PHOENIX (AP) - A healthy Mark Rogers could be a big boost to a Milwaukee Brewers rotation that has three openings at the moment.
Rogers, a 2004 first-round pick, had right wrist surgery in 2011 to repair carpal tunnel syndrome. He missed the entire 2007-08 seasons with two shoulder operations.
"The injury stuff is years ago now," Rogers said Wednesday. "I feel great. My arm has never felt better. I'm excited about this year. Now is the time. It's been a long time coming, but it makes it all that more rewarding to have this opportunity in front of me. It makes me work that much harder to maintain my spot."
Rogers went 3-1 with a 3.92 ERA in seven starts after he was called up from the minors in late July to replace Zack Greinke, who was traded to the Los Angeles Angels.
"I think last year was a good stepping stone on where I want to be this year as far as experience and get a little time under my belt, knowing what you need to do to prepare to pitch in the big leagues," Rogers said. "Last year was huge for my confidence coming back from the injuries it was nice to get there last year, not only get there, but to have some success while I was there."
Rogers concluded last season by winning his final three starts, but did not pitch after an Aug. 31 victory over Pittsburgh. In his final two starts, he allowed one run on eight hits in 10 1/3 innings, while striking out 10.
"I threw more innings last year than in any previous year," Rogers said. "I got to just about 140 innings (134 1/3) and they shut me down as a precautionary just to make sure I'd be 100 percent this year. The biggest thing was to make sure I was ready for this year and I am. I don't want to get into any talk about shutting down or an innings limit. My goal is to throw 200 innings."
With Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf gone, the Brewers' rotation is fronted by Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada. Rogers is confident he will earn one of the three rotation vacancies.
Others battling for the rotation openings include Chris Naverson, who had rotator cuff surgery after making two starts last season, Wily Peralta and Mike Fiers.
"I definitely think it's a pivotal year for Mark," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. "For one, he's out of (minor league) options and so it is important for him. I think coming back off the injury and having a healthy season last year and to be able to be healthy again this year and to pitch the way that we think we can, it's a very important year for him."
Rogers' fastball velocity is also back to where it was in August, 94 mph to 95 mph.
"I think they are all important years, but especially this year because there is a great opportunity to be a member of this starting pitching staff," Rogers said. "I spent the offseason preparing myself for this moment really to be as prepared as possible coming into spring training and leave no doubt in their mind that I can be a starting pitcher in the big leagues."
Notes: With morning rains making the field slick, the Brewers held an abbreviated workout Wednesday. A dozen pitchers threw batting practice on two fields. .Fiers will start the exhibition opener Saturday against Oakland. .Gallardo and Estrada will throw in a Brewers' instrasquad game Friday.