PHOENIX -- The reporter was still 10 feet away from Jeff Bianchi's locker when the Brewers infielder cracked a smile."Let me guess," he said. Yep, the topic was Bianchi's baserunning blooper at Scottsdale Stadium on Monday night. Bianchi was at second base in the top of the seventh inning when the Giants' left fielder botched a routine fly ball. Bianchi scored, but not before taking a pair of tumbles between third base and home. And wouldn't you know it? The game was televised nationally on MLB Network. He got another mouthful of dirt in the bottom of the ninth, when Bianchi completed a game-ending rundown with a diving tag near first base. "I haven't played in a while, so it was nice to get out there getting dirty again," Bianchi said. He got some grief in the Brewers clubhouse on Tuesday morning from reliever Tim Dillard, who walked over to say hello and faked a stumble into Bianchi's arms. The team's morning meeting included a reference to Ryan Braun's similar stumble on an inside-the-park home run that wasn't, and manager Ron Roenicke was quick to credit Bianchi for managing to score the run. "It's all good and fun," Bianchi said. "Something to laugh about. I wouldn't mind seeing it, to be honest with you." Most of this camp has been serious business for the 25-year-old, who was claimed off waivers from the Cubs in January to help address Milwaukee's relatively thin middle infield ranks. Bianchi has played his entire career with the Royals, missing all of 2010 following Tommy John elbow surgery. The Cubs claimed him off waivers on Dec. 9 but later needed to free a spot on the 40-man roster, making Bianchi available to the rival Brewers. Milwaukee is somewhat short of shortstop prospects. "I try not to get too in-depth about who's here, who's there -- the political aspect of it," Bianchi said. "I'm excited to be here. I've got a jersey on and I've found out in the last few weeks that this is a great organization. I'm looking forward to be at the big league level here at some point."
Braun unconcerned with hitless spring start
PHOENIX -- Ryan Braun struck out and fouled out in his second Spring Training game on Tuesday and figures he has better days ahead of him."I can only head in one direction from here," Braun quipped after exiting the Brewers-A's game at Maryvale Baseball Park. Braun struck out in both trips to the plate against the Giants on Sunday, then whiffed again against A's left-hander Tom Milone on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. He snapped his strikeout streak in the fourth inning with a foul pop to the first baseman. It's too early to call it a spring slump.
"The overwhelming odds," Braun said with a smile, "are that I'm going to put one in fair territory one of these days." That's probably true, considering he's the reigning National League MVP. Braun made offseason headlines by successfully appealing a drug suspension but said that issue did not impact his usual array of winter workouts and hitting. His quiet start is atypical; Braun usually needs only a handful of Spring Training at-bats to feel ready for Opening Day.He is on an every-other-day spring schedule for now and will be off Wednesday when the Brewers go to Glendale, Ariz., to face the White Sox. Braun will go for that first Cactus League hit on Thursday against Mike Leake and the Reds. Later in camp, Braun will play more regularly. He's aiming for 30-40 Arizona at-bats, but the plan could change based on feel. "The timing and rhythm are starting to come," Braun said. "The goal is just to see different pitches, see different pitchers and try to see the ball."
Hart's surgery successful, out 3-4 weeks
PHOENIX -- Brewers right fielder Corey Hart had successful surgery Tuesday morning to repair torn cartilage in his right knee, and club officials left in place the 3-4 week timetable for his recovery.That qualified as good news for the Brewers, who were waiting for word from Drs. Evan Lederman and William Raasch as to the extent of damage to Hart's meniscus. That the rehabilitation timetable remained the same was an indication that the arthroscopic surgery went just as planned. Hart said he would be back at Maryvale Baseball Park on Wednesday morning to begin rehab. He would not rule out Opening Day, but a more realistic timetable has Hart beginning to take at-bats in late March and beginning the regular season on the Brewers' disabled list. Such an assignment could be backdated to March 26, allowing Hart to return as early as the team's second series of the season. "I know what I need to do to get ready," Hart said Monday, "and I'll find a way to get back."
Marcum declines comment on shoulder
PHOENIX -- Brewers starter Shaun Marcum declined a request to discuss his sore right shoulder on Tuesday morning and later sent word through a team spokesperson that he did not want address what he considers a minor issue.Marcum, a free agent after this season, was examined by head team physician William Raasch on Monday and has been shut down from throwing on Tuesday and Wednesday, an indication that he may have received a cortisone shot to address inflammation in his shoulder. Marcum will be re-evaluated Thursday, and will not be able to make his first Cactus League start on Saturday as originally planned. But Marcum and the Brewers are billing the soreness as only a minor bother, pointing out that Marcum had a similarly abbreviated Spring Training last year and was the team's best early-season pitcher, going 6-1 with a 2.37 ERA over his first 10 starts. At the moment, the Brewers plan for Marcum to be part of the season-opening starting rotation. If that changes, manager Ron Roenicke identified three candidates who will be stretched out as starters in Major League camp: Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers and Wily Peralta. Estrada would be in the Brewers' bullpen if he's not needed as a starter, and Fiers could get a look for the bullpen, too, according to Roenicke. Peralta would start at Triple-A Nashville if he does not make the Brewers' cut. Estrada is currently scheduled for two Cactus League starts and Fiers will make at least one. "Those three, we think, are ready to pitch in the big leagues," Roenicke said. "And if something happens in the season, that's who we're looking at."
Hart's injury could help nonroster invitee Travis Ishikawa make the Opening Day cut as a hybrid player. Ishikawa, who belted a long home run in Monday's win against the Giants, is an excellent defensive first baseman. He has also played the outfield and will do so in this camp, Roenicke said. Other candidates to be the backup first baseman are veteran Brooks Conrad and prospect Taylor Green.