PHOENIX -- Brewers pitchers and catchers reported promisingly healthy Wednesday for the start of Spring Training, with only one of the 27 pitchers on the camp roster -- reliever LaTroy Hawkins -- on a restricted throwing program.Hawkins underwent right shoulder surgery late last August and is on schedule in his rehabilitation. He began throwing in early January and is still playing catch on flat ground but expects to be active for the start of the season. "I'm feeling pretty good," Hawkins said. "Roger [Caplinger, the Brewers' head athletic trainer] said I'll be able to go back-to-back days next week and then get on a mound. I didn't feel that good in December, so I shut it down for a month, and since I started playing catch around New Year's Day, I've been feeling great. That month off made it night and day." Now he's back on track to be at 100 percent strength for the Brewers' March 31 season opener in Cincinnati. "That's been the goal all along -- Opening Day," Hawkins said. "The doctor told me right away that he's not trying to get me ready for Feb. 16, he's trying to get me ready for Opening Day. That's been our mindset." The long list of healthy pitchers included free-agent acquisition Takashi Saito, who was left off the Braves' postseason roster last year because of a right shoulder injury. He arrived in camp earlier this week, threw a bullpen session on Sunday and expected to throw again Wednesday. "There is nothing wrong, but I know words can only get me so far," he said through a translator. "I have to prove that I can actually contribute to the team." Two others were missing from camp Wednesday. Closer John Axford was ill with what he described on Twitter as a 24-hour bout of food poisoning. Catcher Shawn Riggans, a non-roster invitee, was out with pneumonia.
Technology bridges clubhouse language barrier
PHOENIX -- Members of the Brewers' clubhouse crew have a new tool to communicate with Japanese pitcher Takashi Saito and some of the Spanish-speaking players in camp. They installed the Google Translate app on their iPhones and have been testing it this week.It works pretty well. "It does, although it translates things into a very formal way of speaking," said Kosuke Inaji, the translator for Japanese import Takashi Saito. "It's as if you would be speaking to the president. But it's correct -- it gets the point across." Veteran club employees Phil Rozewicz and Jason Shawger demonstrated the program to a reporter. Rozewicz spoke into his phone: "Can I help you with anything today?" The app repeated the phrase in Japanese. For most conversations with Saito, Brewers employees and reporters will turn to Inaji, 24, who also served as Saito's translator last season in Atlanta. Inaji was born in Japan and crew up in Orange County, Calif., and has put grad school on hold to spend a few years in the big leagues. Saito's contract calls for the Brewers to hire a translator, so Inaji is technically a club employee. Saito has picked up some English during his five years in the Major Leagues and has been meeting his teammates over the past few days. He said he picked the Brewers over offers from other teams partly because of the earlier acquisitions of starters Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum.
No rotation plans yet
PHOENIX -- Zack Greinke has a Cy Young Award to his credit, but the Brewers aren't ready to anoint him their Opening Day starter."You can be the first to ask," manager Ron Roenicke told a reporter Wednesday, when pitchers and catchers reported for Spring Training, "and I'll tell you I'm not sure." Roenicke is in a nice position with three 2010 Opening Day starters on his roster -- Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Yovani Gallardo. Only one of them will be honored with the March 31 start in Cincinnati. "It's a tough decision because sometimes the personalities of the pitchers [come into play]," Roenicke said. "Some really feel like [they] need to be that No. 1 guy. Other guys are fine with, 'I'm fine being under the shadows a little bit, and I'm going to win my 20 games right here.' Personalities really come into play." For now, there's flexibility in the schedule, and Roenicke wants pitchers to progress at a pace that's comfortable to them. The team opens Cactus League play with split-squad games against the Cubs and Giants on Feb. 28.
The Brewers plan to stretch out relievers Manny Parra and Kameron Loe this spring to pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen. Parra could be especially important, since he's an option to start should a member of the rotation suffer an injury. ... The Brewers have extended sales of their "4-Packs" of season tickets. For information, see the ticketing section of Brewers.com. ... Manager Ron Roenicke is planning an intrasquad game for Feb. 27, the day before Cactus League play begins.