Perez to start Brewers' Cactus opener in LF

Utility man preparing to join Venezuela for WBC 2017

Perez to start Brewers' Cactus opener in LF

PHOENIX -- Brewers utility man Hernan Perez will start in left field Saturday when the team kicks off its Cactus League slate against the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium (2:10 p.m. CT, live on Gameday Audio), part of Perez's preparation for the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Perez is playing for Venezuela and was told to prepare for the possibility of a left-field platoon with the Phillies' Odubel Herrera. Perez is a right-handed hitter who started games for the Brewers last season at every position but pitcher and catcher; Herrera is a left-handed hitter.

"I'm a different case this year, a little more relaxed," said Perez, who gained a foothold in his age-25 season with a .730 OPS and 34 stolen bases in a career-high 404 at-bats. "But I think I'm going to play a lot in the first week because I'm leaving [for the Classic]."

Likewise for pitcher Carlos Torres of Mexico, who is expected to pitch two innings on Saturday, and Jonathan Villar of the Dominican Republic, who will start at second base. Wily Peralta of the Dominican Republic and Jorge Lopez of Puerto Rico will pitch in Sunday's game against the Dodgers.

"Everybody is eager to get past the PFPs [pitchers' fielding practice] and the random work, though in retrospect, those are some of the more important things we do here," Torres said. "It's always nice to compete against other teams, to actually pitch in games."

Torres prepares for WBC 2017

Most of the Brewers' other World Baseball Classic participants will depart camp beginning March 5 to join their international teams.

The Brewers' starter against the Angels will be Brent Suter, a left-hander who made his Major League debut last season and is competing for a bullpen spot in his first big league camp. He joined the big league team from Minor League camp for a Cactus League game last spring but did not pitch.

When infielder Yadiel Rivera asked Suter whether he was nervous, Suter actually had to think about it for a moment.

"More excited than nervous," he said. "I want to go out there and execute pitches, show what I can do. We've been doing a lot of PFP, so if a ball comes my way, I want to make the play on it. I want to control the running game if guys get on. Just do my job.

"I'm definitely treating it as a game. I'm not trying to just go through the motions. It's Day One, but we're competing."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for 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.