Notes: Brewers' double-vision in left
Veterans Mench and Jenkins will platoon in left field
FRISCO, Texas -- As planned since the start of Spring Training, the Brewers will enter the regular season by platooning Kevin Mench and Geoff Jenkins in left field.
Mench will start against left-handed pitchers and will also see action in right field. As expected, Mench still hates the idea because he considers himself an everyday player.
"I'm just not groomed that way," Mench said. "If I'm only going to play against lefties, what is that, 20 starts a year, 150 at-bats a year? I have proven I can play every day so I don't know why I should sit for a year, get 150 at-bats, and have them take away from my livelihood. I couldn't care less about the money, I just want to play."
In 20 games this spring, Mench hit .404 with three doubles, nine RBIs and one home run. Jenkins hit .400 with four doubles and 15 RBIs in 21 games.
"We will try to get as many at-bats as we can with them," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "[Brewers manager] Ned Yost talked to them both and he has told the whole team to be prepared because you may end up doing some platooning. So be prepared to play at any time and they both had very good springs. That is our mindset at this particular time."
Mench has much to build on. In 40 games with the Brewers last season, Mench hit .230 with one home run. He drove in 18 runs, struggling in his adjustment to the National League.
The Brewers' point: Mench hit .307 with 23 home runs and 67 RBIs against left-handers in his last three seasons, while Jenkins is hitting .297 with 56 home runs and 197 RBIs in 1,226 at-bats against right-handed pitchers during the same span.
Mench's point: He has had more than 400 at-bats each of the last three seasons and doesn't want to see that number go down.
"I still don't know what is going on here," Mench said. "Early on, they said 'it might be like this,' but nobody has said one word to me since, so I'm basically still in the dark. I can read between the lines, I guess. But this is my sixth year in the big leagues and I think I have done enough to be told what is going on either way.
"I don't know how Geoff has handled it so well," Mench continued. "He's been in the same organization for nine years and they don't tell him about what they are going to do. Leaving him in the dark is just not right. That should not be how business is done."
Melvin reiterated that trading Mench or Jenkins is not a possibility saying, "In the offseason we talked a little bit, but people thought we were going to give guys away and we are not going to do that."
Moreover, Mench is not shy about his desire to return to the Rangers. He and his wife live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He added that he feels the poor relationship with former Rangers manager Buck Showalter played a big role in his trade to Milwaukee last season.
"It's different coming home and not being a part of that club," he said. "It's tough. The cause that made me leave is gone now so I would love to come back. Let me tell you, I got more letters from fans this winter asking me to come back. I would have never expected that type of reception. It means a lot that the community has taken so well to me. I will never leave. I'm always going to keep my roots here and raise my kids here."
Jenkins downplayed the situation.
"It is what is and you just have to go and do your job when you are asked to," he said. "That's it. We just have to move forward."
Cordero comes home: Like Mench, Brewers closer Francisco Cordero spent part of the afternoon Friday chatting up with his former Rangers teammates. Cordero shined in the Rangers bullpen from 2000 to 2006 before the trade to Milwaukee.
"It's a little weird being with a team for seven years and then coming back against them, but otherwise everything is fine," Cordero said. "I feel good with my new team and I really enjoy being here. [I'm] looking forward to Opening Day and seeing what is going happen."
This spring, Cordero posted a 2.57 ERA in seven innings for the Brewers. He struck out five and walked one batter in seven appearances.
"I felt pretty good this spring and overall, I think we have a pretty good bullpen," he said. "We have a solid staff and good hitters. I think we have a good chance to win the division."
That's good news for Cordero and the Brewers. The 2007 campaign could be his last in Milwaukee. Cordero will become a free agent at the end of the season.
"I'm not going to worry about being a free agent because all I have to worry about is doing my job," he said. "It's not something that is on my mind and I'm not thinking I have to do a good job because I'm a free agent. I have to do a good job because that's what I am paid to do.
"I'm not going to talk about it," he continued. "My numbers are going to talk and my agent is going to do the other part."
Good run: Left-hander Joe Thatcher traveled with the team to Texas but has been told he will start the year at Double-A Huntsville, assistant general manager Gord Ash said.
"I enjoyed it," said Thatcher, who was promoted to big-league camp on March 15. "I think I came out and was aggressive, and that was important to me."
Thatcher got a rare mid-spring invitation to big-league camp and did not allow a run until his fourth appearance, on Tuesday against Oakland. He surrendered back-to-back home runs.
"It looks to us like he's going to have a future as a left-handed reliever at the Major League level," Yost said. "He's not young in terms of age, but in terms of experience, we've never seen him. We figured, let's take a look at him."
Slow start: The Brewers plan to use Corey Hart as the primary right fielder, but he led the club with 18 strikeouts this spring versus just one home run. Many of Hart's strikeouts were called, Yost noticed.
"He's not seeing the ball too good. [He] is thinking too much," said Yost, who insisted he's not concerned. "His history has been ... that he's really struggled at first and then really taken off."
Back off: Brewers starters dropped back to the 65-pitch range in their final spring tune-ups. It was part of pitching coach Mike Maddux's plan to have them feeling strong for the start of the season.
"You're getting their work in without overextending them," Yost said. "The first time or two they [throw 100 pitches] it's like, 'Whoa. What is that?' So you back them off a little bit, and then they're used to it."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.