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03/30/12 5:50 PM ET

Izturis relieved to make Brewers' cut

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Veteran infielder Cesar Izturis could have elected free agency on Friday and taken his chances elsewhere had he not been added to the Brewers' 40-man roster.

He says he never pondered that potentially tough decision.

"Not at all," Izturis said. "I was thinking positive. I want to be a part of this team."

He will be. Brewers officials informed Izturis on Thursday afternoon that he had made the cut and would be added to the roster before Opening Day. The 11-year Major League veteran will be the backup to regular shortstop Alex Gonzalez and a switch-hitter off the bench.

"It's a relief to me. It's good to know early enough that I can get my mind set for the season," Izturis said.

Now he has to get his mind set for a new role. Izturis started at shortstop against the Dodgers on Friday and entered the day tied for fourth on the team with 49 Cactus League at-bats. But he will come off the bench in the regular season, backing up Gonzalez, and he will also be available at second base and third. Gonzalez started 146 games for the Braves last season.

Izturis has started 983 -- and completed 889 -- of his 1,185 games in the Major Leagues.

"It's different," he said. "But I'll work on it."

Braddock could start games at Nashville

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Brewers still view left-hander Zack Braddock as a big-time relief prospect, but they may have him pitch as a starter at Triple-A Nashville to regain some of the velocity he lost over a tumultuous 2011.

Braddock was on the disabled list last season for a sleep disorder and did not pitch after July 14 while receiving treatment for that and other issues. He was healthy in Spring Training but did not pitch well, missing both the feel for his slider and the power fastball he used to post a 2.94 ERA in 46 relief appearances for manager Ken Macha in 2010. He threw 93-95 mph then, but this spring hovered around 89-90 mph.

The Brewers optioned Braddock to Nashville on Thursday and broached the idea of starting. He seemed receptive, manager Ron Roenicke said.

"He'll be able to build up some arm strength [as a starting pitcher] and get his velocity back, but also to get his command back to be able to use that [offspeed] pitch," Roenicke said. "He really was just a fastball pitcher this spring. Every time he threw a breaking ball, he couldn't command it enough to get it in the zone.

"That's what our thinking is. That's not going to be 100 percent, but that how we think he has the best chance to come back and pitch like he was a couple of years ago."

Braddock is not stretched out as a starter, so he would probably "piggyback" with another Nashville pitcher.

McClendon optioned as Brewers set bullpen

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Brewers optioned right-hander Mike McClendon to Triple-A Nashville on Friday morning, a "tough decision," manager Ron Roenicke said, that essentially cemented righty Tim Dillard and left-hander Manny Parra in the Opening Day bullpen.

The only other reliever still active in big league camp as of Friday morning was lefty reliever Juan Perez, a non-roster invitee who will not be ready for Opening Day. He was scheduled to return to the mound Friday against the Dodgers, but was set back earlier this month when he suffered a partially collapsed lung.

Manager Ron Roenicke declined to declare Dillard and Parra locks for Opening Day because the possibility remains of a late-spring acquisition via free agency, the waiver wire or trade.

Dillard and Parra are out of Minor League options. McClendon had options remaining.

"Sometimes that hurts you," Roenicke said. "But sometimes it helps you, too. I explained to him, 'If you're in the Minors and you have options, that helps you if they need to get somebody."

Roenicke revealed that he'd met over the previous 24 hours with several pitchers and position players to give them an idea of the team's thinking. The roster remains somewhat in flux, depending on whether right-fielder Corey Hart (knee) and starter Shaun Marcum (shoulder) are ready for the opener.

Both are on a positive path. Hart was scheduled to play his first three innings in the outfield on Friday since undergoing right knee surgery March 6. Marcum, bothered by shoulder stiffness early in camp, threw five shutout innings against the Indians Triple-A club on Friday. Marcum allowed one hit, didn't walk a batter and struck out seven while throwing 56 pitches.

The Brewers should know more by Sunday on both players. If Hart does well before then in Minors camp, he potentially could play some of the Brewers' final Cactus League games and open the season in right field. But he would not play all nine innings from the start in that scenario, Roenicke said.

Last call

• The Brewers outrighted right-hander Amaury Rivas on Friday, clearing another spot on the 40-man roster. It stands at 36, but that does not include Izturis or right-hander Mark Rogers, who will come off a suspension the second week in April.

• The Brewers have a strange schedule ahead that includes three early games at 2 CT, and a day-night doubleheader Tuesday at Mesa, Ariz. against the Cubs and at Chase Field against the D-backs. Since Triple-A Nashville breaks camp Monday, the Brewers will send the required three Major League players to Mesa with the Double-A Huntsville stars. Roenicke conceded it's not ideal, but said the Brewers agreed to the game because they owed the Cubs a favor from a previous compromise.

• First baseman Mat Gamel was a late scratch from Friday's lineup while he recovers from a viral bug. Travis Ishikawa started instead.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.