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Veteran starter Tomlin released by Brewers

Crew's top prospects will start in Minors; Fields won't see spring action
@AdamMcCalvy
March 20, 2019

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Brewers released veteran right-hander Josh Tomlin from his Minor League contract on Wednesday, but that didn’t guarantee the end of his tenure with the team. Tomlin had a clause in his contract that the Brewers had to advise him of his Opening Day chances this week,

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Brewers released veteran right-hander Josh Tomlin from his Minor League contract on Wednesday, but that didn’t guarantee the end of his tenure with the team.

Tomlin had a clause in his contract that the Brewers had to advise him of his Opening Day chances this week, ahead of a separate deadline Saturday on which clubs must decide on veteran players in camps as non-roster invitees. Brewers officials told Tomlin they don’t have a spot in the rotation, so he took his release on Wednesday morning and was free to seek a big league job elsewhere.

What if that opportunity isn’t out there?

“If not, then you set a course and go to Triple-A, and go from there,” Tomlin said Wednesday. “This is a really good team, something I want to be a part of. This team has a chance to win the World Series. And you saw how they used pitchers last year.

“If a different situation doesn’t present itself, then, yeah, I would definitely be open to staying here.”

Tomlin had a 4.80 ERA in five spring appearances for the Brewers, including three starts. But one bad first inning against the Reds accounted for six of the eight earned runs Tomlin allowed in Cactus League games. Aside from that frame, Tomlin limited opponents to two earned runs in 14 innings.

“You try to forget about it, but it’s hard to forget about when you’re looking for results in spring,” he said. “Other than that inning, I feel like I’ve adapted to [some changes he instituted during the offseason] and done a good job with it.

“I knew this was going to be a tough team to crack. I get that. That’s part of the good things about coming here. I don’t think of it as a competition between other players, I think of it as a competition with yourself to make a really good club. I think competition brings out the best in every player and makes you ready for the season when it comes.”

Meeting Machado
The Brewers' 10-7 win over the Padres at Peoria Sports Complex offered a preview of what the next 10 years could be like when these teams meet in front of a pro-Brewers crowd. The many Milwaukee fans in the stands booed lustily when Manny Machado stepped to the plate in the first inning for his first at-bat against a Brewers pitcher since becoming public enemy No. 1 during last year’s National League Championship Series, when he played for the Dodgers.

Machado answered with a two-run home run off Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff, but Woodruff scored payback when he induced a deep fly out in the third inning and struck out Machado in the sixth.

Woodruff, who has yet to be assured of a spot in the starting rotation, retired 13 of the next 14 batters after Machado’s homer and departed with two outs in the sixth. Woodruff was charged with three earned runs on four hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.

"Honestly, I didn't think anything about it [going into the game]," Woodruff said. "Obviously, they did that in the playoffs. The fans are going to be a little rowdy, I guess, at all times. I really wasn't expecting that when he came up. It's all fun.

"I don't think Manny is going to be too worried about that. The fans, they like to get in the players' heads, so I'm assuming they'll keep that going for a while."

Top prospects advised
The Brewers informed three of their top prospects -- Keston Hiura, Corey Ray and Lucas Erceg -- that they will not make the Opening Day roster. But they will remain in big league camp, and at least Ray will travel with the Brewers to Montreal next week for a pair of exhibition games against the Blue Jays.

The news was not a surprise for any of those players, who could wind up together in prospect-packed Triple-A San Antonio to begin the season.

“I think they all had good camps. That was the message for all of them,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “They all received a lot of playing time. For all three of them, putting at-bats under their belts is one of the most important things in their development.”

Fields won’t see field
Josh Fields, the veteran reliever who signed a Minor League deal with Milwaukee that included an invitation to the remainder of big league camp, won’t pitch in the Cactus League, Counsell said. Fields’ last appearance for the Dodgers was March 3, a few days before he was designated for assignment.

“He’s basically been off for two weeks,” Counsell said. “The goal is to get him on a mound before we leave, in a bullpen.”

Fields will begin the season at San Antonio.

He said it
“I’m ready to break out of this cage. Trust me. It’s been a long time coming. Each day I get a little more anxious. It’s going to be really fun when I do get back up to Milwaukee.” -- Jimmy Nelson, who is slated to throw four innings and about 60 pitches in a Minor League game Thursday as he continues his comeback from shoulder surgery

Up next
Corbin Burnes will make the start and Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun will tentatively occupy the top three spots in the Brewers' lineup for a 3:05 p.m. CT game against the Dodgers on Thursday at American Family Fields of Phoenix. The contest will air on MLB.TV and FOX Sports Wisconsin, as well as the Brewers Radio Network.

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