Gallardo’s groin could limit availability for WBC

One of the biggest concerns that Brewers manager Ron Roenicke

has about letting so many of his players head to the World Baseball

Classic is the possibility of an injury.

Turns out an injury could keep one of them from participating at

all.

Right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who is expected to anchor Mexico’s

starting rotation, strained a groin Tuesday against Seattle,

putting his availability for the tournament in question.

”We’re going to be cautious with him,” Roenicke said before

Saturday’s spring training game against the Los Angeles Angels.

”We’re making sure he’s 100 percent before he goes.”

Gallardo was scratched from a scheduled appearance Sunday

against the Cubs and will instead throw a bullpen session for the

Brewers. If that goes well, Roenicke said Gallardo will return from

a series of meetings with Mexico to pitch in an exhibition game for

Milwaukee on Tuesday.

Milwaukee would then make a decision about whether to release

him to play in the WBC.

”He’s going to go,” Roenicke said, ”but he’ll come back and

pitch an inning for us. He’ll go over probably for the meeting, a

practice, and come back and pitch for us Tuesday.”

The former All-Star worked two scoreless innings against the

Mariners in his first start of the spring, but he allowed a single

and then back-to-back homers in the third.

He rebounded to strike out Michael Morse before leaving after 45

pitches.

”For myself, I look at it as a positive,” Gallardo said of the

WBC in a recent interview. ”To go out there and compete again in

these games gives me a chance to prepare and get ready for the

season. I’ve never been a part of something like that so it will be

interesting to see.”

Gallardo went 16-9 with a 3.66 ERA last season.

Roenicke said that outfielder Ryan Braun was sporting a bruise

after fouling a pitch off his left knee Thursday, but that he

doesn’t believe the issue is serious and it should not affect his

availability for the U.S. as it begins exhibition games next

week.

”Every day it’s going to get better,” Roenicke said.

Roenicke couldn’t help but joke about how quiet the Brewers’

clubhouse is going to be next week, once all their players dotting

international rosters have departed.

Gallardo will be joined by right-hander Marco Estrada on the

Mexican team, and Braun will have catcher Jonathan Lucroy with him

playing on the U.S. Jeff Bianchi is playing for Italy, Carlos Gomez

for the Dominican Republic, Hainley Statia for the Netherlands,

Mike Walker for Australia, and Martin Maldonado and Hiram Burgos

for Puerto Rico.

Then there’s Canada, which plays the Brewers in their exhibition

game Tuesday.

Minor leaguers Taylor Green and Rene Tosoni will be joined by

relief pitchers John Axford and Jim Henderson, who will be in the

awkward position of throwing against their own teammates.

”It’ll be a little weird,” Roenicke said, ”but I want those

guys to pitch well.”

Roenicke acknowledged the challenge of losing so many players

from spring training, and he believes WBC organizers may lower the

number of players who can be taken from one organization.

The rules stipulate that no more than 14 can be selected from

any organization, and no more than 10 on an active major league

roster or disabled list, unless the club grants permission.

The Brewers are one of the few that are bumping up against that

upper limit, while teams such as the New York Mets and Oakland

Athletics have just a single player involved.

”That limit is pretty high,” Roenicke said. ”Certainly

because it’s hurt us so much, if they drop that number a bit, it’d

help us. … The advantage is we’re playing in games that really

count with maybe getting some guys to progress a little farther,

but obviously, the injury part is what’s important to me.”