Slash by his Brewers teammates, pitcher/outfielder/spring curiosity Brooks Kieschnick, who is trying make the team as both a righthanded reliever and a lefthanded bat off the bench. If he's successful, he'll be the majors' first two-way player since Willie Smith did it for several teams during the 1960s. "It's a blast," Kieschnick said. "I'm having so much fun. I get to be involved in the whole game." In one madcap moment at the Brewers complex in Phoenix last week, Kieschnick threw batting practice to teammates, then swapped his cap for a helmet and took his own cuts. "I'm not sure I'm smart enough to know how to use him," manager Ned Yost said. "There are so many possibilities."
Kieschnick, 30, starred as an outfielder and pitcher at the University of Texas. He gave up pitching after the Cubs drafted him in 1993 and has toiled in the minors, getting just 173 big league at bats with three teams. Last year Cleveland cut him during spring training, but before leaving, Kieschnick, who throws in the mid-90s and has a curveball and changeup, asked the Indians to watch him pitch. "I didn't want to be 40 and wonder what would have happened if I'd tried pitching," he says. After seeing him throw, the Indians weren't interested. Kieschnick began practicing with the Northern League's Brockton (Mass.) Rox, where a White Sox scout saw him throwing on the side. That led to a job with Chicago's Triple A team in Charlotte, where Kieschnick had a 2.59 ERA in 31? innings and hit .275 with 13 homers in 189 at bats. He wasn't re-signed, but after he pitched well in winter ball in Puerto Rico, Milwaukee picked him up. "He's legit," Yost said. "His pitching mechanics are good, and he's got a power bat." For now Kieschnick works out mainly with the pitchers, but he'll soon begin spending more time with the outfielders. Explained Kieschnick, "You don't want to wear yourself out."