Bullpen derby: Capuano in, Morales out

Brewers tap veteran lefty for roster spot

Bullpen derby: Capuano in, Morales out

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Chris Capuano is in, Franklin Morales is out, and the battle for Brewers bullpen spots is down to one.

Capuano, a left-handed nonroster invitee who turns 38 this season and previously pitched for the Brewers from 2004-10, was informed Monday afternoon that he'd made the cut. The other left-hander in the running, Morales, was granted his unconditional release.

Brewers Spring Training info

"I think with Cappy we're getting versatility, we're getting a great teammate. We think he's an old dog we can teach new tricks to," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "All those factors combined make Cappy a guy that we wanted on this roster, and those aren't meant in any way to be slights to Franklin."

By "new tricks," Counsell meant that this is the first time in Capuano's career he's entered a season focused exclusively on relief work. Originally acquired in the December 2003 blockbuster trade with the D-backs that also brought Counsell to his hometown Brewers, Capuano owns a 4.39 ERA in 400 Major League games, 225 of which were starts.

Capuano fans Zobrist

The Brewers knew they wanted at least one left-hander in the bullpen, and chose the multi-inning Capuano over the lefty specialist Morales.

"I really tried to learn to be as good as I can at what they're asking me to do," Capuano said, "and that means in these Spring Training games, limiting my warmups to more realistic, game-like scenarios, throwing 10-15 pitches, tops. My body has been good, and I've felt really comfortable in the routine so far. I'm happy to make the team."

At 37, he will be the oldest player on the Brewers' roster. Blaine Boyer and Aaron Hill are each 34.

Counsell on Capuano's role

Morales had a clause in the Minor League contract he signed March 5 that required the Brewers to declare Monday -- one week before Opening Day -- whether he would make the team.

"We have a spot open still, and we wanted to stay flexible with that spot," Counsell said. "I think [adding a player from outside the organization] is a possibility. This is a time of transactions in the game, and it's a time of player availability in the game. At this point, if something comes up that [GM] David [Stearns] likes,that might be the route we go. We still have two guys here who are the in- house candidates for that spot, so I think it will be a question that won't be answered until late in the week."

Tyler Cravy and Ariel Pena are the two in-house candidates in the running for that final job. Pena, 26, is out of options, while Cravy has options remaining.

Last call

• Left fielder Ryan Braun reported further improvement of his stiff back on Monday, and Counsell believes Braun will be able to resume play before the team departs Arizona on Wednesday evening.

• Center field prospect Brett Phillips is among the Double-A players who will join the Brewers for exhibition games against the Astros in Houston on Thursday and Friday. Phillips was one of four prospects acquired from the Astros last July for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers. The Brewers also acquired their starting right fielder, Domingo Santana, in that trade.

• Counsell said he'd had a brief chat Sunday with outfield prospect Monte Harrison, who appeared to flip his bat after hitting a long fly ball in a loss to the Indians that went just foul. Harrison may have simply been frustrated that he'd pulled a good pitch.

"The other dugout told him" it was not a good look, Counsell said. "They were right. I mean, bat flips are not the biggest deal in the world to me, but..."

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.