Notes: Yost unhappy with pitchers

Notes: Yost unhappy with pitchers

PHOENIX -- Saturday began on a high note in Brewers camp. Players gathered on a back diamond at Maryvale Baseball Park for the first-annual "Clubbie Olympics," organized by catcher Damian Miller and won by Alex Sanchez -- the clubhouse attendant, not the outfielder.

"That is, by far, the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life," infielder Tony Grafffanino said.

But the mood changed in a hurry, at least for half the club. Manager Ned Yost made a rare appearance at the daily morning pitchers' meeting and told his hurlers emphatically that it's time to "pick it up."

The club had a 6.00 staff ERA after Saturday's 5-2 loss to the Padres, in which the Brewers out-hit their opponents, 11-4, but lost. The problem, Yost figures, is that pitchers are pressing.

"Granted, they're spring numbers, but they're not where I want them to be," Yost said early in the day. "I look at our pitching staff as a strength on our club."

Chris Capuano, who cruised through five scoreless innings Saturday but then walked three batters leading off the sixth, said the message got through.

"It almost puts your back up against the wall a little bit," Capuano said. "Most guys at this level respond to that. When they're threatened or put in a corner, they're going to fight. It's not necessarily a bad thing."

But Yost was even more irked after the game. Four of San Diego's five runs were the result of walks.

He met briefly with left-hander Zach Jackson and right-handers Mike Meyers and Corey Thurman, who were sent to the Minors.

"Good teams don't beat themselves," said Yost, who admitted that his own mood and the vibe in the clubhouse was unusually sour for Spring Training. "I don't like giving games away like we did today. ...

"I think our guys expect more of themselves," Yost said. "I think they're a little upset at the way they're playing, too. And that's a good thing. I don't think we've seen that here much. I don't mind that at all."

Getting close: Jackson, with a 7.82 ERA in seven outings -- including seven walks in 12 2/3 innings, was optioned to Triple-A Nashville while Meyers and Thurman were returned to Minor League camp. The roster moves left the Brewers with 35 players in camp, including just 15 pitchers. The team is still deciding whether to carry 11 or 12 pitchers to start the season.

The five-man starting rotation is set, leaving 10 pitchers vying for six or seven bullpen spots. Francisco Cordero, Derrick Turnbow, Matt Wise and Brian Shouse are safe bets to make the team, and coming into camp it was thought right-hander Jose Capellan was as well. But Capellan struggled against Texas on Friday night and has a 6.75 spring ERA.

Capellan, who had a 4.40 ERA in 61 outings last season, is not assured a spot in the bullpen, Yost said.

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"He's been informed that he needs to pick it up," the skipper said. "And to his credit, it's not that he's cruising. He's trying. He's trying hard. The results just haven't been there."

Jackson, who was competing for one of the open bullpen slots, will join the starting rotation at Nashville. He needs to work on developing better offspeed options and there was some discussion this spring of whether Jackson's future is as a reliever.

"It's all part of the development of a young pitcher," Yost said. "He very easily could [be back soon]. He made great improvements from where he was at this time last year. He's a better pitcher."

Signs of progress: For the first time this spring, Capuano looked like the guy who won 18 games in 2005 and made the All-Star team last season. Through his first five innings against the Padres on Saturday, he allowed one hit and no runs.

Then Capuano started walking everybody. First, Jose Cruz, Jr. Then Brian Giles. Then Mike Cameron, despite getting ahead of Cameron, 0-and-2. Josh Bard followed with a two-run single that cost Capuano a chance for his first spring win.

"When I get in trouble -- and this happened to me [last] season a few times -- I start picking around the zone," Capuano said. "You lose that aggressiveness of being on the attack. I just couldn't make the adjustment. ... But this is the best I've felt, for sure."

Moneyball: Commissioner Bud Selig stopped by Maryvale Baseball Park on Saturday and said business is booming.

"There isn't a club that I talk to that doesn't tell me business is up," Selig said. "I think that's wonderful. I'm very proud of that. We set a new [attendance] record for three straight years and I believe this will be our fourth straight."

Selig said he keeps a chart of historical attendance information on the right side of his desktop. Whenever he is in a bad mood, he steals a glance.

"We're at numbers now that no one could ever have dreamed of, five years ago, 10 years ago," Selig said. "In the so-called golden era of baseball -- '51, '52, '53 -- the best average was 1.3 million per team. By 1953, when the Braves came to Milwaukee, they were down to 899,000 per team. So here, now all our games are on television and we're averaging 2.535 [million per team], and it will be better this year."

In 2006, 76,043,902 fans attended Major League games. The Brewers drew 2,335,643 fans, eclipsing the two-million mark for their third straight year and the fifth time in club history.

Last call: Outfielder Laynce Nix took some swings off a tee Saturday but said he still felt tightness in his strained oblique muscle. ... First baseman Prince Fielder was back in camp and feeling better after missing Friday with the flu, but was given another day off. He should return to the lineup Sunday against the Royals. ... Outfielder Geoff Jenkins hosted a team party on Saturday night at his Paradise Valley home. ... Corey Hart turned 25 on Saturday. He had the day off. ... Former Brewers pitcher Moose Haas threw out a ceremonial first pitch Saturday and signed autographs during the early innings. Wisconsin native Vinny Rottino caught the pitch. ... In the top of the seventh inning, Padres general manager Kevin Towers was struck in the face by a foul tip that slipped through the netting behind home plate. He returned to the team's complex in Peoria for an examination.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.