MILWAUKEE -- Comparing his situation to the Braves' Kris Medlen in 2012, Brewers left-hander Chris Narveson said he was on board with going to the bullpen to begin the season.
The addition of free-agent veteran Kyle Lohse on Monday gave the Brewers the luxury of moving one of their projected starters to long relief. They chose Narveson, allowing the 31-year-old to ease into pitching after missing the final five months of last season following shoulder surgery.
"It kind of gives you a little bit of a break between [Spring Training] and cranking things up," Narveson said. "Considering it's 162 games, I'd rather be strong come August, September than be strong at the beginning and then all of a sudden you fade out to the end."
He referenced Medlen, the Braves right-hander who underwent Tommy John surgery late in 2010 and pitched only two games in 2011. When he came back healthy for 2012, the Braves used him in relief for the first four months of the season. After he shifted to the rotation beginning July 31, Medlen went 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA in 12 starts, then started the Braves' Wild Card game against the Cardinals.
Medlen is four years younger and a completely different pitcher, but his name did come up when Narveson discussed his role with Brewers officials.
"It was a collective [decision]," he said. "It's a team game, and we know we have to have 25 guys pulling one way. You don't read too much into it -- obviously, starting off in the rotation is always nice, but you're going to need more than five starters. You're going to need more help down the road, so just make yourself ready.
"I looked at what Medlen did last year, kind of the same thing, coming off an injury. They kind of took it easy with him at the start, and then all of a sudden, when it comes down to crunch time and he's 'the guy.'"
Narveson stressed that he was healthy and could have easily began the season in the rotation. The addition of Lohse just offered an alternate option.
"Let's look at this logistically in a smart way," Narveson said. "If we can do this, why not take advantage of it?"
Brewers officially set roster for Opening Day
MILWAUKEE -- Outfielder Khris Davis and right-hander Alfredo Figaro made the final cut when the Brewers set their Opening Day roster on Saturday.
Davis won the final bench spot over catcher/first baseman Blake Lalli, and Figaro won the final bullpen spot over fellow righty Donovan Hand. Officially, the Brewers purchased Figaro's contract and returned Hand, Lalli, catcher Anderson De La Rosa and first baseman/outfielder Sean Halton to Triple-A Nashville.
The Brewers' roster broke down like this:
Pitchers (13): John Axford, Burke Badenhop, Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers, Figaro, Yovani Gallardo, Michael Gonzalez, Tom Gorzelanny, Jim Henderson, Brandon Kintzler, Kyle Lohse, Chris Narveson and Wily Peralta.
Catchers (2): Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado.
Infielders (5): Yuniesky Betancourt, Alex Gonzalez, Aramis Ramirez, Jean Segura and Rickie Weeks.
Outfielders (5): Norichika Aoki, Ryan Braun, Davis, Carlos Gomez and Logan Schafer.
Disabled list (5): Jeff Bianchi, Mat Gamel (60-day DL), Taylor Green, Corey Hart, Mark Rogers.
Eight players are on a big league Opening Day roster for the first time: Davis, Fiers, Figaro, Henderson, Maldonado, Peralta, Schafer and Segura.
The Brewers went with 13 pitchers in part because Lohse just signed Monday after a very abbreviated Spring Training, and the extra arm will offer some coverage while he gets up to speed. Manager Ron Roenicke said the team would re-evaluate its alignment after playing several series.
He would prefer to return to a 12-man staff as soon as possible.
"When you look at a four-man bench and one of them has to be your backup catcher, who you can't afford to put in too early in games, you're really looking at a three-man bench. In a National League game, it's hard to do," Roenicke said. "We did it quite a bit last year -- it's hard to do."
Davis' right-handed power helped his cause, plus the fact that he was already on the 40-man roster, Roenicke said.
And of picking Figaro over Hand, Roenicke said the Brewers favored "more of a 'stuff' guy, being able to come in and really throw some good fastballs at people down in the zone. We liked his command. That's nothing against Donny Hand; he pitched great for us and opened a lot of eyes."
The Brewers figure to make some early-season changes. Besides returning to a 12-man pitching staff, infielder Green is expected to be the first man off the DL. His bid for Opening Day was scuttled by a left hip injury.
