Brewers ink Izturis, Perez to Minors contracts
Shortstop, reliever could compete for spots this spring
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers added candidates Wednesday for what could prove to be their two most intriguing Spring Training competitions, announcing Minor League deals with shortstop Cesar Izturis and left-handed reliever Juan Perez that came with invitations to big league Spring Training camp.
Both could get a shot, considering the Brewers need a backup for shortstop Alex Gonzalez and have question marks in their left-handed relief corps.Izturis, 32 in February, won't win any batting titles, but he is a capable defender who has appeared almost exclusively at shortstop during an 11-year Major League career with the Dodgers, Orioles, Cubs, Pirates, Cardinals and Blue Jays. Injuries limited him to 18 games with Baltimore in 2011.
Izturis won a Gold Glove with the Dodgers in 2004 and was an All-Star in 2005, but in recent seasons has done little with the bat. Izturis owns the lowest slugging percentage (.322) of any active player with at least 3,000 plate appearances. He's hit 15 home runs in his career.The Brewers don't have any shortstops besides Gonzalez on the 40-man roster. Second-base prospect Eric Farris briefly tried shortstop at Triple-A Nashville last season, but is not viewed as a good option there. Perez is 33 and has spent most of his 12-year professional career in the Minor Leagues. He's made 32 appearances in the Majors over parts of three seasons -- 2006-07 with the Pirates and eight games with the Phillies in 2011. He spent most of 2011 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, posting a 5.70 ERA in 36 games. But Perez could get a look from the Brewers, who did not have any left-handers in the bullpen during the second half of 2011. The club has two lefty relievers on the 40-man roster, both with question marks. Zach Braddock is 24 and very talented, but missed much of the 2011 season while getting treatment for a sleep disorder and other personal issues. Manny Parra also owns a power arm, but lost all of 2011 to injuries and will be coming back from surgery to replace a screw in his elbow. He's also expensive; Parra is arbitration-eligible for the second time after earning $1.2 million last season. Also on Wednesday, the Brewers added three of their own Minor Leaguers to the list of non-roster invitees to big league camp: Pitchers Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley and catcher Anderson De La Rosa. Jungmann and Bradley were Milwaukee's first-round picks in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Wednesday's five additions brought to eight the number of nonroster players on Milwaukee's camp roster. The Brewers had already invited first baseman Travis Ishikawa, catcher Mike Rivera and infielder Edwin Maysonet.