PHOENIX -- After working a scoreless inning in a "B" game Monday morning, new Brewers closer Eric Gagne was on pace for about 10 appearances this spring. He said he only needs half that to be ready. "I'm healthy, so I don't care," said Gagne, who had battled elbow and back injuries the past two springs. "The more I throw, the stronger I get. I think all I need is four or five times, but the more the better. I think it's really good for my arm strength." The Brewers allowed Gagne to pitch the early game so he could attend his oldest daughter Fay's school recital in the afternoon. Gagne's home is in nearby Paradise Valley.
He worked around an infield hit and a walk against Padres Minor Leaguers in a game that began just before 10 a.m. CT and was played in cool temperatures and a gusting wind. At one point during the inning, manager Ned Yost and a member of the team's athletic training staff visited Gagne on the mound after noticing him picking at his right thumb. It was nothing but small calluses, Gagne said later. Yost called it, "working man's hand." "It's so dry here," Gagne said. "They're not blisters, it just gets dry. I always get those in spring, but you get them worse here." He threw one curveball on Monday but otherwise worked to hone his fastball. He'll take a similar approach to his next outing, but at some point will start to focus on his signature changeup. "That's a pitch I know I've got," Gagne said. "So I don't need to work a lot on it, except for in bullpens." Not much to say: Jeff Suppan lets his performances do the talking. He often jokes with reporters that he has little to say after his outings, especially Spring Training ones, telling scribes just to use his comments from last year. Here's what he said on Monday, after allowing two runs in two innings of work in his 2008 Cactus League debut: "I felt pretty good," Suppan said. "I went out there just to work on fastball command, first time out. ... It's just building. You keep building, and building and building. I obviously have a lot of things to work on, but I did execute some fastballs and my command was better than the intrasquad game. My first goal is go out there and have fastball command."
And here's what he said on March 5, 2007, after working three innings in his first game in a Brewers uniform."I felt that my goal going on into the game, especially in Spring Training, is work on fastball command," he said. "And I feel like I need to continue to work on that, but for most of the innings I threw I was able to locate in a general area and so I'll continue to improve upon that." As the rotation currently lines up, Suppan is slated to pitch the second game of the regular season, on April 2 against the Cubs. No worries: Yost was not concerned that Prince Fielder's displeasure with his new contract would affect his effort on the field. Fielder's contract was renewed Sunday and he will earn $675,000 in 2008. Fielder was seeking a deal more in line with the $900,000 that Philadelphia's Ryan Howard received in 2007. "Prince is a little disturbed, but when he walks through the door, that stays out," Yost said. "He doesn't bring all that in here. ... I don't have to talk to him about it because I know it's not an issue." Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, who on Sunday defended the club's handling of Fielder's contract and argued that the player, not the team, chooses a renewal, pointed out Monday that the Marlins' Hanley Ramirez was renewed at $439,000, or $236,000 less than Fielder. Ramirez, the 2006 National League Rookie of the Year, batted .332 last season with 29 home runs and 81 RBIs. Homecoming: Beginning Tuesday at 9 a.m., the Brewers will be selling tickets to the March 28-29 exhibitions against the Royals at Miller Park. The team also announced that the annual "On Deck" fan event would take place before the final exhibition game of Spring Training. All tickets to the Miller Park exhibitions will cost $10, and regular season weekday parking rates apply. Tickets and parking passes can be purchased at Brewers.com, via telephone at (414) 902-4000 or at the Miller Park box office. The Friday game is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. and the Saturday game is at 2:05 p.m. Fans will need a ticket to Saturday's game for admission to the fan event, which begins at 10 a.m. and will include autograph and photo opportunities, baseball clinics, a Brewers Charities rummage sale and a live radio broadcast with players and coaches. Last call: Right-hander Yovani Gallardo expects to throw off a mound on Thursday. It would be his first mound action since undergoing arthroscopic right knee surgery on Feb. 19. Gallardo would need to participate in several bullpen sessions before appearing in a game. ... Yost was particularly pleased with right-hander Derrick Turnbow's performance in Monday's "A" game against San Diego. Turnbow worked a 1-2-3 third inning. ... Hall of Famer Robin Yount left his puppy chocolate Labrador "Uecker" at home and made his first appearance in Brewers camp. Yount spent the 2006 season as the Brewers' bench coach, a spot now filled by Ted Simmons. Yount bought the puppy at a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club. On deck: The Brewers travel to Mesa on Tuesday for their first spring showdown against the Cubs, who edged them by two games in the National League Central last season, at 2:05 p.m. Claudio Vargas starts for Milwaukee against former Cubs closer Ryan Dempster. Fielder, catcher Jason Kendall and outfielder Corey Hart are among the players scheduled to get a day off. After Vargas, who is penciled in for three innings and 50 pitches, Chris Narveson, Brian Shouse, Seth McClung and Steve Bray are scheduled to pitch.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.