GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Alex Gonzalez will be on the opening-day roster. That much is known.
Beyond him, the Milwaukee Brewers’ options for the one or possibly two extra spots on their bench remain muddled less than two weeks before opening day.
Jeff Bianchi has missed much of camp with injuries. Taylor Green missed time playing for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic and is in a spring-long slump at the plate.
Donnie Murphy hasn’t done much to distinguish himself. Bobby Crosby, another candidate, was released Monday.
In short, there is opportunity for someone to step forward over the next week or so.
The question is, will it happen?
“I think there’s enough there … to where we still feel like we’re going to be covered OK,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “We’ll try to get Bianchi healthy, and hopefully he’ll be a guy that we’ll be talking about those last couple days.
“But it’s always a concern to make sure you’re covered, especially with the middle infield, making sure you have enough guys to do it.”
Crosby, 33, was a long shot to make the opening-day roster after sitting out the previous two years. The American League Rookie of the Year in 2004 with the Oakland A’s, he signed a minor-league deal with the Brewers on Jan. 22.
Crosby suffered a thigh injury out of the chute and hit .188 in 16 at-bats while seeing time at shortstop, first base and third base.
“We had signed him previous to Alex Gonzalez,” general manager Doug Melvin said. “Having Alex on the club now, and we’ve still got decisions to make, we wanted to let him know ahead of time that his chances of making the club were slim at this point.”
Melvin said the two sides discussed the possibility of Crosby starting the season at Class AAA Nashville, but he ultimately chose to be released.
Bianchi suffered a left-groin strain that kept him out for about two weeks, and after returning for a couple of games he’s out again, this time with a hip-flexor issue stemming from the groin injury.
When he’s healthy, he can play shortstop, second and third base, and Roenicke also said earlier in camp he was interested in looking at him in the outfield. He’s hitting .235 in 17 at-bats.
But unable to play again and out of options, Bianchi is putting the Brewers in a spot to have to make a tough decision.
“If we go much longer than (this week), yeah,” Roenicke said when asked if Bianchi was running out of time to make the team.
“So we’re hoping to get him back on the field and get him enough at-bats here to be able to make a decision on him at least before we start.
Green, meanwhile, is scuffling along at just .139 despite getting 36 at-bats. He hits left-handed and is an able first baseman, which would figure to make him at least a platoon option with Gonzalez until Corey Hart returns in May.
But with how poorly he’s hit, Green isn’t helping his chances.
“It’s just hitting,” Roenicke said. “Sometimes you struggle for a while and it’s hard to get out of it. He’s in a role here with us that he just started to swing well before he went to the WBC. I think one game in the WBC he hit well, then he came back here and he wasn’t swinging like when he left.
“He’s pressing. He’s pressing to make the team, like everybody is. Hopefully he starts swinging it the way we know he can, and hopefully he’ll be one of those guys at the end that we’ll have to make a decision on.”
Murphy has gotten his chances with 32 at-bats but is hitting .219. He’s played shortstop, second and third base this spring and has 244 games of major-league experience as a utility man.
The rest of the Brewers’ bench will be composed of Gonzalez, backup catcher Martin Maldonado and fourth outfielder Logan Schafer. There has been talk of keeping Khris Davis strictly as a hitter off the bench, but if the Brewers decide to keep 13 pitchers, that probably wouldn’t happen.
“Those will all be guys we make decisions on in the end,” Melvin said. “It always comes down to that. That’s why I always say spring training isn’t about your top 20 guys — it’s players 21 through 40.”
Blake Lalli, a left-handed-hitting catcher and first baseman, has also gotten himself into the conversation as a non-roster invitee. With two more hits in the Brewers’ 4-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Monday, he improved his spring average to .387.
“He’s impressing a lot of people, and not just with what he’s doing,” Roenicke said. “This guy’s really sharp.”