GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Brewers have yet to schedule right-hander Mark Rogers' return to Cactus League action, and his odds of making the Opening Day starting rotation are shrinking quickly.
"Well, I think where he is in pitch count, it's going to be tough for him to be extended out to 90 pitches or whatever," manager Ron Roenicke said. "I don't ever want to say it's not going to happen, but it's tougher for him right now."
The Brewers removed Rogers from their spring rotation after a poor outing against the Rangers on March 12 and, seeking the return of his velocity and command, had him throw live batting practice on Saturday instead. That session went well, and Roencike indicated that pitching coach Rick Kranitz wanted Rogers to repeat it before slotting back into a game.
Rogers, 27, is out of Minor League options. If he does not win a spot in the rotation, he could still make the cut as a reliever.
With Rogers out of the mix, the Brewers' rotation is currently lined up as Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, Wily Peralta, Chris Narveson and Mike Fiers.
Brewers release Crosby from Minor League deal
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Brewers released Bobby Crosby from his Minor League contract on Monday, ending Crosby's bid for a comeback after two years out of baseball.
Crosby, 33, got a late start because of a thigh injury and then struggled to knock off the rust. He appeared at first base, third base and shortstop but batted .188 with no home runs or RBIs in seven Cactus League games.
"We wanted to let him know ahead of time that his chances of making the club were slim at this point," general manager Doug Melvin said. "Then he talked to his agent and we talked about Triple-A or whatever, but in the end he decided to take his release. He may try to pursue [a deal] with other clubs.
"It's hard to come back from two years [away], but he was OK. He could have still continued to play, but all this comes down to timing. We've got 11 games left, so our [regular] guys are going to be playing more."
Crosby's agent, Paul Cohen, said Crosby hoped to continue his comeback with another club, and appreciated the Brewers making their call on Crosby before the end of camp.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke believes Crosby could benefit from some regular playing time in Triple-A.
"It's going to take him playing somewhere all the time to get back his whole game," Roenicke said. "I still have a lot of confidence when the ball is hit to him, he's got good hands and is going to make the throw over there. He's a very smart guy. Great on a team. But I think he needs a lot of at-bats to get the [offensive] part back again."
Neither of the Brewers' comeback candidates worked out. They also extended a non-roster invitation to right-hander Kelvim Escobar, who has made only one Major League appearance since 2007. But the Brewers were troubled by Escobar's shoulder and released him March 10.
Crosby was not the only Brewers' bench contender enduring an unproductive spring. Fellow non-roster veteran Donnie Murphy entered Monday batting .219 with two extra-base hits in 32 at-bats. Taylor Green was hitting .121. Jeff Bianchi has been limited to one game since March 2 by groin and hip flexor injuries.
If Bianchi can get healthy and Green can start hitting, they would have good chances to make the Opening Day cut because both are on the 40-man roster. Green is a two-time Brewers Minor League Player of the Year.
Until those players get going, the Brewers are considering other players in camp like non-roster catcher Blake Lalli, who also plays first base and could take a left-handed bench job away from Green. Lalli had two more hits Monday including a double off the center-field fence and is batting .387.
"He's impressing a lot of people," Roenicke said. "And not just what he's doing [at the plate], but this guy is really sharp. He can call a great game if we have him behind the plate. Really smart guy. … It would be pretty nice to have a third catcher, and we can use whomever's not catching that night as a pinch-hitter."
Of Green's spring slump, Roenicke said, "That's hitting. Sometimes you struggle for a while and it's hard to get out of it. He was in a role with us that he just started to swing well before he went to the [World Baseball Classic], and I think in one game in the [Classic] he hit well, but he came back here and wasn't swinging like he did before he left. He's pressing to make the team, like everybody is. Hopefully, he starts swinging it like we know he can, and he'll be one of those guys at the end we have to make a decision on."
The same goes for Bianchi, who had to withdraw from Italy's World Baseball Classic entry because of a groin strain that sidelined him two weeks. He returned for two at-bats against the Reds on Saturday before Roenicke revealed a new injury to Bianchi's hip.
"We're hoping to get him back on the field and get him enough at-bats here to be able to make a decision on him before we start [the season]," Roenicke said. "Hopefully, he will be a guy we're talking about those last couple of days."
Braun expected to return to action Tuesday
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Left fielder Ryan Braun is expected to return from a few days off to start against the Angels on Tuesday at Maryvale Baseball Park. The Brewers gave Braun a break after he carried a heavy workload for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Roenicke planned to ease Braun back into action.
"He certainly doesn't need to go nine [innings] like he's been going," Roenicke said. "He's going to have more at-bats this spring than probably ever."
Braun had 25 at-bats in the Classic. Compare that to catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who had only five at-bats in the tournament and has been making up for lost time since rejoining the Brewers. After starting against the Dodgers on Sunday, Lucroy led off every inning of a Minor League game on Monday.