Weekend Update: 3/20/16

Jeremy Jeffress made his Cactus League debut for the Brewers on Saturday.

Jeremy Jeffress made his Cactus League debut for the Brewers on Saturday.

SMITH, JEFFRESS TO SHARE CLOSER DUTIES

Manager Craig Counsell will opt to head into the regular season without naming a traditional closer, instead choosing to have both Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress close games for the Brewers.

“There’s no spot on the lineup card for closer” joked Counsell. “It certainly could end up being one guy, but those guys are both really good and one throws left-handed, one throws right-handed and I think we should take advantage of that.”

Neither player recorded a save in 2015, but Smith – the lefty – and Jeffress – the righty – were the top two Brewers pitchers in terms of appearances last season and figure to get the bulk of late inning appearances for Milwaukee based on matchups this season.

Both have proven capable in high pressure, late-game situations in the past and the Brewers have a pair of solid options in Smith and Jeffress. The big question will be how many opportunities the two will actually get on a club not expected to win a lot of ballgames.

ANDERSON WORKING TOWARDS OPENING DAY

Barring any injuries over the next two weeks, the Brewers starting rotation appears all but set and newcomer Chase Anderson, acquired from Arizona this past offseason, looks to be Milwaukee’s fifth starter.

Though the numbers haven’t been all that impressive thus far for Anderson, spring training is a time for pitchers to work on things and make sure they’re ready when the bell rings on opening day and Anderson has been doing just that.

“I’m working on a couple things” he said during an interview with Craig Coshun and Bill Schroeder of Fox Sports Wisconsin, “a new curveball, trying to get that cutter in there, and just trying to get all the pitches ready for the season. I’d like to have better results this spring, but obviously it’s spring training and the stats don’t really matter.”

PONCE DAZZLES FOR MANATEES

One player who could be in for big things in 2016 is right-handed pitcher Cody Ponce. The Brewers used their second round pick in last year’s draft to select the 21-year-old Ponce, but it’s looking more and more like they may have gotten themselves a first round talent in the 55th overall selection.

After splitting last season between Helena and Wisconsin, Ponce is slated to begin the 2016 campaign as a key member of the starting rotation at High-A Brevard County. He got off on the right foot on Friday afternoon, tossing four scoreless innings for the Manatees in their 10-9 win over Daytona. With his fastball sitting in the mid-90’s, Ponce allowed only one base hit, striking out a pair of hitters and not walking a batter.

OTHER NEWS AND NOTES

– The Brewers made a series of roster moves this past week, sending a total of 17 players across the parking lot to their minor league camp. Among the more noteable players returned to minor league camp were top shortstop prospect Orlando Arcia, outfielder Michael Reed and pitchers Jorge Lopez, Zach Davies and Adrian Houser. The moves left Milwaukee with 41 players remaining in camp.

– One of those players left in camp is pitcher Yhonathan Barrios, but things don’t sound good for the right-handed reliever. After being shut down during winter ball and making just one spring appearance against UW-Milwaukee, Barrios is going to open the season on the DL as the Brewer await a second opinion on his medical record from Dr. James Andrews.

– Second baseman Scooter Gennett made his Cactus League debut on Thursday, going 3-for-3 with a single, double and home runs as the Brewers designated hitter. He was back in the lineup for Milwaukee on Saturday, this time playing in the field and went 1-for-4 with a run scored.

– Catcher Jacob Nottingham, who was impressive during his time in big league camp, kept his strong spring going in Biloxi’s first spring training game, reaching base four times. He doubled twice and drew a pair of walks while scoring three runs and knocking in two in the Shuckers 7-4 win over Pensacola.

– Three more games were added to the minor league spring schedule with some of the Brewers lower-level prospects set to take on the Langley Blaze from March 22nd-24th. All three games will be held in Maryvale with the games on the 22nd and 24th scheduled for 1 PM and the March 23rd contest slated for a 10 AM start time.

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