League camp along with right-hander Michael Brady.

Hiura slashed .433/.452/.567 in 31 Cactus League plate appearances.

View Full Game Coverage

"I feel good right now," Hiura said. "I've had a great time learning more about the players and the organization ... and what it takes to be a big leaguer one day."

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An advanced hitter out of UC Irvine, Hiura will most likely begin the regular season in Class A Advanced Carolina, but the Brewers plan to push him. He lasted as long as he did in big league camp in part because the Brewers had a need in the infield, said manager Craig Counsell, who conceded that Hiura's performance didn't hurt.

"He's had a really good spring," Counsell said. "The point for him was really to observe, but he also played very well -- not only hit well but played a good second base. He had a great camp, a great experience, and the trick for him right now is to go over there and realize that this is something to build on. Build on this."

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Did Hiura last longer than he expected in the big league clubhouse?

"I didn't know, really, how it worked," Hiura said. "It pretty much was, 'Come here until they tell you to go back the other way.'"

Frieri released
The Brewers on Sunday released veteran reliever Ernesto Frieri, who left a positive mark on younger pitchers in big league camp but did not perform on the mound, scuttling his bid to make the team as a non-roster invitee.

"I didn't pitch good. I'm honest to myself," Frieri said. "I'm going to call my agent, and hopefully I get a chance somewhere else. I have a family to support, so I have to do something. ... I'm going to keep trying. I won't quit baseball."

Frieri, 32 and best known for his run as the Angels' closer from 2012-14, posted a 7.94 ERA and a whopping 3.18 WHIP in eight Cactus League appearances for the Brewers. The last was on Saturday in the ninth inning of a 4-3 win over the Dodgers, when he loaded the bases on a double and a pair of walks, struck out the next batter and then was lifted from the game.

Frieri said he feels healthy. He simply was not producing.

"Like I said, I'm honest. I didn't show any signs that I was getting better," he said.

"It was just a struggle for him this spring," Counsell said. "Just in talking to him, he knows it was a struggle. He struggled throwing strikes, more than anything. That was the big issue. This is a guy who's had a lot of success, and he had a really good [Minor League] year last year that made us interested in signing him. He says he feels good, but he just wasn't throwing enough strikes."

Video: Counsell comments on Frieri getting released

Injury update
Catcher Stephen Vogt will begin the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, club officials said, ending speculation that the Brewers might attempt to release him to avoid paying his full $3.065 million salary in 2018.

Vogt is in the middle of a two-to-four-week shutdown from throwing because of a strained right shoulder. At the moment, he and starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson (shoulder) are the only two players expected to begin the season on the Major League DL.

Video: Counsell provides an update on Vogt's injury

"Frankly, we want him here," general manager David Stearns said. "Stephen brings a lot to this team. Part of it is what he does on the field, and part of it is what he does in the clubhouse and the type of presence he has become here."

Last call
• The Brewers have signed former closer Jim Henderson to a Minor League contract with a "player/coach" role in mind. The idea is for Henderson, who pitched parts of three years in Milwaukee -- including a 28-save season in 2013 -- to mentor pitching prospects and perhaps add some scouting to his duties down the road.

"He can be an asset as a coach, help the kids around the complex," Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan said. "He's a sharp guy. How better to relate to a player than with his background?"

• The Brewers are nearing decision time on non-roster invitee Wade Miley, the left-handed rotation candidate who has an "out" in his contract on Thursday. If the Brewers do not inform Miley by that day he's made the team, he can ask for his release. The team would then have 48 hours to either grant that release, or change course and add him to the roster.

Brandon Woodruff got his work in a Minor League game on Sunday, but don't read anything into that, said Counsell, as he has not eliminated Woodruff from the race for the big league rotation.

Up next
After their final Spring Training off-day on Monday, the Brewers begin the home stretch on Tuesday in Scottsdale, Ariz., against the Rockies. Rotation hopeful Junior Guerra is scheduled to start the 3:10 p.m. CT game, which will air on an exclusive MLB.com audio webcast.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Ernesto Frieri, Keston Hiura