PHOENIX -- Yes, Mat Gamel is happy to be producing for the Brewers as the club's Cactus League leader in home runs and RBIs.
But his reasoning was a little surprising.
"If I don't produce, I don't think I make the team," Gamel said.
The Brewers were hoping to spare Gamel that sort of anxiety this spring, publicly anointing him Prince Fielder's heir as far back as November, two months before free agent Fielder signed with the Tigers. The idea was to eliminate the sort of "produce or go home" pressure that might have hung over Gamel in parts of the past four seasons.
Manager Ron Roenicke reiterated Saturday, after Gamel hit a grand slam and a solo home run against the Padres, that Gamel did not enter this spring needing to prove anything. That he did, Roenicke said, was a positive for the player.
"No matter what, I'm always critical of myself," Gamel said. "No one wants to come out here and not produce. I feel good right now. I'm ready to get the show on the road."
The key to his productive spring has been good health. Gamel's three previous Spring Trainings were derailed by injuries, costing him a shot at an Opening Day roster spot in 2010 and '11. To avoid a similar setback, Gamel worked over the winter with personal trainer Grady Zapata, shedding the excess weight he carried into the previous season.
Gamel also cut his hair, and outfielder and resident style expert Ryan Braun noted that Gamel was dressing better.
"He's a different guy this year," Roenicke said. "I think he's decided that he has to bear down to do this job right. He got himself in good shape coming in. I know the average still isn't good and where he wants it, but I like his at-bats. I like his hands, his setup. I like everything I see there."
Brewers made early call on cuts
PHOENIX -- The Giants had 35 players left in big league camp to the Brewers' 27 as of Sunday's Cactus League matchup. That Milwaukee officials made the bulk of their roster cuts well before Wednesday's 4 p.m. CT deadline to finalize 25-man rosters was by design, manager Ron Roenicke said.
All of the players left in Brewers camp know their situation. Infielders Brooks Conrad and Travis Ishikawa remain officially on the bubble, but both will make the cut if right fielder Corey Hart needs to open the season on the disabled list.
Left-hander Juan Perez remains active but will start the season at Triple-A Nashville.
"I think Doug [Melvin, Milwaukee's GM] and I both feel a certain way about letting players know as early as we can," Roenicke said. "And that's not said to dog somebody else who has these late decisions, because there's times when you have to make a late decision and it could come down to a few guys. Where we were this year, we felt like we didn't need to do that."
The possibility does remain of a late Spring Training acquisition. Last year, the Brewers traded for outfielder Nyjer Morgan four days before the season opener. Indeed, one team called Melvin on Sunday morning offering a player, Roenicke said.
"When something presents itself, I'm sure [Melvin] is always open-minded," Roenicke said.
Left-hander Chris Narveson's next turn in the rotation comes Thursday, an off-day before the start of the regular season, so he will remain in Arizona to pitch against hitters in extended spring training. Narveson will travel to Milwaukee on Thursday night and is expected to be in attendance for Friday afternoon's Opening Day festivities.
Infielder Cesar Izturis signed a Major League contract in clubhouse manager Tony Migliaccio's office Sunday morning but did not play the afternoon game against the Giants. He was hit on the right thigh by a pitch the day before and was a bit stiff, Roenicke said.