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Milone expects adjustment period in bullpen

Brewers lefty will take on full-time relief role for first time
March 31, 2017

MILWAUKEE -- Of the players on the Brewers' Opening Day roster, only Ryan Braun, Neftali Feliz and Carlos Torres have more Major League service than left-hander Tommy Milone. And yet Milone is feeling a bit like a rookie as he begins a season in the bullpen for the first time."I

MILWAUKEE -- Of the players on the Brewers' Opening Day roster, only Ryan Braun, Neftali Feliz and Carlos Torres have more Major League service than left-hander Tommy Milone. And yet Milone is feeling a bit like a rookie as he begins a season in the bullpen for the first time.
"I have no idea [what to expect]," Milone said. "I've pitched out of the bullpen before, but never really as a full-time bullpen member. There is going to be a transition period."
The 30-year-old has started 118 of his 129 appearances in the Majors for the Nationals, A's and Twins. After signing a one-year deal with the Brewers, Milone competed for a spot in the starting rotation, but was assigned to a relief role instead.
His relatively even record against hitters suggests he is unlikely to be a lefty specialist. Milone has held left-handed hitters to a .743 OPS, versus .757 for right-handers.
On the other hand, Milone is the Brewers' lone lefty, and the opening homestand could present some tight spots. The Brewers start with four games against the Rockies, whose all-lefty outfield features All-Star Carlos Gonzalez. Then the Cubs come to town, with Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber swinging from the left side.
"You go into a tight ballgame, late in the game, it's a little different animal," Milone said.
Barnes makes bullpen cut
Brewers manager Craig Counsell on Friday said the three internal candidates in the running for two remaining bullpen spots are Tyler Cravy, Taylor Jungmann and Rob Scahill, all of whom have pitched well this spring. That meant -- barring a late-spring shakeup -- that Jacob Barnes has tentatively made the cut.
Barnes did not pitch well in Arizona, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 18 hits in eight innings. But he throws hard and was very good for the Brewers when the stats counted last season, posting a 2.70 ERA in his first 27 Major League appearances.

"I think that's where I'm at with it," Counsell said of regular-season performance outweighing a few tough weeks in Spring Training. "He hasn't pitched well at the end of Spring Training here. I don't see it as a ... his velocity is still very good. He's made some mistakes with his slider, but I feel like I've seen the Jacob Barnes of 2016 in glimpses. It just hasn't been consistent, and we have to make sure we get him back to consistent."
Lineup shuffle
Cousell committed to only two set spots in the starting lineup: Jonathan Villar leading off and Braun batting third. The rest of the batting order will be fluid, he said.
"Look, we have a lot of new players. We have a lot of players with less than 1,000 big league plate appearances," Counsell said. "I think to set things in stone -- I think we have to be a little flexible. I want to be flexible on how I approach this."
He added: "It's not the lineup [which is important] necessarily. Who you're giving plate appearances to, that's important."

Last call
• The Brewers formally placed pitcher Matt Garza (right groin strain) and catcher Andrew Susac (right trap tightness) on the 10-day disabled list Friday. Both moves were expected.

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.