MIL@COL: Garza on his first Spring Training start

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke assured the media Thursday that Matt Garza is healthy, and said the club isn't concerned about the right-hander's slow spring start.

In three Cactus League starts since signing a four-year $50 million contract, Garza is 0-2 with a 19.06 ERA. He surrendered 10 runs (six earned) on nine hits in 1 2/3 innings Wednesday against the Angels, the other team that bid for his services over the winter. The Brewers committed two errors behind him and generally played sloppily, but Garza conceded afterward that he was not sharp with his breaking balls.

"We have conversations with him all the time," Roenicke said. "'Kranny' [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] talked to him yesterday after the game; I talked to him a little bit today. It's ongoing, so it's not like you bring a guy in and say, 'What's going on?' Garza is an experienced guy; he's been through this a lot. He's been through some down times; he's been through the really good times. He's not concerned about it; I'm not concerned about it.

"Now, if we go into all six of his starts and we don't see anything getting better, then we say, 'What's going on?' I think as long as we talk all through this -- not just with him but all of the guys, even the guys that are going well, there's constant conversations -- I'm not that concerned about what happens early. I'd certainly like to see him throw a couple of good games before we start up. But who knows? He could go in and pitch the first game and be lights-out. We don't know."

Garza's next outing could be in Minor League camp, Roenicke said, as the Brewers align their starting pitchers for the regular season.

K-Rod still sidelined from garden misstep

Roenicke on K-Rod's injury, Gorzelanny's progress

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Brewers' doctor was still pulling spines from Francisco Rodriguez's left foot Thursday, three days after the veteran reliever accidentally stepped on a cactus and gave a painfully new meaning to the term, "plant foot."

Rodriguez missed his scheduled Cactus League debut against the Padres and was barely able to play catch because of the mishap, which Rodriguez said happened Monday night when he was trying to corral his son in the backyard at dusk. He still believes he has time to prepare for Opening Day, but that thought could not completely ease his discomfort.

"As soon as I stepped on it, I went on the ground and looked at my foot and there were spines all over my foot," Rodriguez said. "I just jumped on one leg [back to the house] and started pulling it out with my hand. My girl went to Walgreens to buy some little tweezers and pulled some out. I left a lot in there because it was too painful and my foot swelled up. The next day, I tried to take some more out and I couldn't because it was too swollen so I couldn't see the spines. I couldn't even put my foot on the ground and that's when I called the trainers and told them what happened."

Dr. Craig Young showed reporters images of some of the dozen or so spines pulled from Rodriguez's foot, some as long as a quarter. Young believes more spines will work their way back to the surface in the coming days.

"It's painful. I've done it before," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. "I hunt some, and a lot of times I hunt around cactus, so I'm always getting cactus in either your ankle or your foot or your knee."

Rodriguez played catch Thursday morning, "but couldn't get out there real long," Roenicke said. "I don't know about [Friday], either. We'll see what he's like when he comes in. I don't know."

The Brewers' season begins March 31 at Miller Park against the Braves, and Rodriguez, who was already behind the other pitchers because he signed so late in the offseason, vowed to be ready.

"That's the last thing I'm concerned about," he said. "I'll be there [Opening Day], I'll be fine."

In the meantime, Rodriguez was hearing some new cactus jokes from his teammates.

"Oh yeah, I've heard plenty already," he said with a smile. "There's still more to come. I'm expecting something to come up around 9:30 or 9:45 [a.m.] in the [daily team] meeting."

Opening Day set, but rest of rotation in flux

MIL@SD: Estrada dominates Padres for 5 2/3 innings

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Yovani Gallardo will start Opening Day for the Brewers and Kyle Lohse gets Game No. 2. After that, manager Ron Roenicke is still mulling his options.

Matt Garza, Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta are expected to fill out the Brewers' starting five, but the nature of the team's early-season schedule gives Roenicke and pitching coach Rick Kranitz a lot to think about. The Brewers open with three games at home against the Braves from March 31 to April 2, followed by a day off, then three games in Boston including the Fenway Park opener, then three games in Philadelphia, including the Citizens Bank Park opener.

At the moment, Roenicke suggested he is leaning toward starting Estrada or Peralta in Game No. 3 against the Braves and reserving Garza to pitch in Boston on April 4, when the Red Sox will be receiving their championship rings. Garza, who spent some of his best years in the American League East with the Tampa Bay Rays, is 7-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 19 games against the Red Sox, including 5-3 with a 3.81 ERA in nine starts at Fenway Park.

"You overthink these things, like we do every year, and they don't work out the way you think they're going to," Roenicke said with a shrug. "I don't want to say who's better than whom, but say you have three guys that are really good or four guys that are really good, do you want to win every game you can as soon as you can, or do you back one of those guys off because he's got more experience against, say, a Boston? He's performed well against them. Those are the things we're looking at.

"Then it's, 'OK, who's better when we go to Philly?' It gets to the point like you're overthinking things instead of maybe just winning the games as soon as you can. … They're all good teams. So it's almost like, 'Just line them up and we'll go.'"

Estrada, who worked 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Padres on Thursday in the Brewers' finest start this spring, said he has yet to get an assignment.

"It doesn't matter for me," he said. "I just want to be part of that five-man rotation wherever it is."

Last call

• Second baseman Rickie Weeks had no overnight setbacks, so it seemed clear that the "pop" he felt in his left hamstring during Wednesday's game against the Angels was indeed scar tissue breaking free. Weeks called that "a great thing," and Roenicke agreed.

"He's going to run around and see how it is today, but he's looser than he was, so I think it's a good thing," Roenicke said. "I haven't had an injury like that, but they say that the guys that do major injuries, it's usually the case that you have to break the stuff loose before it's back to feeling [100 percent]."