PHOENIX -- Thank goodness for Brewers reliever Brandon Kintzler's quick reflexes. Without them, he would have been in a world of pain on Wednesday night.
Pitching against the D-backs on Wednesday night, Kintzler reacted quickly enough on an A.J. Pollock comebacker to deflect it with the meaty, outside edge of his left hand and into Kintzler's stomach. Without that deflection, the baseball would have stuck Kintzler in a most unfortunate place.
Oh, and there's this:
"I don't wear a cup," Kintzler said. "The Padres had a rule to wear cups, and as soon as I left them I didn't want to wear them anymore. A know a lot of pitchers who don't wear cups; it gets in the way."
Kintzler does not remember much about the play. He hit the dirt, but recovered in time to throw out Pollock to end the inning. When he got to the clubhouse, he was surprised to see his elbow and knee were bleeding. He also thought his hand was broken.
"I don't know, I blacked out," Kintzler joked. "I was asking [Jim] Henderson, 'Did I fall to the ground?' But it's good -- it's just a bruise."
Aramis returns to lineup after extended absence
PHOENIX -- Third baseman Aramis Ramirez grounded into a double play and reached on an infield single against the Indians Friday, a successful return to the lineup after missing just shy of two weeks with a sprained right knee.
"My speed is back," Ramirez joked. "I got an infield hit -- I'm flying again."
Ramirez said he planned to start again on Saturday against the Reds before taking Sunday off, then would compile as many at-bats as possible in the remaining 13 days of Spring Training.
"We don't have that much time left right now," Ramirez said. "I expect everything to be normal."
Shortstop Jeff Bianchi, sidelined during the same span by a groin strain, could be next. He was expected to be a full participant in the Brewers' Friday morning workout, and Roenicke said Bianchi could return to action for Saturday's game against the Reds.
Roenicke making final decisions on Gallardo, Rogers
PHOENIX -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke used "Yovani Gallardo" and "Opening Day" in the same sentence for the first time on Friday, making it unofficially official that the right-hander will start a fourth consecutive season opener.
Gallardo returned from the World Baseball Classic to start Wednesday against the D-backs, and the Brewers are tentatively planning to bring him back on three days' rest for a limited outing on Sunday against the Dodgers in Glendale, Ariz. That would line him up to pitch every fifth day leading to the Brewers' April 1 season opener against the Rockies at Miller Park.
Another member of Team Mexico, Marco Estrada, could also come back a day early to pitch a few innings Monday against the Indians, lining him up for the second game of the regular season.
"That's how we're lining it up, and if everything goes smooth, I think that's what we'll do going into the regular season," Roenicke said. "We haven't just said, 'This is exactly what we're doing with them,' but we're trying to line it up that way. From there, we'll see how everybody else falls into place."
Candidates for the other three spots in the rotation include left-hander Chris Narveson and right-handers Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta and Mark Rogers.
"I know who I am kind of thinking of and what's going to happen, but I don't want to say that right now," Roenicke said.
What to do with Rogers remains a quandary for Roenicke and his staff. The former first-round Draft pick is out of Minor League options and pitched well for the Brewers late last season, but he is working with diminished velocity this spring and erratic command, leading to 10 walks versus one strikeout in Cactus League games.
"He's going to probably throw some type of a simulated game here in the next [number] of days, and [then] we'll kind of re-evaluate and see what we're going to do there," Roenicke said. "We've talked to him and want to figure out what's the next step to get him back to that guy we saw last year in September."
One option is moving Rogers to relief, if only temporarily.
"Rick [Kranitz, the team's pitching coach] has talked about that, and is going to do some things here with him in the next couple of days, and then see whether it's a Minor League game, an inning or two in relief for us, we're going to try to figure that out," Roenicke said. "Right now, I don't have him scheduled to start a Major League game, but that's not to say that he won't do it."
Despite the options Rogers may have, he has been clear he wants to start.
"From the way he threw last year and what we saw, he feels like he can do it and we want to give him the opportunity to do it," Roenicke said. "But we need to get him back to pitching that way before we move on with him. … The biggest thing is let's get him right. [Then] figure out what we're trying to do."
Henderson not concerned about mechanical flaw
PHOENIX -- Brewers reliever Jim Henderson spent the team's off-day Thursday looking at video of recent Spring Training outings, and he discovered a mechanical flaw that Henderson believes could explain his struggles so far.
The 30-year-old, who broke through to the Major Leagues last season after parts of 10 years in the Minors, has surrendered nine earned runs, eight hits and eight walks in 5 1/3 innings. That includes Cactus League outings with the Brewers, two World Baseball Classic games for Team Canada plus his scoreless inning in Canada's pre-tournament exhibition against the Brewers. His velocity has been fine, but Henderson's command has been erratic.
"I'm not too worried about it," Henderson said. "We'll fix one thing, and that will help the whole delivery."
Henderson said he was beginning his delivery with his hands too close together, which gave him trouble "clearing" his right hip as he began to rotate, which in turn altered his arm slot. He planned to work on the adjustment in a side session Friday, and he is scheduled to pitch an inning against the Reds on Saturday.
"With my kind of funky delivery, the timing needs to be right," Henderson said.
Henderson is still penciled in as the Brewers' setup man to closer John Axford. He succeeded in that role during the second half of 2012 to the tune of a 3.52 ERA in 36 games.
• Whether the U.S. or Puerto Rico won their elimination game Friday in the World Baseball Classic, it was to bring good news for the Brewers: One of their catchers is coming home. Jonathan Lucroy has been playing for Team USA and Martin Maldonado for Puerto Rico, and Roenicke has been eager for one of them to come back to resume working with Brewers pitchers.
• Estrada's three-inning, 52-pitch outing in a Minor League intrasquad game Thursday represented quite a change of scenery. His previous start was in front of 19,581 fans, for Team Mexico in a World Baseball Classic game against Canada that included a late-inning brawl.
On Thursday, Estrada didn't even know who he was pitching for. It might have been Triple-A Nashville. Or Double-A Huntsville. Maybe it was a mix.
"All I know was it was our own guys," Estrada said.