GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Brewers infielder Jeff Bianchi spent Saturday morning in the athletic training room at Maryvale Baseball Park, getting treatment for a left groin strain. He would have rather been with Team Italy, which was 2-0 entering Sunday's matchup against the United States and has been the surprise of the World Baseball Classic so far.
Outfielder Carlos Gomez passed through the clubhouse a few minutes later and yelled support at a clubhouse television as his Dominican Republic countrymen prepared to play Spain. Gomez withdrew from the tournament because he's a free-agent-to-be and preferred to train with the Brewers.
"I can't watch any game all the way through," Gomez said. "It's anxious for me. Like, when they get men on base, I'm walking around at home, nervous. I want to be there."
So does Bianchi. He was forced to withdraw from the tournament last week after tweaking his groin, and he has been exchanging text messages with Italy manger Marco Mazzieri.
"It's bittersweet, you know?" Bianchi said. "I'm really happy and excited to see them 2-0. A part of me obviously wants to be there, so it's exciting to watch them play well and win. But at the same time, I want to be there competing with them."
Bianchi's hotel does not carry MLB Network, so he has been following Italy's games via either the clubhouse televisions at Maryvale Baseball Park or online at MLB.com.
He and his wife, Nicole, were hoping to watch Saturday night's matchup with the U.S. over dinner.
Bianchi reported steady improvement with his injury but said he was still a few days away from being able to play. Even if Italy advances to the second round, Classic rules dictate he is ineligible to play in the tournament.
Classic gives manager unique look at Gallardo
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke had to stop and think about the last time he sat in the stands at a Major League ballpark. He figures it was 1999, the year before he accepted a job on the Angels coaching staff.
So it was with great interest that Roenicke settled into a seat behind home plate at Chase Field on Friday night and watched his best pitcher, Yovani Gallardo, work for Mexico against Ryan Braun and the Americans in the World Baseball Classic.
"It was really fun because not only was the crowd crazy, it was nice seeing Yo from behind the plate," Roenicke said. "Because we're always to the side, you really don't see him work when you're to the side. Being behind home plate, it was fun watching him pitch side to side and how he works. I really enjoyed it."
Gallardo allowed a run on two hits and a Braun walk in 3 1/3 innings before calling it a night at 49 pitches, and he showed no signs of the groin strain that briefly called his Classic status into doubt. Mexico scored a 5-2 upset in front of 44,256 fans.
"Kranny [Brewers pitching coach Rick Kranitz] was a little bit nervous up there," Roenicke said. "He was worried about pitch count, and is Yo really healthy? But it turned out good, and he told Dan Wright that he feels great. A little tired and just general soreness, but that was good."
Wright, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, assistant GM Gord Ash and special assistant Craig Counsell were among Milwaukee's contingent at the game.
Braun, who was left on deck at the 2006 All-Star Futures Game when Gallardo recorded an inning-ending out, got two chances against his teammate Friday. Braun flied out in the first inning and walked in the fourth.
"I was thinking, 'Man, that's got to be weird for them,'" Roenicke said.
Hart thrilled with recovery milestone
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Corey Hart was not exactly sure Saturday morning about the next step in his rehabilitation from knee surgery, but he was thrilled about one positive result of his encouraging MRI scan: He can drive again.
"I hate depending on people," Hart said, looking around the clubhouse. "A lot of these people in here found out where I live. Especially the guys in Scottsdale, I would say, 'If you just take me, I live real close.'"
Not exactly. Hart lives in a community west of Phoenix -- on the opposite side of town from Scottsdale.
"[Bobby] Crosby took me one day, and I was like, 'Dude, I just live on the other side of [U.S. Hwy.] 101,'" Hart said. "Then we cross the 101 and I say, 'See those mountains way out there? I live on the base of those mountains.' But guys were definitely helpful."
Now, Hart will be free to help himself. A follow-up MRI scan Friday morning confirmed that the defect on the joint surface of his knee has "filled in" since Hart's Jan. 25 surgery. He no longer has to walk around on crutches, and he will slowly graduate to new exercises intended to build strength and increase range of motion.
The Brewers' original estimate had Hart sidelined until late May. Hart remains optimistic about beating that prediction.
"It was good news, but I still don't know exactly what the game plan is yet," Hart said. "It was good enough news that I don't have to wear crutches anymore and I can start driving, but I still don't know if there is a timetable or a plan. I just know I'm about to do more."
"I think [an April return] is more a possibility now than it was," said Hart. "I think they were -- not surprised, but they weren't sure what it was going to show. All of a sudden, it showed it was good enough to where I can move forward. I know I'll do more than I've been doing. I know I can do more, I just don't know how much more. I can't jump to doing full bodyweight stuff."
• Left-hander Michael Gonzalez and the Brewers made a wise call Friday, moving the veteran's scheduled outing to a Minor League game because rain was in the forecast. Gonzalez, who was not impressive in his two Cactus League appearances, said the inning went "really well."
"I got my fastball command down where I needed it," Gonzalez said. "Breaking stuff was crisp. I was pretty pleased with the result yesterday. My big goal right now is to leave this Spring Training healthy. My numbers are going to get there. Stuff is going to get there. I'm just kind of getting into that mode."
• Right-hander Wily Peralta had an up-and-down day against the Reds, allowing three earned runs on five hits and a walk in 2 1/3 innings Saturday. But he apparently impressed plate umpire Tony Randazzo.
"The umpire didn't know whether he was throwing a screwball or what," Roenicke said. "He said it was moving all over the place. It must be the change-up he was talking about."