PHILADELPHIA -- The consensus around the Brewers is that right-hander Tyler Thornburg's fastball, curveball and changeup are all better -- significantly better -- than ever, but even Thornburg has a hard time explaining exactly why.
The 25-year-old right-hander was the last pitcher to make the Opening Day roster but has already logged a pair of wins, one coming after an impressive two-inning performance against the Phillies on Wednesday night. On Thursday, Thornburg appeared again and retired all three hitters he faced in the seventh inning of a 6-2 Brewers win.
His stuff has been so good, manager Ron Roenicke said, that Thornburg is pitching his way out of long relief and into the Brewers' mix of late-inning options.
"I don't know, maybe he wants another job," Roenicke joked. "Maybe he wants to close or something."
Thornburg is working with an impressive arsenal, including a fastball that's averaging 93.7 mph -- nearly 2 mph better than last year, when he worked a mix of starts and relief -- plus a 76.6 mph curveball and an 83.2 mph changeup that Thornburg is using much more often. After allowing a run to the Braves in his season debut, Thornburg has worked three scoreless appearances spanning five innings, with two hits, no walks and six strikeouts.
"Nobody's body is exactly the same, and it's hard to figure out what your shoulder, what your arm needs to feel 100 percent," Thornburg said. "Once you find a couple of things that work for you, you repeat it. One of the main reasons people start losing [velocity] is your shoulder is unstable or your scapula starts moving, and you're going to have to find ways to restabilize it, get the 'scap' moving again properly."
Is Thornburg trying to say that he pitched with some discomfort last season, when he was 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA in 18 games, seven starts, with a four-seam fastball that averaged 92 mph?
"Any time you go from starting to relieving, starting to relieving, you see a lot of those guys get hurt," Thornburg said. "That's probably one of the main components when your 'velo' comes down. That could have been one reason for it, and then I figured out what works good for my arm."
Roenicke, meanwhile, is figuring out how durable Thornburg can be out of the bullpen. Wednesday marked his second two-inning appearance in four days.
"The way he's pitching, he's pitching himself to where I feel good anywhere I put him in a game," Roenicke said. "His off-speed stuff is so good. He's painting [the corners with] some fastballs, and I look up and they're 94, 95 mph, and you know a hitter has to look at that and say, 'I have to quicken up a little.' Then with a plus changeup and a plus curveball, it doesn't matter if you're left- or right-handed. He's got really good stuff."
Thornburg's move to relief work is not necessarily permanent, club officials say. He certainly has the arsenal to be successful as a starting pitcher, and could return to that role if needs change.
"I have no idea what is in store for this year, as far as whether I'll be a reliever all year or what might happen," Thornburg said. "Hopefully, it will be one of those years where I'm used a lot. I'm going to have to do everything possible to stay healthy."
Gomez's Gold Glove ends long wait for Crew
PHILADELPHIA -- Brewers fans will see something Saturday they have not witnessed in a generation: A player receiving his Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
Center fielder Carlos Gomez will be so honored in a pregame ceremony at 6 p.m. CT, 10 minutes before the Brewers face the Pirates at Miller Park.
To Gomez, a proud defender, this is a big deal.
"I'm trying to continue the good job to get more," he said. "I don't think one is enough. To be one of the best, you have to be consistent about it."
Gomez's is the 10th Gold Glove Award in franchise history, spread among five different players. George Scott won five in a row at first base from 1972-76, Cecil Cooper won in back-to-back years at first base from 1979-80, Sixto Lezcano won as an outfielder in 1979, and Robin Yount at shortstop in 1982. After Yount, the Brewers had gone 32 seasons without a Gold Glove winner, which was the longest streak in the 57-year history of the award.
Gomez won his award in part by making five home run-saving catches, and he did not commit an error over his last 32 games. He was actually presented the hardware in New York in November -- Gomez posed for a photo with Willie Mays that appears in the Brewers' media guide -- but gave the award back to the folks at Rawlings, who forwarded it to the Brewers so they could host a local ceremony in Milwaukee.
"It makes sense, they give it to you in front of your own fans," Gomez said.
New video shows Brewers are 'Happy' to be back
PHILADELPHIA -- Are you happy baseball is back after a long, cold Midwest winter?
The Brewers are, and they showed it to their fans with a video that debuted at Brewers.com on Thursday morning and will air at Miller Park all season long. Set to the Pharrell Williams song "Happy," it features Bob Uecker on trumpet, Carlos Gomez on the dance floor, Logan Schafer on the Miller Park roof and everyone from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett to Hank the Dog clapping along.
The Brewers and Captivate Digital Cinema shot footage for the video during exhibition games against the Royals and their season-opening series against the Braves.
"I don't know about 'nervous,' but we're definitely all anticipating it coming out," Schafer said.
Schafer had been up on the catwalks high above the playing field at Miller Park before, and he figured the locale would work well for his appearance.
"I'm obviously not a great dancer, so I figured if I go somewhere high like that, the picture will hopefully take some of the pressure off of me," Schafer said. "That was my thought process, at least. I don't mind [looking funny]. We're all goofballs, anyway, so it was fun."
The good times included Uecker in his radio booth, playing a trumpet he'd been given by New Orleans jazz musician Al Hirt. It was Hirt who arranged the first of Uecker's 100 or so appearances on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," launching Uecker's entertainment career away from baseball.
While Uecker bobs in his booth, Gomez dances down the dugout tunnel, Jim Henderson mugs with fellow reliever Zach Duke, a Pharrell lookalike tours Miller Park, stadium employees sing along and Brewers owner Mark Attanasio and his family dance in their usual seats next to the dugout.
The best moves may belong to Brewers relievers Brandon Kintzler, Will Smith and Tyler Thornburg, who appear throughout the production.
"I think everybody realized it could be a little awkward, so we just said, 'whatever,' and decided to wing it," Thornburg said. "I'm glad it turned out looking good."
"Everyone just had fun with it," Schafer said. "It's all for the fans, all for a good time."