Brewers spring training notes: Gennett to get early work at 3B, OF

The Milwaukee Brewers are trying to find a role for potential utility man Scooter Gennett in their lineup.
Benny Sieu/Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The presence of Orlando Arcia on the Milwaukee Brewers has put Scooter Gennett’s position with the team in flux, quite literally.

Gennett has played in 387 games for the Brewers the last three seasons, with 354 of those coming with him playing second base (with 324 starts).

However, with Arica now implanted at shortstop, the Brewers have moved Jonathan Villar over to second base — leaving Gennett a bit in limbo.

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In order to make himself more valuable to the roster, Gennett is trying to take on a role of utility player with the Brewers. Early in camp he’ll be playing either third base or outfield. On Thursday, for example, he spent his entire day in the outfield.

“It’s a coordinated effort to get him as much exposure to those positions,” manager Craig Counsell explained. “Later in the spring we’ll try to get him some exposure back at second base. For now, get him exposure to the new things.”

Forget new positions. Try unknown.

Gennett has played the outfield just once in the majors — right field for one inning in 2014 (he got no chances). In the minor leagues, other than 13 games at shortstop in his first year as a pro, Gennett has exclusively been a second baseman. He last played outfield in high school. There’s no record of Gennett every having manned third base.

Perhaps that’s why Counsell still considers Gennett a “one-position” player, unlike someone like Hernan Perez, who has played a multitude of positions since entering the majors in 2012, although last season was his first time playing the outfield.

“The roster is all related the pitching and position players, the versatility of your position players, the length you have in your bullpen, the durability you have in your bullpen, they all relate to each other in my mind,” Counsell said. “We’re always going to be in that position. A player like Hernan Perez, though, does offer us the ability to look at different roster composition.”

As the Brewers begin what Counsell calls “the next phase of spring training,” Gennett has time to make an impression, but will it be enough?

Other notes:

— With a lot of talk on the new intentional walk rule, Counsell noted “there’s less rule changes, certainly, in our sport” than others. He added that Major League Baseball should look to shorten the time of games and pointed out cutting back on the dead time, which “is never a good time for anybody.” But Counsell also warned “we can’t change the course of the player’s competition.”

— On opening up against UW-Milwaukee, Counsell, who grew up in the Wisconsin suburb of Whitefish Bay, took the approach of a local. “It’s the only Division 1 baseball program in the state of Wisconsin, so it’s important that it’s viable and successful and doing good,” he said. “To me, that kids in Wisconsin have a place to stay home and play baseball in a Division 1 program.”

— Jorge Lopez is tabbed to pitch in the World Baseball Classic for Puerto Rico. He expressed his excitement not only for the opportunity, but also for getting to play with players such as Carlos Beltran, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor and Yaider Molina.