Erick Almonte, who has not played in a major league game since 2003 and never has started a season in the majors, has made the improbable club to be on the Opening Day roster of the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Long Island (NY) Ducks' third baseman during the 2006 Atlantic League season is expected to be a prime right-handed pinch hitter for the Brewers when they open the season in Cincinnati Thursday although Milwaukee seems to feel he can fill in, as necessary, at first or third base, left or rightfield and perhaps even at his original position of shortstop.
Almonte was a non-roster invitee to spring training in Arizona although Manager Ron Roenicke admitted to reporters "probably not" when they asked if he thought the hot-hitting veteran was likely to make the team when camp opened.
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION/NORTHERN LEAGUE HURLER ALSO STICKS WITH BREW CREW
Right-hander Brandon Kintzler, despite his 5-foot-10 height, will be one of eight Brewers relievers when the National League season starts. Only 26, Kintzler, who has pitched for both St. Paul, MN in the American Association and Winnipeg, which is moving from the Northern League to the Association this season, got into his first seven major league games last September (0-1, 7.36) after spending most of the season in Double-A and Triple-A.
While Kintzler and Almonte got good news about their immediate future, popular reliever Mark DiFelice (Somerset and Camden, NJ, Atlantic League) and catcher Mike Rivera (Atlantic City, NJ, Atlantic), both with major league experience with the Brewers, have been told they will not be part of the major league team when the regular season opens.
We are hoping to have a full rundown on all Independent players who will open the season on major league rosters--likely about 15 of them--in Thursday's Independent Baseball Insider column.
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