PHOENIX -- Zack Greinke worried that the mechanical adjustment he's making this spring would improve his control but cost him some velocity. Instead he has seen improvements in both areas, another reason he's excited for the season to begin."I haven't got the exact velocity reports, but it's been the same to maybe a little bit better," Greinke said. "That's really good news." Greinke has simplified his delivery, eliminating the "turn" he added in 2007, when he was working out of the Royals' bullpen and seeking more velocity. That move eventually "got a little bit out of control" and hurt his command. Greinke figures that's the reason he had a 5.03 ERA from the 2010 All-Star break through the 2011 All-Star break -- "Not acceptable," he said.
When Greinke started tinkering with a change, his numbers improved dramatically during the second half of 2011 with the Brewers. When the simplified delivery felt good in early bullpen sessions in camp, Greinke committed to it.His control, especially of his offspeed pitches, is "without a doubt better," he said, and pitching feels easier on his arm. Greinke was supposed to continue the project on Sunday against the Rangers, but a dicey weather forecast prompted a change. Instead he threw 62 pitches over four innings of a morning simulated game, facing Brewers prospects Logan Schafer, Caleb Gindl, Eric Farris and Zelous Wheeler on an empty back field at Maryvale Baseball Park. It was the best of the imperfect options, and at least it kept Greinke on schedule. He's the only one of the Brewers' projected starters without an off-day built into his spring schedule, so he needed the work. There was one topic Greinke declined to address on Sunday: his contract, which is up after this season. The Brewers want to sign him to an extension, but he said he is "done talking about anything with the contract." He'd previously made it clear that he's open to hearing a Brewers' pitch. "I feel refreshed," he said. "Just in a good place, mentally and physically."
Next step for Marcum could be spring game
PHOENIX -- Shaun Marcum moved a big step closer to claiming his spot in the rotation on Sunday, when he threw a simulated game at chilly Maryvale Baseball Park.Marcum, slowed this spring by a stiff shoulder, alternated half-innings with fellow starter Zack Greinke, who was scratched from the "A" game against the Rangers because of a questionable weather forecast. Marcum threw 15 pitches in a simulated first inning, then threw 15 more in a second. "The good thing about it is, when he went and sat down and got back up to go throw, he got loose in eight pitches," pitching coach Rick Kranitz said. "Now it's just a matter of building him up." Asked whether Marcum's next step would be a Cactus League game, Kranitz said, "I think so, yeah. Obviously, we'll talk to everybody, but as far as I'm concerned, he's that close." If Marcum joins the spring rotation after Thursday's off-day, he would have time for three Cactus League starts. Kranitz and manager Ron Roenicke would then have to decide whether to slot Marcum into the Opening Day rotation or whether to give that outing to right-hander Marco Estrada and let Marcum make one more Minor League start. Kranitz said that decision can wait. "I'd rather have him ready when he's ready," he said. "I don't want to push him to that point. He's certainly in the right direction. ... He's a guy who doesn't need a lot in Spring Training. It's going to be an outing-by-outing-type thing." Said Roenicke of Marcum: "He's right on line with how we planned this out. Hopefully he can stay this way."
Pitching prospects sent down
PHOENIX -- The Brewers optioned pitching prospects Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta, Amaury Rivas and Mark Rogers to Triple-A Nashville on Sunday, giving the Sounds four-fifths of a very promising rotation.Peralta is MLB.com's top Brewers prospect. Rogers topped that list last year. Fiers shot through the system last season and is a bona fide Major League option should the Brewers need him in 2012. Rivas was the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2009. "That rotation in Nashville should be pretty darn good," Rogers said. Rogers' 2011 season was ruined by a 50-game drug suspension that he attributes to a tainted supplement. He will be ineligible for the first week of the Sounds' season. After the suspension was levied, Rogers underwent carpal tunnel surgery on both wrists to correct an issue that had been giving him trouble. "I feel great, now it's just a matter of building up pitch counts in games," he said. "This is the best my arm has felt in a really, really long time." Manager Ron Roenicke was particularly encouraged by Rogers, who consistently hit 94 mph in an outing against the Angels on Saturday. "He looks like he's on his way to returning to where he was two years ago," said Roenicke, referring to Rogers' stellar 2010 season, which ended in the Major Leagues. Rogers and Rivas will be out of options next spring.
In other camp cuts, the Brewers optioned infielders Eric Farris and Zelous Wheeler to Triple-A Nashville and reliever Santo Manzanillo to Double-A Huntsville, outrighted infielder Jeff Bianchi to Huntsville and returned catcher Patrick Arlis to Minor League camp.The moves came after officials met for about 45 minutes on Sunday morning to discuss roster decisions. It was the first of a series of meetings to come over the next two weeks.
Zach Braddock did not dress with the rest of the pitchers for Sunday morning's workout; manager Ron Roenicke simply said that his reliever was "not 100 percent." The issue is not injury-related, and Braddock, who missed much of last season to get treatment for a sleep disorder and other issues, is scheduled to pitch in Monday's game against the Rangers.