Cooper announces bullpen roles
Brocail to set up Valverde; Villareal to pitch sixth, seventh
SAN DIEGO -- The back end of the bullpen was a work in progress during Spring Training, but the original blue print appears to still be intact now that the regular season has begun.
Doug Brocail will assume eighth-inning duties, while Oscar Villarreal can expect most of his playing time to arrive in the sixth and seventh frames. The two will build the bridge to closer Jose Valverde, the National Leauge's saves leader in 2007.
Manager Cecil Cooper informed each pitcher of his role prior to Monday's opener with the Padres, acknowledging the importance of relievers knowing ahead of time where they fit.
"They can relax a little bit, go out and prepare for that," Cooper said. "Try and stay true to form. Obviously, the games change sometimes. Situations change. But it gives them an idea of where they stand and what's going to happen and when."
Cooper also said he would work in rookie left-hander Wesley Wright in non-pressure situations early on, and that he wasn't going to necessarily use the 23-year-old reliever to only face left-handed hitters. Wright entered Monday's game in the seventh inning and faced left-handed Brian Giles, who grounded to short.
"He's been effective, period," Cooper said. "I'm not labeling him as a lefty specialist kind of deal. Initially, we'll try to get him in situation where faces left-handers. We'll find the best time to get him in a game, in a low-pressure situation."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.