Last Call: Ninth-inning struggle for Jeffress

Righty was enjoying a strong spring before allowing four runs to A's

Last Call: Ninth-inning struggle for Jeffress

PHOENIX -- Last Call is a spot for all the notes and anecdotes from Brewers camp that didn't find a home elsewhere on the site. Today: A tough ninth inning.

• Reliever Jeremy Jeffress was enjoying a solid Spring Training, with a 2.35 ERA and a sparkling .130 opponents' average through his first six Cactus League appearances. He hit a major speed bump on Wednesday against the A's when he squandered a four-run lead in the ninth inning of what became a 9-9 tie.

"He was up. Everything was up," manager Ron Roenicke said. "He was all over the place with his fastball, and then didn't throw a lot of breaking balls."

Jeffress found trouble when he hit the A's leadoff hitter, J.P. Sportman, with a pitch. He was charged with four runs on that hit batsman, a walk and two hits, including Mark Canha's game-tying two-run home run.

• Right-hander Ariel Pena is moving to full-time relief in 2015, and the early returns are promising. Including a perfect ninth inning in Tuesday's rout of the D-backs, Pena has a 2.45 ERA in seven Cactus League appearances, with only one walk in 7 1/3 innings.

The Brewers acquired Pena, shortstop Jean Segura and pitcher Johnny Hellweg in the 2012 trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Angels.

"He's going to be a nice piece," Roenicke said. "I think he'll pitch himself into [a role], depending on who they have there [at Triple-A Colorado Springs]. He is spotting his fastball better than I've ever seen it, and his slider is definitely better than I've ever seen. I don't know, the last three outings I keep watching him, and it's impressive."

Pena was removed from Milwaukee's 40-man roster over the winter, but the move to relief could help revitalize his chances of joining Segura and Hellweg in the Major League record books.

Pena completes two frames

• Brewers TV broadcaster Brian Anderson was back in camp Wednesday after spending the last week calling NCAA Tournament games. He'll return to that duty during the Final Four, calling some school-specific "Team Stream" broadcasts for television and online.

• There's swinging a hot bat, and then there's what Jonathan Lucroy did at Maryvale Baseball Park early Wednesday. He literally posed with a flaming baseball bat for a shoot with club photographer Scott Paulus, whose work appears often on brewers.com.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.