Feliz nearing game action with Brewers

Crew's new closer to throw BP at camp on Sunday

Feliz nearing game action with Brewers

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Brewers' new closer will move a step closer Sunday to catching up with the rest of the staff.

Neftali Feliz, whose arrival in camp was delayed by a visa issue, said he was scheduled to throw batting practice on Sunday morning at Maryvale Baseball Park. For other Brewers pitchers, that was their final step before appearing in a game.

"I usually throw between 7-10 innings. Ten innings is the most I've thrown in spring," Feliz said through interpreter Carlos Brizuela.

The Brewers signed Feliz out of free agency on a one-year deal. He said it has been a smooth transition.

"It's happened real quick. I feel like I'm home," Feliz said.

Maldonado meets old friends
Catcher Martin Maldonado, Milwaukee's longest-tenured player not named Ryan Braun until a December trade sent him to the Angels, caught up with old friends before Saturday's Cactus League game between the teams at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

The difference between the rebuilding Brewers and the experienced Angels was striking.

"I like it, man. We've got a great group of veteran guys who have been in the big leagues a couple of years," Maldonado said. "Guys like [Albert] Pujols, [Mike] Trout and even [Kole] Calhoun. Those are pretty special guys. They've welcomed me nicely. I'm glad to be here. When this team signed me, I always wondered as a young kid if I was going to play with that team. Finally, I got a chance."

The Angels drafted Maldonado in 2004 but released him in '07. He signed with the Brewers and made it to the Majors in '11, eventually forming a longtime catching tandem with Jonathan Lucroy.

Maldonado already had dinner this spring with Lucroy, who is in Arizona with the Rangers. And Maldonado remains in contact with many Brewers.

"I've got Wily [Peralta] there, you know? That's my compadre," Maldonado said. "I always talk to him, even in the offseason. I've been talking to him, to [Junior] Guerra, [Jhan] Marinez. I saw Scooter [Gennett], too. We were like a family. We came up together, we played together, so it's always nice to know those guys."

Villar, Nelson still unsigned
Eleven more of the Brewers pre-arbitration players took the somewhat formal step of signing 2017 contracts before Saturday's game against the Angels, leaving only infielder Jonathan Villar and pitcher Jimmy Nelson to accept a salary figure.

Villar was able to play in Saturday's game despite the fact he had yet to sign his contract because re-arbitration players are considered signed the moment the team tenders an offer. The Brewers employ a scale for compensating such players, removing subjectivity from negotiations. If Villar or Nelson remains unsigned in the second week of March, the team can unilaterally renew their contracts.

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.