Wolf already in midseason form in Arizona
PHOENIX — All good things must come to an end, even in spring training.
Left-hander Randy Wolf retired his first 14 batters in Cactus League play before issuing back-to-back walks in the third inning of the Brewers’ 12-2 victory against Cleveland on Friday afternoon at Maryvale Baseball Park.
In his two starts (4 2/3 innings), Wolf has allowed just one hit, with one walk and one strikeout.
“It’s spring training,” Wolf said. “You never want to embarrass yourself, but it’s all about putting things into perspective. My pitches, I feel like they’re working for me. My changeup is a lot better this spring than in previous springs. That’s one goal I had coming in was to have a better changeup. My cutter and curveball have both been good.
“For me, it’s all about throwing a lot of strikes and getting ahead of hitters; using the combinations that I’ll be using in the season as far as what follows the curveball or what follows the cutter and prepare myself that way.”
Last season, Wolf started 34 games and posted a 13-10 record with a 3.69 ERA. He is entering the final season of a three-year, $29.75 contract he signed before 2010 season. The Brewers have an option for 2013.
Batterymates: In both of Wolf’s Cactus League starts, Jonathan Lucroy was behind the plate at catcher. Backup catcher George Kottaras usually handles Wolf’s starts, but manager Ron Roenicke is trying to get Lucroy and Wolf, who have struggled to get into sync in the past, some time working together this spring.
So far, Roenicke is happy with the results.
“I liked it,” Roenicke said. “Two times in a row, there’s a little better feeling there. If something ever was to come up, I want Luc to be able to catch him.”
Big hit for Morgan: Outfielder Nyjer Morgan set a career record last season with four home runs, but power has never been part of his game.
Still, he was pretty excited to belt a solo shot in the fifth inning off Indians right-hander Chris Ray.
“I’m kinda at a loss for words right now,” Morgan said. “I’m still jacked over that bomb … Plush doesn’t put one in the seats every day.”
Morgan has spent much of his spring training working on his approach with new hitting coach Johnny Narron. Specifically, Morgan is looking to improve his performance against left-handed pitchers, who held him to a .209 average last season.
“I like my plan with him, I like my new approach with him,” Morgan said. “It’s a building process. Just working on my approach. I’m hitting lefties a lot better right now.”
Help wanted: With two split-squad meetings in the next three games, the Brewers will be looking for some minor league help to fill out the rosters. Milwaukee faces the Cubs in Maryvale and Giants in Scottsdale on Saturday, and after an off-day Monday, hosts Seattle and visits Oakland on Tuesday.
Roenicke said five players from minor league camp will fill out each team.
“We’ll have enough guys,” Roenicke said. “We’ll be fine.”
Most players who come over aren’t specifically requested, Roenicke said. The major league staff tells the minor league staff what positions need to be filled and players are sent over. The team will ask for certain players if the coaching staff wants to get a look, but for the most part, it’s all about getting serviceable bodies.
On the minor league end, getting assigned to a split-squad game is often a reward of sorts for good play in camp.
On deck: The Brewers will split up Saturday with half the team traveling to Scottsdale to face the Giants and Willy Peralta starting for Milwaukee. At Maryvale, it will be a reunion with former Brewers coach Dale Sveum, who brings his Chicago Cubs to face their Central Division rivals. Lefty Chris Narveson will start for the Brewers in that contest.