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Brewers debating roster moves

Brewers debating roster moves

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PHOENIX -- Brewers officials squeezed in an impromptu Sunday morning roster debate, and manager Ned Yost said that he expects the team to be set by Thursday, the end of its Arizona spring schedule.

The Brewers are scheduled to travel to Milwaukee on Thursday night and will face the Royals on Friday and Saturday. Teams must finalize their 25-man rosters by midday that Sunday.

"We're not going to take guys on the plane, guessing if they made the team or not," Yost said.

While the Brewers will inform players of the plan, team officials will wait until the last moment to make moves official, in case a player suffers an injury over the weekend.

Yost, his coaches and Brewers front office officials have yet to finalize plans for the starting rotation behind Ben Sheets and Jeff Suppan, one final bullpen slot (though the team has settled on a seven-man bullpen, not eight) and backup infield and catcher spots. Joe Dillon and Abraham Nunez are vying for the infield opening, and Eric Munson and Mike Rivera are the candidates to back up starting catcher Jason Kendall.

Both decisions could come down to defense vs. offense, Yost said. He sees Rivera as the stronger defensive option, but Munson would bring a left-handed bat to a heavily right-handed team. Those lines are more blurred in the Dillon vs. Nunez debate, but Nunez is a slick defender who can play anywhere on the infield and Dillon made a strong offensive impression on the Brewers last season.

Nunez, though, is a switch-hitter, a factor that works in his favor, and Dillon not only plays serviceable defense at second and third base, he could serve as first baseman Prince Fielder's primary backup and fill-in, if needed, in the outfield, too.

"Dillon gives you a good at-bat against a right- or a left-handed pitcher and he's multi-positional," Yost said. "He'll give you a great at-bat every time he steps in the box. That's all you can ask for, and it's really hard to do."

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The debate will continue this week.

"There's still some debate but the issues are getting clearer," Yost said. "We're not looking at spots, we're looking at players. ... Positionally, we're pretty set, but we're looking at bench spots. That's where we're looking. Who sits on the bench?

"And you're still planning out, what do you do now, and what do you do 30 days from now when [suspended outfielder Mike] Cameron comes back? What do we do 15 days from now when [injured pitcher Yovani] Gallardo comes back? We're trying to get all our ducks in a row."

Assuming there are no rainouts, Cameron will be eligible to return to the Brewers on April 29, for the start of a three-game series at Wrigley Field against the Cubs. Gallardo was placed on the 15-day disabled list last week while he rehabs from knee surgery.

"[Those later moves] are going to be every bit as difficult as they are now," Yost said. "This is just the first round of difficult moves."

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

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