‘It motivates you:’ Milwaukee Brewers compete for roster spots

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- So many times, the rosters in Major League Baseball are already filled by the time the guys arrive at spring training. But on the field at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, Arizona, the Brewers have so many competitive positions open for guys fighting for a job.

"It's not some boogeyman over in the corner. It's real and you've got to acknowledge it," said Brewers' Manager Craig Counsell.

In January, the outfielders already on the roster, like Brett Phillips, had to acknowledge their situation as the Brewers traded for Christian Yelich and signed free agent, Lorenzo Cain.

"Nothing changes for me," said Phillips. "Last year it was the same situation with a lot of outfield talent. This year, the same situation, a lot of outfield talent. So for me it's just a matter of working hard, continue to get better on a daily basis and then when my opportunity arises, just take advantage of it, right? Whether it's small or big, when an opportunity comes about, I just have to take advantage of it."

Maybe the biggest competition this spring is on the mound as two spots in the starting rotation are up for grabs.

"It motivates you," said Yovani Gallardo, Brewers' pitcher.

Yovani Gallardo is back with the Brewers after spending the last three seasons with three different teams. But unlike when he was here before, he doesn't have one of the guaranteed spots.

"It motivates you to work even harder and prove, you know, prove people wrong in a way, and go out there and show everybody that I'm still capable of pitching the way that I did back then," Gallardo said.

Another veteran is in the same position, as Wade Miley is trying to prove that his recent scuffles over the past few seasons are a thing of the past.

"You've just got to go compete and make pitches and do the best you can and make the toughest decision possible for those guys when it comes down to picking who's going to be where," said Wade Miley, Brewers' pitcher.

As the guys are fighting for the same job, there is a sense of camaraderie that goes hand in hand with the competition for Brent Suter.

"Off the field, just getting to know him, becoming friends with him and treating him like a teammate I've had for years is the biggest key. Because out there, we'll compete our hardest but off the white lines, he's a teammate. You know what I mean, he's a guy, he's a brother. So, it's just one of those things, you just adopt him right into the clubhouse fold and everything goes from there,' said Brent Suter, Brewers' pitcher.

Craig Counsell

"They don't run from competition. Like, the competition is there. It's been a part of their life the whole way up. They've always had it. They've dealt with it before. It's not something new. You treat it with respect," said Counsell.

The Brewers also have a battle at second base and for the backup catching duties. Those positions will be filled in the next two weeks as they'll open up the regular season in San Diego on March 29 with their home opener coming up on April 2 against St. Louis.