PHOENIX -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke says reliever Frankie De La Cruz is in the running for a bullpen spot with the big league club, but wants that to serve as an encouraging motivator rather than deterring pressure.
De La Cruz took the decision in Milwaukee's 8-6 loss to the A's on Tuesday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, allowing two hits, four runs (three earned) and two walks without retiring a batter.
"He's in the mix," Roenicke said. "I don't know if he's putting pressure on himself to try to make the team. He's not throwing the same. He came out yesterday and his command was off. Sometimes, when you're trying a bit too hard, you don't relax and make your pitches."
The 28-year-old right-hander signed a Minor League contract with the Brewers prior to the 2010 season, but did not throw in the Major Leagues that year. He threw well in 11 appearances last year -- a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings of work -- and the Milwaukee skipper is hoping to see De La Cruz seize the opportunity in front of him and contribute for the entire 2012 campaign.
"Some guys handle that really well," Roenicke said of the pressure of competing for a spot. "Other guys' emotions take over too much, and physically you're not able to perform in that same rhythm that you need to have. But some guys do really well with that when they have the challenge in front of them, and have a little bit of pressure. I don't know if it's a personality thing or what, but some guys react really well that way."
Wolf very pleased with third spring outing
MESA, Ariz. -- Brewers lefty Randy Wolf says he typically doesn't pay attention to the stats or results in Spring Training. That is, unless it allows him to avoid the "kiss of death."
Wolf pitched well through his first three innings on Wednesday before hitting a few road bumps in the fourth against the Cubs, when he surrendered back-to-back doubles to start the frame, and ended up allowing two runs. It's OK though, he says, because he's gotten a couple out of the way.
"I don't wanna do that," Wolf said of a spotless spring, which went out the window on Wednesday (he had thrown 4 2/3 scoreless innings entering the game). "No. It's the kiss of death. You wanna get some runs out of the way. "
All kidding aside, Wolf said he felt sharp in his third outing of the spring, even when the Cubs hit him hard in the fourth.
"Even when the results are good, I don't always pay attention to the results," Wolf said. "Even the balls they hit were on the side of the plate I wanted. They were just a little bit up."
The southpaw struck out three in the first three innings, allowing just a single and a walk. But Starlin Castro, Ian Stewart and Jeff Baker led off the fourth with consecutive hits before Wolf got out of it.
"His pitches, really located them well," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "His speeds were great -- slow curveballs, threw some nice cutters, real nice. I'm seeing really good rhythm. I have in all of his outings so far, so it's very encouraging."
Schafer continues to impress Roenicke
PHOENIX -- With all the vibrant personalities in the Brewers' clubhouse, there's one young player manager Ron Roenicke continues to enjoy watching on a daily basis: outfielder Logan Schafer.
Schafer, who has the seemingly unfortunate luck of being a talented center fielder on a team with a wealth of them, went 3-for-4 with two runs scored in Milwaukee's loss to the A's on Tuesday, making a couple more highlight-reel plays in left field.
"He's been unbelievable, everything he's done," Roenicke said. "Everything is working for him. It is fun to watch."
Nyjer Morgan and Carlos Gomez are both established players who seem to have a hold on the center field position, but Schafer continues to make it hard for the Brewers to look past him. The 25-year-old -- Milwaukee's No. 7 prospect, according to MLB.com's 2012 Prospect Watch -- appeared in eight games for the Brewers last season, going 1-for-3 with a walk in five plate appearances. He overcame a thumb injury early last season, and also an injury-riddled 2010, to hit .315 with a .824 OPS in the Minors last year.
"In baseball, you have 5-600 at-bats a year, and you're gonna be the player you're going to be," Schafer said. "When it comes to spring and trying to show the coaching staff what you have, if you think too much into that, you can put too much stress on yourself. I just go out there and simplify the game -- see pitches in the zone and try to put good swings on it."
Schafer said he's tweaked his approach this spring, focusing on his timing, while working on the tee to let the ball come to him. He says he's making a concerted effort to swing at better pitches, and it's allowed him to find a groove early on.
He's also been the beneficiary of counsel from Gomez and Morgan, whom Schafer says have been helpful with everything from tracking fly balls to working good counts at the plate.
"It's incredible," Schafer said. "Those guys have spent years in the big leagues, they know how to approach Spring Training, how to get their bodies right. They're more than willing to help me out in every aspect of the game. ... It's so much fun learning from those guys and trying to learn by seeing how they go about their business. There's a lot of different aspects of the game that I try to pull and make a part of my game. It's a really good working relationship."
Brewers reliever Juan Perez was released from Maryvale Hospital on Tuesday night after being hospitalized with a partially collapsed left lung. He was at the ballpark on Wednesday, but will not participate in any baseball-related activity for at least seven days.
Neither Ryan Braun nor Aramis Ramirez made the trip to Mesa for Milwaukee's game against the Cubs on Wednesday, and neither has made the trip for an away game yet this spring. Manager Ron Roenicke said it's simply because he tries to play them just every other day, and that's how the scheduled has fallen. "These trips aren't far enough to worry about where we're going," Roenicke said. "They're basically all close enough that I don't worry about that."
Roenicke said Ramirez will start to play every day by the last week of Spring Training, and Braun's regimen depends on how well he's swinging the bat.
"He's seeing the ball a little better every day, I think, and that's important for him, with what he does," Roenicke said of the 2011 NL MVP.
Reliever Brandon Kintzler, who was shut down on Friday after experiencing pain in his throwing arm, will have a nerve conduction test performed to make sure there is no additional pressure on his nerves that inhibits him from being able to throw.
There was a large heap of children's toys in the Brewers clubhouse on Wednesday, for a toy drive to benefit a church near Maryvale Baseball Park. "It's a fun thing for the guys, and we know where it's going afterwards," Roenicke said.