PHOENIX -- The Brewers used Mat Gamel's final Minor League option when they shipped the infielder to Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday, ending a bid for an Opening Day roster spot that never really began.

Gamel missed the first two weeks of Cactus League games with a right rib-cage strain he suffered early in Spring Training. He suffered a similarly ill-timed injury in 2010, when a torn muscle behind his right shoulder cost him a chance to compete for a big-league job.

The 25-year-old is a career .302 hitter in the Minor Leagues. He will spend time at Triple-A for the fourth consecutive season. His option is good all year, meaning the Brewers can promote Gamel to the Majors and demote him to the Minors multiple times in 2011.

The tougher decision could come in 2012, when Gamel will be out of options, and potentially a key player for the Brewers if Prince Fielder departs via free agency. Gamel came up as a third baseman, but was tried at first base and the corner outfield spots last season. He will move around again at times in 2011 but will focus early in the season at first base, general manager Doug Melvin said.

Fielder sidelined by sinus infection

PHOENIX -- Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder and reliever Zack Braddock were both sent home Tuesday to begin a regimen of antibiotics for a sinus infection, the latest annoyances for a club that has had its share this spring.

For those scoring at home, Fielder is the eighth of the Brewers' nine pre-spring projected Opening Day starters to miss at least part of a Spring Training game with some sort of medical matter. The issues range from the serious (Zack Greinke's cracked rib, Jonathan Lucroy's fractured finger and Corey Hart's lingering rib-cage strain) to the minor (Rickie Weeks' groin, Yuniesky Betancourt's thigh, Ryan Braun's ribs, Carlos Gomez's back and now Fielder's illness).

And that list is not even counting closer John Axford's bout of food poisoning, Manny Parra's stiff back, LaTroy Hawkins' cautious road back from shoulder surgery and Braddock's illness, which cost the left-hander a scheduled appearance against the Padres.

Add the issues up, and they have prevented new manager Ron Roenicke from seeing his 2011 squad intact. At least Fielder's issue falls in the minor category.

"The antibiotics work really fast," said Roenicke, who hoped to have his cleanup hitter back in the lineup as early as Thursday. The Brewers' lone off-day of the spring conveniently falls on Wednesday.

Skipper says Brewers offense on track

PHOENIX -- It has not exactly been a smooth Spring Training for new Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, but here's one thing he was feeling good about Tuesday morning: An offense that led the Majors with a .335 Spring Training batting average, .389 on-base percentage and .508 slugging percentage.

That was before a 7-0 win over the Padres that featured 13 more hits, including three by catcher George Kottaras and two apiece from regulars Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun and Yuniesky Betancourt.

"It's been what I thought it would be," Roenicke said. "It's been really good."

He's been impressed with his hitters' ability to drive the ball, their patience at the plate and their aggressiveness on the bases.

Roenicke figures the latter two traits will help the Brewers avoid the sort of wild offensive swings that characterized their 2010 season. Take the six-game stretch in late-April when the same group of hitters outscored the Pirates, 36-1, and then returned to Miller Park to be outscored by the Cubs, 25-4.

Entering Tuesday's games, the Brewers ranked fifth with 23 stolen bases and were tied for eighth -- right in the middle of the 16-team National League pack -- with 72 walks.

"The teams that walk a lot -- the Yankees, for instance -- they score in a lot more innings," Roenicke said. "They don't have the long droughts."

Roster decisions on tap for Brewers

PHOENIX -- Brewers officials gathered in a conference room at Maryvale Baseball Park following Monday's rainout for another roster debate. With the March 30 deadline to set a 25-man roster quickly approaching, those discussions have become more serious, manager Ron Roencike said.

"They've changed," Roenicke explained.

General manager Doug Melvin and Co. have a board with players' names, and they piece together possible roster combinations. Partly because of some spring injuries, the club faces decisions in nearly every area -- several openings in the bullpen, probably two in the outfield with Corey Hart out and one backup infield slot. The Brewers will likely start the year with four starting pitchers on the roster and eight relievers, but will have to send down a bullpen arm by April 6 to bring in a fifth starter.

The conversations also include talk of the players who may miss the cut. If regular catcher Jonathan Lucroy is ready for Opening Day, for example, backup candidates George Kottaras and Wil Nieves are both out of Minor League options. Ditto for an outfielder like Brandon Boggs, who is battling Chris Dickerson and Jeremy Reed for a job.

"Doug is looking at some things there," Roenicke said.

Last Call

The Brewers may continue pitching reliever LaTroy Hawkins in Minor League games, in order to limit the time he would miss in the event that he begins the regular season on the 15-day disabled list. Hawkins is working back from last year's shoulder surgery, and if he is deemed unready to pitch on Opening Day (March 31), the Brewers could backdate his DL stint to Tuesday and Hawkins could be activated on April 6. But if he makes appearances in a big-league spring game (the next outing is scheduled for Thursday) and is deemed unready, his DL assignment could be backdated only to the day after he last pitched, pushing Hawkins' regular-season eligibility deeper into April.