Wilkins slugging his way onto Crew's radar

Well-traveled vet hit homers in back-to-back games

Wilkins slugging his way onto Crew's radar

PHOENIX -- "FAT GUYS RAKE," screamed the sleeveless black T-shirt worn by Andy Wilkins, a first baseman in Brewers camp who is not fat, but certainly has been raking.

The well-traveled Wilkins homered for the second straight game on Saturday before taking Sunday off. He is near the top of the list of players who have impressed Brewers manager Craig Counsell in the early stages of Spring Training.

"Any time you get performance like that, you take note," Counsell said. "It certainly helps him in our eyes. He's one instance from being pretty important as far as Major League playing time. We're not writing off any of these guys."

By "instance," Counsell meant an injury to Chris Carter, whom the Brewers signed to play first base. That free-agent agreement came two weeks after the Brewers claimed Wilkins off waivers, making Milwaukee Wilkins' seventh organization in the span of nine months.

Assuming Carter handles first base at Miller Park on Opening Day, Wilkins will play the position at Triple-A Colorado Springs. With the Brewers intent on developing recently acquired Jacob Nottingham as a catcher, their top first base prospect is David Denson, who played some outfield in instructional ball but will continue to see action at first, farm director Tom Flanagan said. Denson, however, is several years away from being Major League-ready.

So, the Brewers were a perfect fit. Wilkins hit a two-run home run on Friday against Seattle, and a three-run home run in Saturday's 8-8 tie with Oakland.

"I've been tossed around so much, all I'm really trying to do is focus on my game and what I can do," Wilkins said. "I'm not trying to put too much pressure on myself to hit three home runs in three days. Just put good swings on the ball. I don't just hit home runs. ...

"Honestly, you don't necessarily take [being let go by other teams] personal. It's the business side of things. But at some point, you kind of get a chip on your shoulder. My wife and I have talked about that they haven't given me a chance to show what I can do. That's kind of what we're out to do."

Wilkins said the T-shirt, which bears an image of Babe Ruth following through on a mighty swat, was a gift two years ago from Brad Miller, an old Team USA teammate and roommate who is now with the Rays.

"It's fun to wear around," Wilkins said with a smile.

It's a relief
Left-hander Franklin Morales said he would need a handful of bullpen sessions, beginning with one scheduled for Monday, before he's ready to appear for the Brewers in a game. He finalized a Minor League contract on Saturday and will compete for a bullpen spot.

"It was very difficult" waiting to find an offer, said Morales. "But I feel healthy, and I'm ready to go. I don't know [why it took so long]. That's the business."

Last call
• Reliever Jeremy Jeffress, sidelined by a strained right hamstring, said he has been playing catch and making progress. He has yet to throw off a mound.

• Carter batted sixth against the Indians on Sunday -- and homered -- and has been hitting in the bottom half of Counsell's lineups so far. But don't read too much into that, the manager cautioned.

"I really don't have strong thoughts on our lineup right now," Counsell said. "It's really wide open for me. ... I'll tell you, in Spring Training, we're going to experiment with some lineup stuff. And we might be experimenting into the season a little bit with some lineup combinations."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.