Ready or not, Opening Day is here. For the Brewers, they could probably wait another week or two to get all their guys healthy, but the clock has ticked down to zero and it’s time to Play Ball.
Things got off to a difficult start for the Brew Crew early in camp. Within days of each other, All-Star outfielder Corey Hart strained his left oblique, and then catcher Jonathan LuCroy broke his right pinkie, followed by newly acquired ace Zach Greinke fracturing a rib. All of them are still basically in the early stages of their own Spring Trainings.
The hope is that Hart and LuCroy will both be back within a couple of weeks, maybe, if all goes well, even sooner. Greinke could be out a little longer, but a late April early May return is certainly possible. In the meantime, others will need to step up.
Shawn Marcum, who also had a fight with the injury bug, seems ready to go, and will start the 2nd game of the season. He probably will be on a limited pitch count, but a solid 5-6 innings would be a very good sign.
Yovani Gallardo gets the ball on Opening Day after a brilliant Spring Training which saw him sport a 1.96 era with 23 K’s in just over 18 innings pitched. He has the makings of a Cy Young season in his right arm. His talent, confidence and humility are a lethal combination.
Randy Wolf didn’t have much of a spring, but the veteran knows the difference between March and April baseball, and will certainly dial it up a notch now that we’re playing for real.
The bullpen is loaded, led by John Axford, who came out of nowhere to win the closer’s job last year, and shows no signs of giving up that position anytime soon. He has the perfect mindset for a closer; short term memory mixed with a great sense of humor. Never too high, and never too low. Takashi Saito and Zach Braddock will serve as setup men, with help from Sean Green, Kameron Loe and both Manny Parra and LaTroy Hawkins once they get fully healthy as well.
As far as the offense goes, not many teams could handle having their All-Star outfielder and promising young catcher both shelved at the same time, but this lineup is loaded. Prince Fielder is in a contract year, and never takes a play off. Watch out for a huge year from the huge man. Rickie Weeks finally was healthy for a full season in 2010 and you saw what that meant. 29 Hr’s, 112 runs scored. Nuff said.
Casey McGehee proved his rookie year was a fluke. He was actually better than what he showed in 2009. another 20+ HR, 100+ RBI season is in the mix for him.
Ryan Braun is quietly one of the game’s best. He’s still only 27 years old. His best days are ahead of him. That’s pretty scary.
Whomever mans center, whether it’s Carlos Gomez or Nyjer Morgan, one thing is for certain—they’ll be running—a lot.
New manager Ron Roenicke has to like his chances in the NL Central. As long as his players are on the field, and not in the training room.
About the Author
Written by Scott Johnston
Scott Johnston is a longtime Sports TV Producer/Writer from Los Angeles who now lives just outside of Boston. After a long career at KCAL-TV in L.A., where Scott covered such things as Kirk Gibson’s HR, Hank Gathers death, and Magic Johnson’s retirement, NBA ll-Star Game MVP performance and subsequent return to the NBA. His favorite team is the Oakland A’s and whomever happens to be playing the Yankees, USC or the Cowboys on that particular day. Scott left his staff position at KCAL and formed his own small production company in 1996 while continuing to freelance there and at other stations, including WTTG in DC for two years. His company, ProTVSports, started out covering one team during Spring Training in 1997 but now covers six of the Cactus League teams. He also covers tennis and golf events during the year and has had the privilege of covering 5 NBA Finals, including two of the last three. Scott loves all sports, but considers baseball to be his favorite. He loves politcs, reading, movies and his wife and two daughters—not in that order!