PHOENIX -- Brewers pitching prospect Johnny Hellweg admits he was worn down as he lost weight in the second half of last season, and he spent the winter bulking up to avoid the same fate in 2014.
The 6-foot-9, hard-throwing Hellweg, acquired with shortstop Jean Segura and fellow right-hander Ariel Pena in the July 2012 trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Angels, finished last season at 208 pounds, but reported for duty this week at 245.
"Just worked out hard, changed my diet, ate right," said Hellweg, 25. "I cut out a lot of bad stuff in my diet. Mostly protein and carbs, no gluten. It helped. It was a lot of work, actually. In the end I was sick of eating so much this offseason. It's a grind."
"I feel great," he said. "Spring Training is always a fresh start. It's another year to prove yourself."
Hellweg was the Brewers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year and Triple-A Pacific Coast League's Pitcher of the Year last season after going 12-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 23 starts. He led PCL starters with a .228 opponents' batting average, and enjoyed one 10-start stretch from mid-May through the end of July in which he was 9-0 with a 1.16 ERA.
It earned a promotion to the Majors, where Hellweg struggled badly with command and went 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in seven starts and one relief appearance. He walked 26 batters and struck out only nine in 30 2/3 innings.
Hellweg did not blame those struggles on his falling weight, but he wanted to report for his second full season in the Brewers organization a bit stronger.
"I lost a lot of weight in July and August, so I just wanted to put it back on to make sure that if I was going to lose it again, I was going to be OK weight-wise," he said. "I think I was just underweight to begin with. It's something I have to work on."
Hellweg is not expected to break camp with the Major League team, though that could change with injuries.
Club officials will be looking for him to show better command.
"It's time on the mound," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "It's confidence and knowing that when you're behind in counts you can throw a ball over the plate and still get by with it. The guys that throw 90 who are pretty straight, it's hard to just say, 'I'm going to throw this ball right down the middle because I'm behind in the count.' When you throw 95, 96 and you have movement, you should be able to go at a guy any time you want to."
Over time, Roenicke is confident Hellweg will develop that confidence.
"If you go over his Minor League career, this isn't a guy who was a starter every year," Roenicke said. "He doesn't have a lot of total starts in the Minor Leagues, so I think it's going to take a little time."
Gomez's glove gets Gold Glove tuneup
PHOENIX -- Carlos Gomez had a golden surprise waiting for him when he reported for Spring Training on Thursday.
Waiting at Gomez's locker was the Rawlings outfielder's glove he has used since his days with the Minnesota Twins. It had been sent to the shop after last season for a tuneup, and returned with the new laces Gomez expected plus two things he did not expect. The worn, red labels on the wrist and at the base of the thumb had been replaced with shiny gold.
Such an honor is reserved for winners of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award. Gomez was the Brewers' first winner since 1982.
"For the last six years, seven years, it's something that I thought I could win," Gomez said. "I have the ability, all I needed was opportunity and to be a little more consistent. I say thank you to the people who vote. All the managers realized my hard work. I'm proud of myself."
Gomez's glove goes back a while. It was his backup beginning in 2008, when he joined the Minnesota Twins. After the Twins traded Gomez to Milwaukee, it became his game glove.
Stray dog finds home at Brewers camp
PHOENIX -- Watch your step, Racing Sausages. The Brewers may have a new mascot.
A tattered little mutt who wandered into Maryvale Baseball Park earlier this week has made himself quite at home, and is turning into a social media star. A stadium staff member named him Hank -- after Hall of Famer Hank Aaron -- and took him to the veterinarian for shots and a bath. Judging by his stained white fur, some surmise that Hank had been run over by a car.
Other staffers hung signs around the neighborhood seeking Hank's owners, but in the meantime, Hank has been going home each night with a Brewers staffer and living large by day in the Brewers clubhouse. Third-base coach Ed Sedar has become particularly fond of the pooch.
"He actually ate breakfast in here this morning," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said in his office on Thursday.
The Brewers promise that his nights sleeping on the street are over. They have been chronicling his adventure on the team's Twitter feed (@Brewers) and promise more updates in the coming days.