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03/16/09 8:11 PM ET
Looper survives successful scrimmage
Brewers righty hit by line drive, but on track for home opener
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- The Brewers' official report on Braden Looper's appearance in a Minor League intrasquad scrimmage was short and sweet. It read: "Two innings, 30 pitches, no issues."
No issues, unless you count the line drive off the back of his head.Looper was smacked near his right ear during his first inning of work on Monday at Maryvale Baseball Park. He survived that blow unscathed, and, after a mound visit with members of the athletic training staff, continued his first game action since a big league intrasquad game on Feb. 24. He'd been sidelined since then by a strained muscle at the back of his rib cage. That line drive, off the bat of Minor League catcher Carlos Corporan, was a nice little wakeup call. "It just kind of glanced, I guess," Looper said. "I've got a little knot, but it's not bad. I kept going, obviously." Looper was supposed to make his Cactus League debut on Feb. 28, but was scratched when he alerted medical staffers to his strained rib cage. Now he's back on track for the start of the regular season, and appears slotted to start the Brewers' April 10 home opener against the Chicago Cubs. That is, if he can avoid any more body blows. "Usually, you would think getting hit in the head would slow a pitcher down," Brewers head pro scout Dick Groch said after watching Looper's outing. "But it didn't seem to affect him at all." Looper's next outing will likely be in Minor League camp before manager Ken Macha adjusts the rotation for the start of the season. That would leave him two Cactus League starts, then one more Minor League game on April 5 in Phoenix while the rest of the Brewers enjoy the first of two off-days in San Francisco. "I felt great today physically, even if I wasn't as sharp as you would like," Looper said. "That's fine since I've only thrown two bullpens after having quite a while off. I thought the ball was coming out of my hand pretty good, and now I have to fine-tune a bit."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.