Notes: Vargas set for new beginning
Fifth starter eager to prove himself after offseason trade
ARLINGTON -- Brewers starter Claudio Vargas says he's not greedy. All he wants is the opportunity to prove he belongs on the mound every five days.
Vargas will get his first chance next weekend when he steps on the mound against the Cubs as the Brewers' fifth starter.
"I feel great physically and mentally, better than I have ever felt," Vargas said. "This is going to be a good year for me and this team. We know we can go really far in this division."
On Saturday, Vargas threw 46 pitches in four innings in a simulated game before the Brewers' exhibition game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He went 2-1 with a 4.68 ERA in 25 innings during Spring Training, striking out 19 batters and walking five.
Jeff Suppan also threw three innings in a simulated game Saturday afternoon.
"[Vargas has] been great, very good for us," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "He's throwing strikes and throwing the ball well. He's going to do a good job for us in the fifth spot."
Vargas was signed by the Florida Marlins as a teenager in 1995 out of the Dominican Republic and spent seven years in the organization before being traded to the Montreal Expos in 2002. He made his big-league debut in 2003. He was claimed by the Diamondbacks off waivers in 2005 and traded to the Brewers last winter.
Vargas went 12-10 with a 4.83 ERA in 30 starts for the Diamondbacks last season.
"I was really surprised when I got the call and they told me I was traded," Vargas said. "I didn't expect it because I was really happy in Arizona, but this is business and I understand that. I'm really happy here now."
Shouse in house: Left-handed reliever Brian Shouse is not sure if the Brewers will ask him to face right-handed hitters on a regular basis this season, but he wants to be ready just in case they do.
"I've been working on throwing my breaking ball to righties, down and in, and fastballs in to right-handers," Shouse said. "Facing lefties all the time sometimes you get in a routine. You don't lose how to get righties out, but you have to work on it. I'm focusing on that and doing what I'm supposed to do against lefties."
Last season, left-handed hitters hit .238 against Shouse. Right-handed hitters posted a .309 mark. For his career, left-handed hitters have a .218 batting average against him, while righties are hitting .315.
"He's mostly a left-handed specialist-type, but there are certain situations where you have to get a righty out, too," Yost said. "You have to be able to do both. He has confidence in his ability, and so do I, that he can do both."
Counting on Capellan: The regular season is one day away, but reliever Jose Capellan already has his eyes on the series, just not the one you might think.
Capellan can't wait for the 2008 Caribbean Series, held next February in the Dominican Republic city of Santiago.
"It's going to be one of the best ever," said Capellan, who plays for the Gigantes in the Dominican Republic during the winter. "Santiago is going to be wild. The fans there love baseball. It's like the second capital city."
Capellan regularly plays for his country's team during the Caribbean Series and said he will continue to do so as long as the Brewers allow him.
"I play to stay in shape. I show up in better condition because I play in the winter," he said. "Going home and playing for your country and your family, what's better than that?"
Quotable: "It could turn into one of those things where if we have the lead after six innings, the game is over. That's what it looks like on paper, anyway, so we are excited about that. We are happy and we'll see what happens when the games start." -- Shouse, on the Brewers bullpen
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.