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Vogt likely out Opening Day with shoulder strain

Catcher will 'slow everything down,' refrain from throwing
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

PHOENIX -- Jett Bandy has a clear path to the Brewers' Opening Day roster after a second opinion of catcher Stephen Vogt's balky throwing shoulder did not reveal any unexpected bad news, but did not yield any good news, either.

Vogt, who cut short a throwing session Monday and was sent for more tests, will refrain from throwing until his symptoms subside, according to manager Craig Counsell. With Opening Day two weeks from Thursday, the calendar is working against Vogt in his battle with Bandy to share playing time with primary Brewers catcher Manny Pina.

PHOENIX -- Jett Bandy has a clear path to the Brewers' Opening Day roster after a second opinion of catcher Stephen Vogt's balky throwing shoulder did not reveal any unexpected bad news, but did not yield any good news, either.

Vogt, who cut short a throwing session Monday and was sent for more tests, will refrain from throwing until his symptoms subside, according to manager Craig Counsell. With Opening Day two weeks from Thursday, the calendar is working against Vogt in his battle with Bandy to share playing time with primary Brewers catcher Manny Pina.

"We're basically going to have to slow everything down," Counsell said. "The diagnosis was the same -- it's a shoulder strain, or, I guess, a capsule strain, which is the same thing. We have to get him pain-free before he can start throwing."

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Asked about Vogt's chances to be healthy in time to make the team, Counsell said, "I don't think Opening Day is likely."

Wilkerson optioned
The race for two open spots in Milwaukee's rotation was further pared Wednesday when the team optioned right-hander Aaron Wilkerson to Minor League camp.

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That left four pitchers in the running: Left-handers Wade Miley and Brent Suter and right-handers Junior Guerra and Brandon Woodruff. Suter, Guerra and Woodruff are on the 40-man roster; Miley is not. Counsell has previously indicated that Suter has a "leg up" on an Opening Day roster spot, either as a starter or a reliever.

In the Minors
The Brewers' Minor League complex is a bit less crowded than usual this spring. A group of about 14 players, mostly 2017 Draft picks who came out of high school, were en route to the Dominican Republic on Wednesday to join some of Milwaukee's Latin American prospects for workouts at the team's academy there.

The players include Caden Lemons, the Brewers' No. 17 prospect per MLB Pipeline, and Je'Von Ward (No. 28).

"Basically, they'll be able to do the same thing they would do here," Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan said. "This way, you expose them to the culture, and they can get their work in."

Why send them so far from home? In part because space is so tight, pending the Maryvale Baseball Park reconstruction scheduled to begin in two weeks. But also because those players are ticketed for short-season affiliates, which don't begin play until June.

They will return on March 26 for the final week of Minor League camp.

One high-school pick from last year's Draft, Milwaukee's No. 9 prospect Tristen Lutz, was not sent to the Dominican because he has a chance to open the regular season at Class A Wisconsin.

'Love it'
Flanagan expressed strong support for the pace-of-play initiatives announced by Minor League Baseball on Wednesday, including a new rule that will place a runner at second base to start every extra inning across all levels of the Minors beginning this season.

Regulations were also added to reduce mound visits and to shorten the time between pitches at the Triple-A and Double-A levels.

"Big fan of all of it," Flanagan said.

Even the extra-inning rule?

"Love it," Flanagan said.

Flanagan was looking at the matter from a farm director's point of view, not a fan's. Extra-inning games produce a domino effect in Minor League systems because of what they do to pitching staffs, which are already taxed by the unpredictable needs of the big league club.

"People sometimes say, 'Ah, you're just saying 'health,'' but it's a true factor," Flanagan said. "You're developing pitching. … Obviously, the guys want to win, so we're trying to win the game, but the health comes first. Now, it's a plane flight [to get pitching help in town the next day] and your pitching is short. With six or seven Minor League clubs, it's tough to manage."

Up next
Suter will continue his bid for a roster spot when the Brewers travel to Surprise, Ariz., to play the Rangers on Thursday at 3:05 p.m. CT, which can be heard on an exclusive webcast on brewers.com.

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

Milwaukee Brewers, Stephen Vogt