Notes: Cordero's debut fast, smooth
Capuano much improved; Corredor relishes game-winner
PHOENIX -- His velocity might have been a bit below regular-season standards, but Brewers closer Francisco Cordero was otherwise in midseason form.
The team has taken it slow with Cordero to avoid the sore shoulder he experienced last spring while with Texas. He made his first Cactus League appearance versus the Royals on Friday and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning in an eventual 7-6 Brewers win.
"It was a pretty good feeling to get out and pitch an inning against hitters," he said.
Cordero threw fastballs and sliders but, because the inning was over after nine pitches, did not get to feature his changeup. He struck out the first two hitters he faced, including former Brewers farmhand Graham Koonce on a called third strike, and induced an inning-ending flyout.
Brewers manager Ned Yost said Cordero's velocity appeared below the 97-99 mph he threw last season, but he saw a sharp breaking ball.
"I don't know what the velocity was, but it felt good," Cordero said. "I feel like the ball was coming out pretty good."
That was not the case last year at this time. Cordero worked out in the Dominican Republic to prepare for the inaugural World Baseball Classic and developed shoulder irritation. He posted an 11.45 April ERA and lost the Rangers closer role.
He said he is OK with the team's cautious approach. Cordero will pitch every "three days or so" until the end of spring.
"They told me they want to get me ready for Opening Day, and that's really my main goal," he said. "It's not like it's something wrong with my arm or anything like that."
Much better: Chris Capuano started for Milwaukee and fared much better than in his previous outing against the Angels. He pitched three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and no walks and striking out a pair.
"I felt like I could have gone out in a regular game," Capuano said. "I felt good."
Capuano threw two bullpen sessions since his last start. The first was Tuesday, and Capuano threw only fastballs and focused on location. On Wednesday, he brought the catcher up to about 50 feet -- 10 feet shorter than the distance from the mound to home plate -- and worked on offspeed stuff.
"If anything, it helps me keep the ball down more," he said of that second session. "It's easier to hit your spots at that distance. I like to see the ball go right where I want. ... By bringing the catcher up, I feel like I can get the work in without putting stress on my arm."
Unlikely hero: Clubhouse favorite Nestor Corredor, the sixth or seventh catcher on the organization's depth chart, delivered the two-out, two-run single that lifted the Brewers to a win on Friday. As he trotted to first, Corredor pumped his fist, a bit of an uncommon sight in Spring Training games.
"That's emotion," he said. "I'm so happy for the team, and me."
"Everybody likes him," Yost said. "He works hard. His day, pretty consistently, is about an hour and a half of bullpens. He's a kid that's really known for his catching and throwing. He made some really nice throws today."
But he also had one really big hit. A throwing error by third baseman Vinny Rottino aided a three-run Royals ninth inning, but the Brewers rallied back in the bottom of the inning. Rottino walked, loading the bases, and Corredor delivered the game-winner to left field.
General manager Doug Melvin pointed out an irregularity: All four Brewers involved in the play were catchers (Mike Rivera, JD Closser, Rottino and Corredor).
Does Corredor worry about a fine in kangaroo court for the fist pump?
"I'll take that fine," he said with a smile.
Roster move: After the game, the Brewers returned shortstop Yohannis Perez to Minor League camp. The Cuban defector is playing organized baseball for the first time in about two years.
"He actually did a nice job," Yost said. "Being rusty and being new to an organization, it's good to get him in the program over there instead of having him sit over here."
The Brewers' Spring Training roster has been pared from 55 to 50 in the last two days.
Slow going: Third baseman Ryan Braun added some soft toss to his repertoire late this week, but he is scheduled to see head physician William Raasch this weekend before getting cleared to throw.
Braun has complained of a sore throwing elbow and has not played since March 2.
"All I know is that the trainers tell me he is not able to play right now," said assistant general manager Gord Ash on Thursday. "We always want to err on the side of caution. There is nothing to be gained or proved on March 8."
Last call: Tony Graffanino could be back in action as soon as Saturday. He fouled a ball off his left big toe during the week, and it became infected. ... Craig Counsell started at third on Friday after sitting out Thursday with the stomach bug that has afflicted a number of players and coaches in camp, including Yost and center fielder Bill Hall. "It was just awful," Counsell said. ... Outfielder Gabe Gross (hamstring) and catcher Damian Miller (calf) have been taking batting practice but are unable to run. ... Catcher Johnny Estrada, who has a hit in all eight of his Cactus League games, will get a day off on Saturday when the Brewers play his former team, the Diamondbacks. Lefty Dana Eveland, who went to Arizona in the trade that brought Estrada to Milwaukee, is scheduled to start for the opposition. ... Yost's wife, Debbie, is making her first visit to Maryvale Baseball Park during Yost's tenure. She walks a two-mile loop around the ballpark every morning. "It's great to have her here," Yost said.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.