PHOENIX -- Yadiel Rivera's first telephone call was to his dad, Jorge, a retired policeman in Puerto Rico. Colin Walsh, meanwhile, was on the line with his mom.The Brewers' infielders had just been given the news every young player longs for: Rivera and Walsh will be on a Major League
PHOENIX -- Yadiel Rivera's first telephone call was to his dad, Jorge, a retired policeman in Puerto Rico. Colin Walsh, meanwhile, was on the line with his mom.
The Brewers' infielders had just been given the news every young player longs for: Rivera and Walsh will be on a Major League roster for Opening Day. They got the news on Tuesday morning when the Brewers set their infield by picking the versatile, slick-fielding Rivera and Rule 5 Draft pick Walsh over the other infield competitor remaining in camp, Hernan Perez.
"I was shipping my car today regardless, just hoping for the best," said Walsh, whose family will be on hand at Miller Park for Monday's opener against the Giants.
"It's a dream to go on the field for Opening Day," said Rivera, who will be the backup to starting shortstop Jonathan Villar. "They say your name and you're on the line with your teammates. That's the best feeling."
Rivera and Walsh join a growing list of Brewers in line for their first Major League Opening Day. Right fielder Domingo Santana, starter Taylor Jungmann, reliever Corey Knebel and outfielder Ramon Flores will experience the same thrill. Pitchers Ariel Pena and Tyler Cravy as well as outfielder Keon Broxton remain active in camp with the hope of making the cut themselves.
Walsh's tryout is not over. As a Rule 5 Draft pick, he must remain on the Brewers' active roster all season or be offered back to the A's. The 26-year-old, a second baseman known not for his glove but instead a knack for getting on base (.447 on-base percentage at Double-A last season), will serve as a backup to Scooter Gennett at second base and Aaron Hill at third.
"With Rule 5 picks, there's a reason they're not protected [by their former team], so there's something you have to find out about them," manager Craig Counsell said. "In Colin's case, we feel like there's something there for us to work with. I think his offensive approach has really continued what he showed in the Minor Leagues."
Counsell wouldn't commit to either Rivera, a right-handed hitter, or Walsh, a switch-hitter, as the primary platoon partner for left-handed-hitting Gennett.
The Brewers will continue working with Walsh on his defense.
"It's funny, because it's been a month, and I wouldn't say 'stressful,' but it's been a five-week tryout," Walsh said. "Now, the actual test begins. It's kind of funny that it's just the beginning of something. I will definitely take a moment to enjoy it, for sure, but it's not like I'm done now. Now, the 162 games start, and I want to prove I belong, so I can stay up there for years, not just one Opening Day."
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Meeting with Rivera and Walsh on Tuesday morning provided Counsell a boost.
"Yadiel just got a huge smile on his face, and Colin Walsh, I think, wanted to jump up and down and scream, but he didn't," Counsell said. "Those were good conversations."
According to Counsell, the Brewers will not make decisions on the final bullpen spot and two outfield spots before departing Arizona on Wednesday evening. Cravy and Pena are the in-house candidates for the bullpen job, while Broxton, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Alex Presley await their fates in the outfield. An outside acquisition is equally possible at each position as other teams pare their rosters ahead of Opening Day.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.