March 06, 2017

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) Andrew Susac, Manny Pina and Jett Bandy are competing to become the Milwaukee Brewers' starting catcher, with one behind the plate and at designated hitter most days during spring training.

''I think they've all done a really nice job of accepting that challenge, accepting the workload that's going to be on them, accepting their responsibility, and understanding that they are the players that are really connected the most to all of our roster,'' manager Craig Counsell said.

When Milwaukee traded Jonathan Lucroy to Texas last season, Martin Maldonado was the only tenured Brewer left at the position. Maldonado was traded to the Los Angeles Angels for Bandy in December.

''We challenged the catchers at the beginning of camp with the understanding that, look, this the start of it for you guys,'' Counsell said. ''We're starting anew with our catching. We challenged them to set a new standard to what the catching's going to look like.''

Pina, a 29-year-old from Venezuela, played four games for Kansas City in 2011 and one for the Royals in 2012, then 33 games for the Brewers last year. Susac has a World Series ring from 2014 with the San Francisco Giants, but after arriving in a trade last season appeared in only nine major league games.

''We're getting to know Jett. To be fair to Susac, he didn't get a big chance to play last year. So we were around him but there wasn't much interaction,'' Counsell said. ''Manny got close to 100 plate appearances last year. You can tell that Manny had been around the team. He's picking up stuff faster, I think.''

Pina, the designated hitter Monday against a Cleveland split squad, hit into a run-scoring forceout and had four hits and two RBIs in his first 10 spring training at-bats. Bandy entered the game with two hits in 13 at-bats but had three in his first three plate appearances Monday.

''Taking advantage of the opportunity the manager gave me,'' Pina said. ''You can't think about pressure and all that, only about doing what you know how to do. If I'm in the competition, it's because I know what I'm doing year after year.''

Susac, who turns 27 this month, has a chance to be a starter after competing to back up Buster Posey in San Francisco. Susac's 96 major league games are the most among the three.

''It's all you can ask for. Just give it your all. If it's good, it's good, and if it's bad, get better,'' Susac said. ''I've played every day. It keeps me on my toes.''

NOTE: After an off day in which every pitcher but starter Jimmy Nelson will not throw, the Brewers have split squad games on Wednesday. RHP Junior Guerra starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers and LHP Josh Hader faces the Chicago White Sox.

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