PHOENIX -- The Brewers are mulling whether to carry four or five outfielders at the start of the season and have already asked infielders Jeff Bianchi and Donnie Murphy to give the outfield a shot this spring, manager Ron Roenicke said.
Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Norichika Aoki are the team's starters from left to right field, and Logan Schafer is penciled in as the top backup. Mat Gamel was supposed to serve as a versatile fifth outfielder, available to play the corner infield positions and corner outfield positions, but that changed in January when first baseman Corey Hart underwent knee surgery, then changed again this month when Gamel suffered a season-ending knee injury of his own.
"If we don't have that [fifth option] that can go out there on defense, it limits us sometimes in using Schafer earlier in the game," Roenicke said. "We're looking at that, figuring out which is the better way to go -- with the extra infielder or that fifth outfielder."
Bianchi or Murphy could fill that need as hybrid players -- Bianchi has already expressed a willingness to give the outfield a shot, and Murphy played a Minor League game there. Another possibility is Bobby Crosby, who played a game in right field for the A's in 2009, but Crosby remained sidelined Thursday by a left thigh strain. Bianchi, Murphy and Crosby are all right-handed hitters; Schafer hits lefty.
Bianchi, a natural shortstop, hit .188 in 33 games with the Brewers last season. He is already on the 40-man roster and is out of Minor League options. Crosby and Murphy are non-roster invitees. As of Thursday, the Brewers had yet to ask another utility infield candidate, Taylor Green, to try a similar transition.
"I don't see him doing that, although you don't know," Roenicke said. "If we decide we need that left-handed bat and that's what we want, then we'll probably have a discussion with him and get him out there working on it."
If they go instead with a true fifth outfielder, the leading candidate is 24-year-old Caleb Gindl, who is already on his usual Spring Training tear. Gindl was 5-for-9 through Thursday.
"He and Schafer, they're always doing good things in Spring Training," Roenicke said.
Crosby's return delayed by strained thigh
PHOENIX -- Former American League Rookie of the Year Bobby Crosby's comeback remained on hold Thursday because of a minor leg injury.
Crosby, a non-roster invitee to Brewers camp who has not played baseball since 2010, strained his left thigh last week and still felt some discomfort in a running drill several days ago, manager Ron Roenicke said. Crosby tested the leg again on Thursday by running through the usual array of pregame drills.
"We're hoping this thing doesn't go much longer," Roenicke said. "I wouldn't think it would, but I also told him we have to make sure it's gone before he plays again, because if he pulls it again, we're talking a long time now."
Roenicke said there is plenty of Spring Training remaining for Crosby to get on the field and make the team.
"That's what I told him, I said, 'I understand where you need to be back on the field, but we've got a long time to go,'" Roenicke said. "I'm not going to really bear down on [evaluating] these extra guys until the last couple of weeks of spring. … I don't want to make any quick decisions here."
Crosby, 33, is in the running for the final spot on the Brewers' bench, and could help fill in at first base early in the season while Corey Hart works back from knee surgery.
Italian Sausage Guido thankfully returned
PHOENIX -- Oh, Guido. Always getting into trouble.
The Brewers were happy to learn late Wednesday that a missing link from their Famous Racing Sausage team had been found at a bar in Cedarburg, Wis. The $3,000 Italian Sausage, who goes by the name Guido, had been stolen from an event in the northern Milwaukee suburb two weeks earlier. After the caper made national news on Wednesday, someone dropped Guido on a barstool and made a break for it.
This particular costume is owned by Klement's and not the Brewers, but team spokesperson Tyler Barnes was nonetheless happy to hear that Guido had been returned with his casing in tact.
"This is the power of the press," Barnes said.
The Brewers own two copies of the five-man racing team, one for Miller Park and another for Maryvale Baseball Park. They are available for hire, but the Brewers send racers along with the costumes to keep an eye out for would-be sausage snatchers.
Guido has been in the national spotlight before. In 2003, the Pittsburgh Pirates' Randall Simon became the most hated man in Milwaukee when he smacked the Italian Sausage with a baseball bat as it ran past the visitors' dugout. They eventually made up.