PHOENIX -- Kyle Lohse, who barely pitched last year in Spring Training because he lasted so long into free agency, did not think he would get to pitch Saturday because of Mother Nature.
"I mean, when they say 100 percent chance of rain, you're figuring it's going to rain," the Brewers right-hander said.
It did rain overnight and sporadically throughout the morning, but by game time the skies had cleared and Lohse was on the mound at Maryvale Baseball Park to work against the Dodgers, a welcome bit of normalcy. This time last year, he was still throwing bullpen sessions at the Fischer Institute, a workout and physical therapy facility in South Phoenix, "dodging guys that were getting ready for the NFL combine." He later pitched simulated games against the likes of Grand Canyon University and Scottsdale Community College.
On Saturday, Lohse threw 21 of his 28 pitches for strikes in two scoreless innings against Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers.
"I would have liked to get a few more ground balls," said Lohse, who recorded five of his six outs in the air. "One of them was decently hit, but otherwise I was on the edges of the strike zone, throwing strikes. They didn't really square anything up."
He was particularly fond of his sequence against Puig, who looked at a curveball for a strike, pulled an inside sinker fair and then hit a changeup for an easy flyout to left field in the first inning.
"We're not throwing [as if it were] completely a game situation," Lohse said. "But talking to 'Luc' [catcher Jonathan Lucroy], we were going to mix it up, have fun and throw strikes, try to set the tone. I told one of the young guys, 'That's what happens if you go out there and throw strikes and you don't fall behind. More than likely, that's the result you are going to get.'"
Brewers to get first game look at Garza on Sunday
PHOENIX -- The Brewers' first $50 million arm is about to produce its first pitch.
Matt Garza, whose four-year contract set a club record for a free agent, is scheduled to make his unofficial debut against the Rockies on Sunday at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Ariz. Like the rest of Milwaukee's starters, Garza's first outing will last two innings or about 35 pitches.
Garza's debut can be heard via webcast on Brewers.com and MLB.com by broadcasters Brian Anderson and Joe Block.
"I'm sure he's going to get after it," said catcher Jonathan Lucroy, referencing Garza's famously fiery personality. "I like it. It's something a pitcher needs, I think. A certain level of [intensity], at least."
Lucroy was not sure whether he would be behind the plate on Sunday, but he has already begun the process of getting to know the Brewers' biggest offseason addition. The battery could be together for some time; Lucroy is signed through 2016, with a club option for another season, and Garza's deal runs through 2017, with an option for 2018.
"He's the kind of guy who has a plan in his mind and knows what he likes to do, and we're going to go off that," Lucroy said. "We'll just have to see what he likes to do first. We'll communicate before the game and talk about it and decide what he wants to work on. Spring Training is always like that. It's just a matter of feel.
"Spring Training is obviously a time where we have to get used to each other. He'll see how I like to catch, and I'll see how he likes to pitch. We'll make it work."
Peralta might not be caught exclusively by Maldonado
PHOENIX -- The Wily Peralta-Martin Maldonado battery worked well in the second half of 2013, but the Brewers are open to a new catching rotation this year, manager Ron Roenicke said.
Maldonado is the Brewers' defensively sound backup catcher, and pairing him with the rookie Peralta made sense because they share a first language, had worked together for years in the Minor Leagues, and because Maldonado's tough-love style helped keep Peralta's emotions from getting the best of him. Starting catcher Jonathan Lucroy mostly caught the other four starting pitchers.
This season could be different.
"I don't know. We've talked about it," Roenicke said. "We really liked Maldy working with 'Yo' [Yovani Gallardo] yesterday, and we talked about that a little bit. It's different depending on the needs of that pitcher.
"With Peralta last year, we thought it was the personality of Maldy being able to control the emotional guy. It changes with everybody else. There's some guys that you'd like to match up because that pitcher will never shake off a pitch. So who's your better game-caller? It changes year to year by the personnel you have in there.
"Our two catchers, both of them bring us something different. Maldy, I thought, was important last year with Wily. Now Wily may be at a stage this year where he doesn't have to have Maldy back there, especially if there's a left-handed pitcher going that night. The way Luc hits lefties, maybe it's a better idea to get Luc in there. But we need to get Wily going on a roll, and once he's on a roll, I don't think it really matters who catches him."
Peralta has said he began offseason workouts earlier this year to avoid the slow start that has marked many of his professional seasons. He pitched two scoreless innings against the A's on Thursday, and without revealing the exact numbers, Roenicke said Peralta's "velocities were ridiculous for this early."
"And I didn't think he was overthrowing," Roenicke said. "He threw some good sliders, some good changeups, which he's working on trying to get more into his game this year. I thought he was pretty impressive."
• Pitching coach Rick Kranitz had very high praise for top prospect Jimmy Nelson's work in an intrasquad game Friday, according to Roenicke. Kranitz has seen a particularly intense young pitcher so far in camp.
"He's different than the other guys," Roenicke said. "He gets after it. Sometimes you've got to back him off that a little bit, control him a little bit. But I like that. I like that mentality."
• Francisco Rodriguez is by far the Brewers' most seasoned reliever, and he said he embraces the role of baseball mentor.
"Being a leader -- It's something that I like," he said. "I like to lead them and guide them, like, 'Listen, I usually throw this pitch in this situation.' This game is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical. Physically, the stuff is going to be there, but I want them to be mentally strong and have a short memory when they don't do the job. Make sure to wrap it up and go get them the next day."
• As of 3 p.m. CT, the Brewers had sold a total of 91,000 single-game tickets on the first day of being on sale, 4,000 more than last year and one of the highest numbers of total tickets sold in a single day in Brewers history.
In addition, the club announced that Opening Day (March 31 vs. the Braves) is sold out, except for a limited number of tickets that remain as part of Season Seat packages. Several additional games have very limited inventory remaining.