Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers: #3 Cesar Izturis

It’s Tuesday as I type.

It’ll be Friday as I drink liquids and eat a bratwurst…at 10am or so.

Three short days remain until Opening Day. It’s going to be a fun ride this season and I hope you’ll all have ample opportunity to get to Miller Park this year and enjoy that ride.

A man looking to enjoy a full season of Major League Baseball is the subject of today’s profile. He is backup infielder:

Cesar Izturis.

After missing all but 17 games in 2011 and all but 19 games in 2010, Cesar David Izturis is hoping for another season in the sun where he actually gets some time on the field.

2011 began okay for now 32-year-old native of Venezuela, but he was placed on the disabled list on May 18th with an ulnar nerve injury. He returned in early August, but three days later was banged for the rest of the season with a groin strain.

He signed his free agent contract with Milwaukee on December 2, 2011 and was an immediate consideration for the backup utility infielder spot vacated when Jerry Hairston, Jr. signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Craig Counsell retired.

Izturis can perform capably on defense at 2B, 3B and SS, and when he was told he would be added to the 25-man roster at the end of the Spring Training it came as no real surprise. That’s because despite his defensive struggles this spring, he’s the only legitimate MLB-caliber player who could backup at shortstop that the Brewers had in camp. He’s also a switch-hitter which adds value. He can pinch hit for anybody and then double-switch into a number of positions.

Managers appreciate that kind of flexibility.

Now, having said all of that, Izturis isn’t exactly a good player anymore.

Recent track record shows a trend of injury and ineffectiveness. He’d have to overcome a bit of that history in order to stick in a normal situation, but in Milwaukee he’ll get more of a chance then he otherwise might. But if his glove doesn’t come around, he’ll be jettisoned when the team can find a more capable option.

Then again, players who can man shortstop, that come cheap, and can switch-hit aren’t exactly your standard unemployment line fodder. They tend to have jobs.

As far as 2012 is concerned though, it’ll be a success if Izturis can stay healthy, and convert outs into outs when he’s asked to give starting shortstop Alex Gonzalez a breather. He’ll need to contribute in a pinch-hitting role on occasion as well, but he’s on the team primarily because he is physically able to play shortstop. Don’t sell that point short in your mind.

The biggest concern?

If anything, it’s that the elbow nerve issue last year comes on an elbow which underwent Tommy John surgery back in 2005. It’s a minor concern really, but he missed almost three months with that injury and Father Time catches up to all athletes eventually. He hasn’t shown any issues with it so far this spring, but as far as I can tell he didn’t have any issues last spring either.

Just something to keep our collective eyes on.

Again, though, if Izturis can answer the bell and provide the services he is on the team to provide, nobody will be able to complain with much authority throughout the year.

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