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Friday: Heading North
We're wrapping up the Cactus League and looking ahead in today's roundup of all things Brewers.

Some things to read while being persistent.

The Brewers closed up shop in Maryvale for another year yesterday, but were unable to close out the Cactus League schedule with a win. They dropped an 8-2 loss to the Reds, and Brew Crew Ball has the recap.

Ryan Braun picked up a pair of at bats in the final Arizona game, going 1-for-2 with an RBI double. His thumb remains a topic of conversation, though. During the game broadcast on FS Wisconsin, Brian Anderson mentioned that it's still bothering Braun, but after the game, Braun told @joe_block that it's good.

Other notes from the field:
  • Former Brewer Jason Bourgeois went 2-for-3 with an RBI single and a solo home run for the Reds yesterday. Both hits came against Kyle Lohse.
  • The Brewers finished Cactus League play with losses in five of their last six games and a 12-17 record. MLB.com tracks spring records since 2006, and this is Milwaukee's worst spring over that stretch.
  • Apparently, one fan felt they didn't hang around long enough after one of those losses: The author of a letter to the editor in the Arizona Republic says the Brewers and Mariners players leaving the field didn't sign enough autographs after a recent game.
  • Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel talked to Logan Schafer about thinking like a regular while learning to adapt to life as a bench player.
  • The Brewers Instagram page has a quick interview with Carlos Gomez on his offseason.
The Brewers are back in Milwaukee today and will open Miller Park with an exhibition game against the Royals tonight. As of this writing, Ron Roenicke hasn't officially announced a starting pitcher, but today would be Matt Garza's turn in the rotation. Whoever pitches will face Jason Vargas at 7:10 p.m. Central time. 

Brandon Kintzler won't start tonight's game, but he does have a job to do: He'll be serving as a bat boy after losing a round of golf to Kyle Lohse. (h/t @AdamMcCalvy)

Kintzler is one of the leaders of a relatively inexperienced Brewers relief corps. Yesterday, noted leisured gentleman Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs listed the Brewers 29th out of 30 teams in his bullpen projections.

The Brewers only used three left-handed relievers in all of 2013, but will open the season with three on the roster in 2014. Jaymes Langrehr of Disciples of Uecker has a preview of the southpaws in the bullpen.

Tonight's exhibition game could feature as many as five first-time members of an Opening Day roster: Adam McCalvy notes that Jeff Bianchi, Scooter Gennett, Will Smith, Tyler Thornburg and Wei-Chung Wang are all experiencing this for the first time. When he appears in his first game, Wang will also be the first Taiwanese Brewer and the youngest Taiwanese player ever to appear in the majors. (h/t @MikeVassallo13)

Meanwhile, Yovani Gallardo is making his fifth consecutive Opening Day start. 2013 was pretty easily the worst full season of his MLB career, and Derek Harvey of Brew Crew Ball asks if he can bounce back in 2014.

Khris Davis is making his second Opening Day roster, having hit his way into a limited role with the team last year. This will be his first Opening Day start, though, and yesterday, Ron Roenicke made if official (h/t @AdamMcCalvy). The Brewers still haven't committed to starters at first or second base, though.

Davis will play alongside Carlos Gomez, who is expected to be in the leadoff spot when Monday's lineup is released. Doug Melvin was interviewed during FS Wisconsin's game broadcast yesterday and said that batting Gomez first gives the team an opportunity to maximize his at-bats over the course of a season. (h/t @NPetrashek)

This would also be Jean Segura's second Opening Day, but it's still possible he'll open the season on the disabled list with his sore shoulder. Yesterday, Doug Melvin told FS Wisconsin the Brewers have been keeping him out of Cactus League games so his DL stint could be backdated up to 10 days. In a related note, Adam McCalvy says health could be a major factor in the Brewers' 2014 season.

Meanwhile, Juan Francisco is still looking for work after being put on waivers earlier this week. This week's Brew Crew Ball Tracking Poll shows that 55 percent of voters think the Brewers made a mistake by letting him go. Nate Petrashek has more on that in our Tweet of the Day:
Tom Gorzelanny also won't be with the team on Monday. He's opening the season on the DL as he continues to rehab from offseason shoulder surgery and will remain in Arizona for the time being.

