First-round pick Ray 'unlikely' to play in spring

Stearns says Feliz's arrival slightly delayed because of visa issue

First-round pick Ray 'unlikely' to play in spring

PHOENIX -- Brewers first-round Draft pick Corey Ray remains in rehab mode after undergoing knee surgery last year, so his first big league Spring Training will be more about soaking in the experience rather than showing off his skills.

Ray, an outfielder who is the Brewers' No. 2 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, underwent surgery in early October for a torn meniscus in his left knee, an injury suffered in the fall instructional league. On Tuesday, general manager David Stearns described Ray as "limited" at the onset of Spring Training.

"He is running some, he is going through full lower-body lifts, he is hitting off a tee and throwing and things like that. So he is progressing towards baseball activities," Stearns said. "But it's limited at this point. … I would think it is unlikely that Corey plays in a game in Major League Spring Training this year."

The Brewers are hopeful Ray is ready to play a handful of Minor League Spring Training games before affiliates break camp in early April. Milwaukee drafted the left-handed-hitting Ray No. 5 overall last year out of the University of Louisville.

"This was a case where we think it's beneficial to the player to be around a Major League environment, to get to know some of our guys, to get to know our coaching staff," Stearns said. "Having him over here for a couple of weeks will accomplish that."

Brewers pitchers and catchers will undergo physical exams on Wednesday morning, but as of Tuesday, Stearns did not anticipate any other medical surprises. A number of pitchers will be limited participants as they return from significant injuries, including Adrian Houser and Sean Nolin, each of whom is returning Tommy John surgery, and Yhonathan Barrios, who is recovering from shoulder surgery.

Feliz delayed in Dominican Republic

All of the Brewers' pitchers and catchers were presented and accounted for on Tuesday's report date except for one: Neftali Feliz, who signed a one-year free-agent deal on Jan. 19. Feliz remains in the Dominican Republic because of what Stearns characterized as a "visa issue."

"We do not anticipate it being a long-term problem," Stearns said, "but he will be at least a few days late."

Brewers sign Neftali Feliz

Still taking calls

The stream of phone calls is a reminder to Stearns that notable players remain in free agency as camps open around baseball. But Stearns, at least in his public comments, did not sound motivated to add to Milwaukee's Spring Training roster.

"We're always talking," Stearns said. "But at this point, I would say it's unlikely that we make any further acquisitions."

Among the notable players still seeking jobs are catcher Matt Wieters, infielder Aaron Hill, designated hitter/first baseman Billy Butler, outfielder Michael Bourn and pitchers Joe Blanton and Doug Fister.

"It seems like every year we have a conversation about, 'Wow, it seems like free agency is getting later and later,'" Stearns said. "It may be a little more pronounced this year, but even in a 'normal' year, you have agent discussion and activity throughout the first couple of weeks of the spring."

First workout on tap

The Brewers' first formal Spring Training workout on Wednesday will be an afternoon affair, since pitchers and catchers will spend the morning undergoing physical exams. Fans interested in observing the workout should expect the team to take the field at Maryvale Baseball Park at about 1:30 p.m. MST.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. 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.