Brewers rotation coming together at camp

PHOENIX -- Every single time he picks up a baseball, Kyle Lohse says, he does so with purpose. He's hoping his fellow Brewers starting pitchers are thinking the same way.

That's why Lohse imported one St. Louis Cardinals tradition to Milwaukee after he signed with the Brewers last season. When a pitcher and pitching coach go to the bullpen for what sometimes was a quiet, mundane, between-starts bullpen session, at least three other pitchers tag along.

"Everyone but that day's starter," Lohse said. "It really brings the starters together as a unit, which you have to be to be successful. It all starts right there."

Asked whether this was one aspect of the ethereal "Cardinal Way," Lohse said, "It was more of a 'Chris Carpenter Way.'"

Lohse's original Major League mentor was Wisconsin native Brad Radke with the Twins, but it was Carpenter who "helped me take it mentally to the next level" in St. Louis, where Lohse pitched from 2008-2012 and reinvented himself as a command specialist following forearm surgery.

"I owe a lot to him," Lohse said.

He found the group bullpens helpful during his transition and thought they would have the same impact in Milwaukee, where Yovani Gallardo was having a challenging start to the season, Marco Estrada was enduring inconsistency and Wily Peralta was working through his first full year in the Major Leagues.

"The first year I was here [2011], guys did that a lot," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "[Zack] Greinke always wanted to see the other guys throw their bullpens. [Shaun] Marcum would be out there. [Randy] Wolf started doing it. I don't know why we got away from that."

Lohse believes there are three benefits.

"The camaraderie," he said, tops the list. "Then the fact that you've got extra eyes on a bullpen, so you build that trust with each other. If you see something somebody's doing, you can tell 'Kranny,' [pitching coach Rick Kranitz], or you can just go to the guy himself. Now you have that trust that the guys know what they're talking about, because they've been there every day.

"And also, when you get into June and July, sometimes you have the tendency to just go over there and get it over with. But when you have three other guys watching you, you're not going to want to waste their time throwing a crappy bullpen. You're going to want to go out and get what you need out of it.

"Those are the benefits I see of bringing that [over from St. Louis] and building that up. You're not doing your work just to do it. You're trying to get something out of it."

Sometimes Kranitz and the three observers banter throughout a pitcher's mound session. Sometimes they engage in serious baseball talk. Sometimes they just watch.

"Eight eyes are better than two. I think it's a great idea," said Peralta. "[Lohse] has been unbelievable as a mentor here. He's helped me out a lot. Last year, we always watched the game together and talked about it. I asked questions of him. 'What do you think about this hitter? What pitch do you throw here.' We have different stuff, but it helped me."

That is the point.

"Every time I pick up and throw a ball, I throw it with a purpose," Lohse said. "That's what I found works for consistency. Every time playing catch, I'm trying to do something with the ball. I'm not just out there doing nothing. Some guys are different, but that's a real key for me."

Ramirez aiming for spring debut on Saturday

Aramis discusses 2013 season, recent surgery

PHOENIX -- Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez says he's ready to go.

The 35-year-old veteran underwent surgery in early January to remove a benign polyp from his colon and was set back at the start of Spring Training. He ran the bases on Friday without any problems and said he would be ready to start at third base for Saturday's game against the Royals at Maryvale Baseball Park.

As of Saturday, the Brewers will have 20 game days before their March 31 Opening Day against the Braves at Miller Park. Ramirez considers that plenty of time.

"I just have to get into playing shape," said Ramirez, who insisted the left knee injury that hobbled him throughout last season has completely healed. "I'm going to try to avoid [sliding]. Hopefully, I don't have to, but I'm [trying to] totally avoid sliding here. Sometimes your instincts take over, but I'm going to try to be smart about it."

He is eager to play, and when asked why he wanted to play third base instead of ease in as a designated hitter, Ramirez said, "I want to play third. I don't like DHing. … I don't like to be sitting around. I want to be ready for March 31." Brewers athletic trainers have mapped out a schedule for Ramirez but it could change based on how he feels, manager Ron Roenicke said.

Brewers collecting funds for fallen officer

The Brewers have given to a fund for a fallen Phoenix police officer.

PHOENIX -- Brewers players and staffers have been contributing to a fund for the family of fallen Phoenix police officer John Hobbs, 43, who was killed in a daytime shootout Tuesday about three miles from Maryvale Baseball Park.

Hobbs, a 21-year veteran of the force, was based at the same Maryvale police precinct that supplies officers for security on Brewers game days. Flags have flown at half staff at the ballpark and around the city all week, and the Brewers held a moment of silence for Hobbs prior to the first game after his death.

"This touches home for us," said bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel, who is in charge of collecting donations. "One of the officers stationed here who I know well was a partner of [Hobbs] from 10 years ago, still friends with the family. We asked if there was any way we could help."

Hanel was directed to PLEA Charities, an arm of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association that provides financial and educational assistance to officers and their families.

A visitation for Hobbs is planned Sunday, and he is to be buried on Monday. The Brewers plan to present their donation to the PLEA later in the week. Fans can also donate via Paypal at AZPLEA.com.

Last call

• The year-round TGI Fridays restaurant at Miller Park will be closed for remodeling from March 9-14, and is scheduled to re-open for business with a new look on the afternoon of March 15.