Notes: Things evening out for Capuano
Veteran Cassidy retires; Villanueva corrects mechanical flaw
PHOENIX -- Chris Capuano rolled up his shirtsleeves and showed why this wasn't any old offseason.
His left biceps looks like you would expect for a Major League left-hander, especially one who pays as much attention to strength and fitness as Capuano. His right biceps is considerably smaller, as if it belongs to one of the guys up in the press box.
Capuano underwent major offseason surgery to repair the labrum in his right, non-throwing shoulder. He had been playing with a partial tear for years, but suffered a further injury diving for a batted ball in his next-to-last appearance of 2007 and needed 12 anchors to hold down the labrum.
He stayed in shape during the offseason by focusing on lower-body workouts and one-sided upper-body work.
"I couldn't even flex my biceps for 2 or 2 1/2 months," Capuano said. "I definitely had a little lopsided effect going there. I'm just now starting to get some size back in that right side. It was really skinny."
Capuano has worked on bunting and "slashing" in batting practice but is not being allowed to hit. He is otherwise on track to start the season and made his Spring Training debut on Sunday against the Angels at Maryvale Baseball Park, allowing two runs in two innings of work but getting the decision in a 4-2 Brewers win.
That in itself was a bit of a milestone. The team lost the final 22 games in which Capuano pitched last season, though 10 of those losses belonged to Brewers relievers. He at times pitched well during the frustrating streak, but went 0-12 with a 6.08 ERA and eventually lost his spot in the starting rotation.
On Sunday, Capuano pitched a scoreless third inning but was touched for two runs on three hits in the fourth. He called it one of his worst days so far this spring, but was happy with the result.
"Probably about half my pitches felt real good coming out of my hand," he said. "The other half felt like I was cutting the ball off a little bit. So I have some stuff to work on. It was good to get out there and compete again."
End of the line: A day after taking a loss against the Rockies, right-hander Scott Cassidy walked into Yost's office on Sunday morning and announced his retirement.
A non-roster invitee to Brewers camp, Cassidy surrendered four earned runs in 1 1/3 innings over two appearances. Opponents batted .556 against him in that limited time.
"I guess he struggled last year ... and you know when you're not having fun," Yost said. "He said, 'You know what? I don't want to hate this game. I love this game, and I want to leave loving it. I don't want to leave hating it.' "
Cassidy, 32, pitched parts of 10 professional seasons in the Toronto, Boston and San Diego systems before signing a Minor League contract with Milwaukee in December. He was 8-9 with a 4.88 ERA in 111 big league games and had a fine year for San Diego in 2006, posting a 2.53 ERA in 42 relief appearances.
Nice start: Righty Carlos Villanueva preceded Capuano in Sunday's game and worked two strong innings, allowing only one hit. Villanueva said he recently found a mechanical fix that has improved his feel for his pitches.
"I tweaked a couple of things in my mechanics and the results were good," said Villanueva, who, like Capuano, is running for a spot in the starting rotation. "There is room for improvement, but it felt very good.
"My last [batting practice], my last bullpen [session] and the intrasquad game, I just didn't feel right. I didn't feel my command was there. I can't live on 50-50 command."
The fix was more about rhythm than throwing mechanics, Villanueva said. He pauses slightly during his delivery.
"It's like, 'Why didn't you fix this before?' " Villanueva said. "Sometimes, when it's a small thing like this, you don't realize what you're doing wrong."
Swing away: Yost said he has agreed to utilize the designated hitter rule through next weekend's games regardless of the location.
"I'd rather have somebody else get four [at-bats] than a pitcher get one," Yost said. Pitchers are getting their bunting practice in the morning workouts.
Up next: Right-hander Jeff Suppan is the scheduled Milwaukee starter for Monday's game against the Padres at Maryvale Baseball Park. The Brewers will also play a "B" game against San Diego earlier in the day, so Yost will be a bit strapped for pitching. He needs to fill two innings after Suppan, and also needs to find a replacement for Cassidy, who was scheduled to work an inning.
Closer Eric Gagne will start the morning game so he can attend his daughter's recital in the afternoon.
"He can get his work in the B game," Yost said. "He can accomplish being a professional player and a dad, all in the same day."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.