MARYVALE, AZ — The guys most responsible for the Brewers’ fortunes this season have names like “Braun,” “Weeks,” “Greinke” and “Axford.” But sometimes, it’s the lesser-known players who play pretty big roles.
Being in camp with a division champion team like the Brewers is a blessing and a curse for fringe roster guys. It’s exciting to be a part of high expectations, but there aren’t many jobs to be claimed.
For instance, Taylor Green, Brooks Conrad, and Zelous Wheeler are vying for a reserve infield spot or two. Green showed he could swing the bat in limited time with Milwaukee last season. “It’s more reinforcement than anything, that you can do it and you’re on the right track, and I’m just looking to try to make the club,” Green said.
Conrad had his share of success as a backup for the Braves the last couple years. “It’s no different than I’ve done in every Spring Training, even with Atlanta. I was trying to win a job every year, so it’s something I’ve been used to and had to do every year of my career, so I’m excited for the opportunity,” Conrad said.
Wheeler is knocking on the door after playing at AA and AAA last year. He’s a versatile prospect. “All around – I play multiple positions. I just come out here and have fun. If I don’t get the job done one day, I will get it done the next day. If I don’t get it done at the plate, I’ll try to get it done in the field. Some way to help my team win the game,” Wheeler said.
Zelous Wheeler’s brother’s name is Brian. How can you have a Zelous and a Brian? Brian’s name would probably be pronounced correctly at a Minor League ballpark. Zelous? Not always the case! “Zeolis – one person called me Zeolis, Zealis, or something like that. Everybody spells it with an ‘a’ but it’s Zelous. Everybody asks me about it. I asked my mom and she said she just came up with it, and she doesn’t know how. No history of it, but it’s gone a long way,” Wheeler said.
Any one of these guys would simply like to be called a Major Leaguer when Spring Training ends.
Whoever makes the Opening Day roster will be with the team at Miller Park for the first game of the year, April 6th against the St. Louis Cardinals.