PHOENIX -- The young pitcher bumped from the Brewers' projected starting rotation by the Matt Garza signing is still in competition for a bullpen spot, manager Ron Roenicke said Monday.
Right-hander Tyler Thornburg, 25, is "stretching out," in the event he begins the season as a starter. But unlike the organization's other pitching prospects, who have already been sent to the Minor League complex, Thornburg remains in Major League camp. He could make the team in a multi-inning relief role.
"That's why we've been stretching him out, so no matter which way we go with this, we feel like if he is with us we still could use him in [a flexible] role," Roenicke said. "I think it will be judged on everybody and where he fits. I mean, if he's not as good as somebody else, then it would be beneficial to us to let him go be a starter in Triple-A. But if we feel he's better than the other guys we have, then we would like him in our bullpen."
Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny is still recovering from shoulder surgery and will begin the season on the disabled list, so the Brewers have four bullpen spots spoken for by Jim Henderson, Francisco Rodriguez, Brandon Kintzler and left-hander Will Smith.
That leaves three openings for the six relief candidates still in camp: Zach Duke, Alfredo Figaro, Donovan Hand, Thornburg, Wei-Chung Wang and Rob Wooten. Duke and Wang are left-handers; the rest are righties. Duke and Hand are not on the 40-man roster. Wang is a Rule 5 Draft pick, so if the Brewers take him north, he would have to remain on the roster all season or be offered back to the Pirates.
"Wang, if he's on our staff, we also have another guy who can throw multi-innings," Roenicke said. "So we would have two guys [in Wang and Thornburg] who could do it, and I think that covers you for length. Then we have a lot of the one-inning guys."
K-Rod still finding cactus needles in foot
PHOENIX -- Francisco Rodriguez has looked sharp in his two appearances this spring, which is fitting since his foot is still full of spines from a cactus.
The veteran reliever said he pulled three or four dime-sized spines on Sunday and three more on Monday morning before striking out two White Sox batters and retiring all three men he faced in his second scoreless inning since returning to action.
He took off his sock and showed reporters the bottom of his foot, which is still dotted with dozens of buried spines. As the swelling subsides in his foot, more are emerging to be plucked, but one clump in a tender area of his mid-foot continues to cause significant pain.
Asked how he was feeling, Rodriguez said, "About the same. It's not getting any worse. It's getting better, but I landed so hard out there, you still can feel it. I thought by now the pain should go away, but it hasn't. You just have to be patient. The good thing is it hasn't held me out from doing my routine and my workouts."
Said manager Ron Roenicke: "The guy knows how to pitch. He knows when to throw off-speed, and he's got two 'plus' off-speed pitches. His fastball is probably not where he wants it to be right now, but he locates it well, he's got life on it. Being able to do that with the two other pitches, he's going to be good again."
One of the Brewers' other late-inning relievers did not fare as well. Closer Jim Henderson surrendered four runs on four hits in the seventh inning, including a pair of doubles and a two-run home run. One of the doubles was nearly caught by right fielder Irving Falu, who could have ended the inning with only one run across.
"It's still not coming out like we want," Roenicke said. "I thought he threw some decent sliders down, but on one of them the guy went down and smoked it. Who knows? He's going to have to locate better and keep the ball down, but it's not the same."
Garza goes six innings in Triple-A game
PHOENIX -- Matt Garza threw 63 pitches over six innings in a Triple-A game on Monday, working past the third inning for the first time this spring.
Garza allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits, with five strikeouts and no walks against the Reds' top Minor League affiliate. He'd lasted only 1 2/3 innings against the Angels in his previous Cactus League outing.
"It's important to get him stretched out," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Just two more [spring starts] after this. We need to get him out there and get his pitches."
Said Garza: "I felt good, threw the ball well and feel great."
Roenicke senses no panic in the right-hander.
"It doesn't faze him," Roenicke said.
• Kyle Lohse confirmed he was on board with the Brewers' decision to start Yovani Gallardo on Opening Day, even though Lohse had the superior 2013 season.
"It was fine with me," Lohse said. "Last year was an aberration for him. He's looking to come out and do what he normally does, so he's the guy. I'm happy with whatever day is my day. I just work here."
• Gorzelanny played long toss for the second straight day on Monday but is not sure when he will be cleared to pitch off a mound. The Brewers have been cautious with Gorzelanny as he returns from offseason surgery to repair fraying in his rotator cuff and labrum.
"We're at the point now where they haven't told me a day he's going to throw off a mound, so we're a ways away," said Roenicke, who still believes Gorzelanny could be ready within the first half of April.
• When was the last time the Brewers went green on St. Patrick's Day? It had been so long that no club official could offer a precise answer on Monday, when the bright jerseys hung in each player's locker at Maryvale Baseball Park. For information on ordering, contact email@example.com.