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Davies declares himself ready for game action

MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

PHOENIX -- Brewers right-hander Zach Davies declared himself back on schedule Friday after clearing a pivotal bullpen session with no discomfort in a recently cranky left oblique.

Davies missed a Cactus League start this week as a precaution and received treatment for what the team called a mild strain. He felt better playing catch in recent days, but Friday morning's bullpen session was the first big test, and both Davies and pitching coach Derek Johnson said the right-hander passed it.

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PHOENIX -- Brewers right-hander Zach Davies declared himself back on schedule Friday after clearing a pivotal bullpen session with no discomfort in a recently cranky left oblique.

Davies missed a Cactus League start this week as a precaution and received treatment for what the team called a mild strain. He felt better playing catch in recent days, but Friday morning's bullpen session was the first big test, and both Davies and pitching coach Derek Johnson said the right-hander passed it.

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"I'm ready to go," Davies said. "I feel good. I feel ready for game action on Monday. I figured that was the way it was going to go. It was a little bit of a relief that I don't have to miss any more time, but just how it was progressing … it felt normal. I just had to go step by step."

Davies expects to face hitters on Monday, probably in the controlled setting of Minor League camp, before rejoining the Brewers' Cactus League rotation five days later. That would put him back on his original Spring Training schedule, Davies said.

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Manager Craig Counsell hasn't made any announcements about how the Brewers' starters will line up for the regular season. Only Davies, Chase Anderson and Jhoulys Chacin have spots locked up in the rotation.

Shaw renewed
Unable to agree to terms on his 2018 contract, the Brewers announced they have renewed reigning club MVP Travis Shaw's contract. Nine other players agreed to the team's terms, and the full 40-man roster is now signed for this season.

"It's a business. No hard feelings on my end, and I don't think there are any hard feelings on their end," said Shaw, who tied Eric Thames for the team lead with 31 home runs in 2017, while leading the club in RBIs, doubles, hits, extra-base hits and total bases.

Players in their pre-arbitration seasons have little or no leverage in negotiating salaries. The Brewers and many other clubs set such salaries with a non-negotiable formula that rewards big league performance, and in most cases, players agree. When they do not agree, a club can "renew" a player's contract at a salary of the club's choice, provided it is above the Major League minimum.

Shaw's agent, Joe Bick, said it was only the third time in 40 years of representing players that he took a renewal. He declined to disclose Shaw's salary figure. The Brewers don't release salary information.

"I wish their scale was better. I wish their formula was better. But it is what it is," Bick said. "For a player in Travis Shaw's position, the only way you can protest is take a renewal."

Shaw enters the season with two years and 88 days of Major League service, and is on track to be arbitration-eligible next winter. So far, there have been no talks about a multi-year deal.

First cuts
With Minor League camp opening in full this weekend, the Brewers sent out 11 players, mostly prospects, on Friday. They optioned pitchers Marcos Diplan, Adrian Houser, Jorge Lopez, Freddy Peralta, and Tyler Webb, infielder Mauricio Dubon and catcher Jacob Nottingham, and returned non-roster pitchers Corbin Burnes, Erik Davis, Luis Ortiz and Jon Perrin.

"For a large group of the guys today," Counsell said, "it was really about 'experience a big league Spring Training, put yourself around Major League players, see how they prepare, see how they work, start your preparation for the season, and now take it to your Minor League season and build on it, use it to make yourself a better player.' For a lot of those guys, to me, it's not a disappointing day. It's just a day where you start the rest of your season."

Guerra has option left
In a development right there in the media guide, and with implications in the race for the Brewers' other two starting rotation spots, general manager David Stearns confirmed Friday that Junior Guerra has a Minor League option remaining.

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Typically, players have only three Minor League options in their career, and Guerra was optioned by the White Sox in 2015 and by the Brewers in '16 and '17. But a small number of players, for various technical reasons, are granted a fourth option, and Guerra is one of them. He picked it up somewhere along a long professional road that included a PED suspension as a Mets Minor Leaguer and seasons abroad in Venezuela, Mexico and Italy.

Guerra's extra option could come into play as the Brewers make their Opening Day roster choices later this month. Stearns speaks often about the value of organizational depth.

Houser back on track
Pitching prospect Adrian Houser, whose return to big league camp from Tommy John surgery was delayed several weeks by a pre-Spring Training appendectomy, was upbeat Friday morning, a day after he dealt a scoreless inning against the D-backs.

It was his first Cactus League inning in two years.

"Definitely a lot has happened," Houser said. "A couple surgeries, but now I'm good to go. Basically, being back in camp, able to get out there on the field felt good. Especially being able to show them, 'Hey, I'm ready to go.'"

There are still "things to clean up," he said. Houser spiked a pair of fastballs on the way to walking a batter in his scoreless inning. He was flying open, and not getting proper extension -- normal Spring Training stuff.

That represents progress for Houser, who was among four prospects -- with Domingo Santana, Brett Phillips and Josh Hader -- acquired from the Astros in a July 2015 trade. All four have touched the big leagues, including Houser, who saw action that September, before injuring his elbow in 2016. Houser got back to the mound last year and finished with an encouraging stint in the Arizona Fall League.

Video: Counsell discusses Houser's role with the Brewers

"This is a guy we are happy to have back healthy," Counsell said. "He's going to start the season in the Minor Leagues, but is a guy that we could consider at some point, for sure. He's trying to put his name up to that level."

Up next
Brent Suter continues his bid for a spot in the Brewers' rotation when he starts against the Rockies on Saturday at Maryvale Baseball Park. The game will be televised on FS Wisconsin and MLB.tv, and will also air on the Brewers Radio Network and Gameday Audio.

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

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