Reynolds, Overbay to split 1B; Francisco released
Veteran slugger placed on release waivers despite strong spring performance
PHOENIX -- Going with experience and defense over a hot spring, the Brewers announced on Sunday that veterans Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds would share first base. Juan Francisco also had been competing for the job with a sizzling Cactus League performance. On Monday, the club placed Francisco on release waivers.
"Their track record is what we're looking at," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said in reference to Overbay and Reynolds, teammates last season with the Yankees who are expected to form a platoon at first. "We have a better defense that way.
"I've been frustrated with the way we've played defense. We really feel we're going to pitch well ... and we have to play good defense. When they talk about your defense being strong up the middle, we should be. I know how important defense is at first base, picking them."
Overbay is familiar to Brewers fans, having played 159 and 158 games in Milwaukee in 2004 and '05. He's a career .267 hitter in 13 Major League seasons with six teams. In 142 games for the Yankees last year, the lefty hit .240 with 14 homers and 59 RBIs in 445 at-bats.
Known for his prodigious power from the right side, with seasons of 44 and 37 home runs on his resume, Reynolds is a career .233 hitter with a .464 slugging average in seven seasons. In 36 games with the Yankees and 99 with the Indians last year, Reynolds hit .220 with 21 homers and 67 RBIs in 445 at-bats.
Francisco, who played 89 games for the Brewers last year and hit .221 with 13 homers and 32 RBIs in 240 at-bats, had a .346 Cactus League batting average with three homers and six RBIs in 13 games. He is 26 years old, having made his Major League debut with the Reds in 2009 as a third baseman. He played first base last year for the first time in his career.
"Spring Training is to get in shape, not see who's on the team," Roenicke said. "Spring Training is not about numbers. That's a misleading thing. People I look up to say, 'Don't be misled by numbers.' That's the truth.
"I don't want to downplay what Juan did. He did everything he could to make the team."
Overbay, 37, and Reynolds, 30, will be added to the 40-man roster before Saturday.
"I can keep preparing and do what I need to do," Overbay said. "They know what they've got with Juan and what they've got with me. The only thing I've got over Juan is experience at first base."
Neither Overbay nor Reynolds was told exactly what his role would be, but given their profiles, a platoon appears likely -- unless Roenicke decides to go with the hot bat.
"I'm excited to get out there," Reynolds said. "I know we've got a good team."
Overbay and Reynolds joked about being a "package deal," both having come from New York as non-roster invitees.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.