MESA, Ariz. -- The Brewers pitching staff had a good day Tuesday before anyone threw a pitch against the Chicago Cubs at HoHoKam Park. Closer Francisco Cordero threw 26 pitches against Minor League infielders Ozzie Chavez and Yohanis Perez in a simulated game Tuesday morning, and was then penciled in to pitch his first Cactus League game Friday against the Royals. The team has taken a slow approach with Cordero, who experienced shoulder soreness last spring when he was with the Rangers. At the time, Cordero was rushing to prepare for the inaugural World Baseball Classic, from which he eventually was forced to withdraw.
"It went well," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "He's right on schedule. He's going to pitch Friday and fall right into the schedule. We didn't figure our closer needed 12 innings in the spring, so we're going to give him nine." Cordero looked so sharp that the guy behind the plate, Vinny Rottino, wasn't sure why Cordero was being held back. "Same old guy," Rottino said. "He had bite on his slider, threw some changeups. I thought he looked great." The Brewers exercised a $5.4 million option to bring Cordero back this season. They acquired him last July 28 from Texas in the Carlos Lee deal, and Cordero notched 16 saves and posted a 1.69 ERA in 28 Brewers appearances. He was named the team's pitcher of the year. How do you spell relief? The Brewers borrowed former top prospect Brad Nelson from Minor League camp on Tuesday in an effort to give Rottino a chance to play something other than first base. Rottino switched from first to third when Nelson entered the game in the sixth inning. "All of the third basemen are hurt and all of the first basemen are hurt," manager Ned Yost said. "Vinny's going to be the first player in the history of the game to get 500 Spring Training at-bats." Relief is on the way. Craig Counsell, who has been nursing a sore throwing shoulder, made his first start in the field on Tuesday and played third base. Ryan Braun, nursing a sore throwing elbow, said he expects to be back in a game by Thursday and will rejoin the third base battle. Help is on the way at first base, too. Tony Graffanino, sidelined earlier in camp by a twisted ankle, is back in the fold and will probably see some time at both corner infield spots. And Prince Fielder is expected back in the lineup Wednesday after missing a week with a strained quadriceps.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.