PHOENIX -- Right-hander Marco Estrada is not alone in enjoying the new weight room at Maryvale Baseball Park, the first sign of $1.5 million in pending improvements meant to keep the Brewers at their 15-year-old Phoenix facility.
The project added 1,700 square feet -- more than doubling the space to just shy of 3,000 square feet -- plus skylights and two garage doors that add natural light and air. Gone are the days of players escaping the cramped quarters of the weight room to do their exercises in the adjoining hallway.
"No one ever wanted to go in because you had to pretty much wait for the veterans to get their workouts over with," Estrada said. "Now there's enough room for everybody to go in."
The renovation was the first of two projects scheduled for this year. It was green lit after the Brewers and Phoenix agreed last spring to a creative 10-year lease extension. It called for two guaranteed years (2013-14) and $1.5 million in improvements, followed by eight one-year club options.
Another round of construction will begin next month. When the Brewers break camp, their Minor Leaguers will move from the Minor League complex across the parking lot into the Major League complex, opening the Minor League side for its own renovation. Crews will expand the weight room there by 1,300-1,400 square feet and add a theater-style classroom and offices.
In the end, Maryvale Baseball Park will have about 6,000 square feet of weight room space, putting it in the top third of Cactus League facilities, according to Brewers vice president and controller Joe Zidanic.
The Brewers' future wish list includes replacing the outdated scoreboard, new stadium seats and further expansion of office space.
Crosby still in the mix as he attempts comeback
PHOENIX -- The Brewers look set at shortstop, but comeback candidate Bobby Crosby still has a chance to win an Opening Day roster spot, manager Ron Roenicke said.
Crosby, the 2004 American League Rookie of the Year, signed a Minor League deal with the Brewers on Jan. 22, when the Brewers were still seeking a backup to 23-year-old shortstop Jean Segura. But a week later, the team re-signed Alex Gonzalez, last year's Opening Day starter, who, barring an issue with his surgically-repaired right knee, is this year's presumptive backup.
With Gonzalez in the fold, Crosby will play all around the infield this spring and compete for a job as a utility man.
"There's still a job there," Roenicke said. "I'll talk to him and see where his comfort level is and what he can do. I think he knows at this time in his career that somebody's not just going to give him an everyday shortstop job. He's going to need to move around."
Crosby, 33, originally broke out with the A's, but has not played in the Majors since a 70-game stint with the D-backs and Pirates in 2010. He has battled back injuries through his career and did not play at all in '11 or '12.
Crosby's agent, Paul Cohen, also represented Gabe Kapler and Jim Edmonds, each of whom mounted successful comebacks with the Brewers in recent seasons.
"[Crosby] was certainly a good-looking player, and then he started having the back issues, and you stopped seeing the production he had when he first came to the big leagues," said Roenicke, who was with the Angels throughout Crosby's years with the A's. "But this is a really good player if he's healthy. I think health is a big question mark that has nagged at him. I don't know how many years that he tried to play with injuries."
Crosby would get a $800,000 base salary in the Majors and could earn $450,000 more in incentives; $25,000 each for 25 and 40 games played, $50,000 each for 60 and 80 games played, $50,000 each for 30 and 50 starts and $100,000 apiece for 70 and 90 starts.
• Right-hander Santo Manzanillo has caught Roenicke's eye in bullpen sessions so far. The big, hard-throwing Dominican reliever is healthy again after dealing with a shoulder injury last year, the result of a serious car accident the previous offseason.
"Nice rhythm, nice, easy arm -- and it's incredible how the ball comes out," Roenicke said. "With what I saw [Thursday], I would say he is back to being where I heard he was before."
Manzanillo, who was at Double-A Huntsville last year when he revealed to the medical staff that his shoulder was sore, will probably begin the season in the Minor Leagues.
• Brewers players will report early Saturday morning for bloodwork, which union representative Chris Narveson said is related to MLB's expanded drug testing program. That program, already considered the strongest in professional sports before changes were announced last month, was amended to include in-season testing for human growth hormone and baseline testosterone readings that will make it easier to detect the use of synthetic testosterone.
• It will be a long Saturday for the Brewers, beginning with a morning meeting to include principal owner Mark Attanasio's annual address. General manager Doug Melvin and Roenicke will also make remarks, followed by the team's first full-squad workout.
• Right-handers Mark Rogers and Brandon Kintzler signed contracts on Friday, and now all but five members of the full 40-man roster are signed for this season.