Green was to be the Brewers' backup at first base, but the club will instead start with a combination of shortstops Gonzalez and Betancourt and catcher Maldonado. General manager Doug Melvin and Roenicke both indicated the Brewers were not particularly interested in players who became available this week, including Daric Barton (waived by the A's) and Juan Rivera (released by the Yankees).
"Unless it's somebody a lot better, we're reluctant to make any moves," Roenicke said. "In part because we feel pretty comfortable with what we have now, and we know that Corey is coming back. Once Corey does come back, there is going to be a decision that has to be made."
The Brewers open their season on Monday at 1:10 p.m. CT against the Rockies at Miller Park.
Davis excited to make big league debut with Brewers
MILWAUKEE -- Khris Davis has had a very good week. On Tuesday, he got engaged. On Wednesday, he was informed that he'd slugged his way onto the Brewers' Opening Day roster.
His next milestone will be his Major League debut.
"It still hasn't hit me yet, really," said Davis, 25. "I don't know when it will."
Davis will serve as the Brewers' fifth outfielder and a power right-handed bat off the bench. The former seventh-round Draft pick, Milwaukee's No. 16 prospect according to MLB.com, forced his way into the Brewers' plans by belting a team-best six home runs in Spring Training games, plus another long blast in an exhibition against Canada's World Baseball Classic team that did not count in the official statistics, plus a team-best 16 RBIs.
The final cut came down to Davis and catcher/first baseman Blake Lalli, a left-handed hitter who, unlike Davis, was not on the 40-man roster. The Brewers picked Davis for his bat because he is mostly limited to left field by a below-average throwing arm. He figures to see very limited defensive duty unless something happens to regular left fielder Ryan Braun.
The next challenge, Davis said, is "Staying here. Not taking anything for granted. I'm going to keep working hard and helping the team with whatever I can do. Bring some energy to the table and be a good teammate. That's the best thing I can do right now."
Schafer to serve as Brewers' emergency catcher
MILWAUKEE -- With Blake Lalli out of the Brewers' Opening Day picture, someone else will have to serve as the emergency, third catcher. The pick comes as something of a surprise.
"I'm making a call to have my left-handed catcher's glove sent out," manager Ron Roenicke joked.
That's because Logan Schafer, an outfielder who bats and throws left-handed, is the Brewers' pick. He told Roenicke that he had experience catching.
Left-handed throwers rarely catch, but Roenicke did it in Little League when he wasn't pitching. He's puzzled why more lefties don't do it.
"You can still throw down [to second base], and if you're throwing to third, you have to step behind the runner anyway," Roenicke said. "You certainly throw to first base better. When you're going out to field a bunt or something, you don't have to spin; you just throw to first base.
"I don't know why it started. Now if you do it, I think pitchers freak out a little bit. I would catch some bullpens, even in the Major Leagues sometimes, and some pitchers look in there and freak out. They see the glove on the other hand, and they don't like it. Some of it is probably that."
But in a pinch, Schafer would do, Roenicke said. Last year, the emergency catcher was Taylor Green, and before that it was Casey McGehee. Neither was called into duty.
• Minor League infielder Hainley Statia wins the Brewers' frequent flier award. He played for The Kingdom of the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, so his travel in the past two months has gone like this -- Curacao to Phoenix to Taiwan (via San Francisco) to Japan, back to Phoenix, back to San Francisco, back to Phoenix and then to Milwaukee for the Brewers' exhibition games against the White Sox. On Sunday, he will catch a flight to Nashville, where Statia will begin the regular season with Milwaukee's Triple-A club.
He covered 17,000 air miles during the World Baseball Classic alone. The Netherlands made it into the tournament's final four.
"That doesn't bother me," Statia said. "As long as I'm playing baseball, it's fun."
• Right-hander Mike Fiers stayed behind in Arizona when the Brewers broke camp, and will pitch in a Minor League intrasquad game Sunday before rejoining the big league team. He will open the season in Milwaukee's starting rotation, probably as the No. 5 starter.
• If Fiers is No. 5 then Lohse would be No. 4, and would start Friday against the D-backs. If that's the case, he would miss the Brewers' April 14-16 series in St. Louis, where Lohse pitched from 2008-12.
"We've looked at that, and I don't want to start setting up the schedule for the matchups," Roenicke said.
Roenicke has been hesitant to announce a firm pitching plan beyond the opening series vs. Colorado because an off-day Thursday allows some flexibility for the schedule to change.