At least Gorzelanny and Francisco are safe from being added to this list: Plunk Everyone has compiled a list of every Brewer who has been hit by a pitch on Opening Day.
In the minors:
  • The Brewers released 11 minor leaguers yesterday, announcing the move in a two-part tweet on the @BrewersPD feed. The most notable among them are probably 2010 sixth-round draft pick Cody Hawn, 2012 seventh-round pick David Otterman and 2009 eighth-round pick Chadwin Stang. Milwaukee native and Whitefish Bay High School alum Charlie Markson was also among those let go.
  • Brad Krause of Miller Park Prospects has a story on likely Wisconsin shortstop Angel Ortega.
Back in Milwaukee, preparations continue for Opening Day at Miller Park. Road construction and busy parking lots could make getting to the park a bit of a challenge this season, but Fox 6 News has a guide to avoiding that stress by riding the bus.

You probably won't see Bob Uecker on the bus, but you will see him at the ballpark for his 59th professional Opening Day. Uecker turned 80 over the winter, but Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger told Rich Kirchen of the Milwaukee Business Journal the Brewers have no plans to groom a replacement for him.

I don't think Hank the Dog is allowed on the bus either, but I'm sure his presence will be felt (and hopefully not smelled) around Miller Park this season. Hank is even getting his own bobblehead day on September 13.

Today in previews, projections, predictions and the like: Jonah Keri of Grantland previewed the NL Central and says the Brewers' best case scenario has them "surging to second place with a shot at the Wild Card."

Around baseball:

Astros: Claimed outfielder Alex Presley off waivers from the Twins. 
Cubs: Infielder Ryan Reynolds opted out of his contract and is now a free agent. 
Mariners: Signed pitcher Chris Young and designated pitcher Bobby LaFromboise for assignment. 
Marlins: Third baseman Ed Lucas will open the season on the DL with a broken hand. 
Nationals: Re-signed reliever Michael Gonzalez to a minor league deal. 
Orioles: Pitcher Alfredo Aceves has opted out of his minor league contract and is now a free agent. 
Phillies: Released 1B/OF Bobby Abreu. 
Red Sox: Pitcher Craig Breslow will open the season on the DL with a shoulder strain. 
Royals: Returned Rule 5 draft pick Patrick Schuster to Diamondbacks. 
Tigers: Signed 1B/3B Miguel Cabrera to a 10-year, $292 million contract.

Aside from the Cabrera deal, yesterday's biggest news around baseball was almost certainly the changes to baseball's drug policy. First-time offenders will now see their suspensions raised from 50 to 80 games, and players suspended in a season will not be eligible for postseason play, even if they've served their full punishment.

Today in former Brewers: 
  • Prince Fielder and the Rangers played Quintana Roo from the Mexican League in an exhibition game in Arlington last night, and Fielder hit a 424-foot home run in his first home game in his new park. 
  • Bless You Boys is introducing Tigers fans to Alex Gonzalez, Detroit's newest infielder.
Today's most interesting sabermetric note comes via Scott Lindholm of Beyond the Box Score, who has a look at how game-time temperature affects offense as the season goes along. This shouldn't be a factor for the Brewers at home against the Braves, but it could be when they travel to Boston and Philadelphia.

Finally, with help from the Baseball Reference Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy birthday today to 2002 Brewer Ryan Christenson. He turns 40.

Today is also the 35th anniversary of the Mariners releasing pitcher Jim Colborn, effectively ending the MLB career of the first 20-game winner in Brewers franchise history, and the 31st anniversary of the Brewers releasing reliever Dwight Bernard, also ending his career. I covered those events in Today In Brewer History last year and two years ago, respectively.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the great hand returns.

Drink up.

Don't forget to follow Kyle on Twitter @BrewFrostyMug, and check out and "like" the Mug's new Facebook page. The Frosty Mug runs mornings Monday-Friday and is brought to you by Legends of the Field, a sports memorablila company you can trust.

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Dikembe Meiztombo Posted: 3/28/2014 2:05:04 PM
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The Tigers are hilarity
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