The Milwaukee Brewers made their first series of roster moves Tuesday, including optioning right-hander Johnny Hellweg to Triple-A Colorado Springs and left-hander Wei-Chung Wang to Class-A advanced Brevard County.
Catcher Cameron Garfield, right-hander Brooks Hall, right-hander Taylor Williams and left-hander Hobbs Johnson were returned to the minor-league side, leaving the Brewers with 50 players in big-league camp.
Hellweg is working his way back after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last April. The right-hander has yet to appear in a game this spring. He has been set back this spring due to a back issue, but he has had no issues with his elbow.
"We’re trying to make sure we take the right steps with him," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He’s still in the (throwing bullpen sessions) mode. That’s going to be that way for a while . . . It is going to be a slow process."
Milwaukee’s minor-league pitcher of the year in 2013, Hellweg is expected to begin the season in the Triple-A rotation at Colorado Springs. He went 1-2 with a 4.95 ERA in four Triple-A starts last season before being shut down on April 21.
Wang will get to develop in the minor leagues after the Brewers were forced to keep the Taiwanese left-hander in the majors last season after selecting him from Pittsburgh in the Rule 5 Draft.
The 22-year-old has tossed three scoreless innings with three strikeouts this spring. Baseball America ranks Wang as the seventh-best prospect in Milwaukee’s system.
Williams, who impressed early in camp, allowed four earned runs in 2/3 of an inning Saturday against Texas. Ranked as Milwaukee’s No. 15 prospect by MLB.com, Williams will likely start the season with Double-A Biloxi.
"I like to see the guys we think highly of on the minor-league side," Roenicke said. "It is hard when they are telling me about a guy for a couple of years and I never see him. Then all of a sudden you get a phone call, ‘Hey, what do you think? You need a spot starter. Do you want to take a chance?’
"We are familiar with him now. We know what kind of stuff he has. He was trying to get after it a little too much the other day."
Johnson allowed an earned run in his lone inning of the spring, while Hall threw a scoreless inning Monday. Both are likely to begin the season in the Biloxi rotation.
K-Rod expected soon: Francisco Rodriguez is getting closer to reporting to camp, as Roenicke told reporters Monday that the veteran reliever has had his work visa approved in Venezuela.
Rodriguez agreed to a two-year, $13 million contract with Milwaukee on Feb. 26. Roenicke is hopeful to have his closer in camp by the end of the week.
"He still has to go down (to the United States consulate) and get his visa," Roenicke said. "I don’t know when that happens. Hopefully there’s a flight out of there and we get him here at the end of the week."