PHOENIX -- Second-year Brewers shortstop Jean Segura batted leadoff in the team's Cactus League opener Thursday, a good indication that he's indeed the leading candidate to replace Norichika Aoki.
Segura mostly batted second behind Aoki last season, but Aoki was traded to the Royals over the winter. Segura batted first only twice last season.
"He's not the typical guy to do it because he's aggressive," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's a swinger. I talked this morning to him about it a little bit. I don't want him to change because I put him in the leadoff spot.
"That goes with everybody. When I put them in different spots in the lineup, I just want guys to hit. We move them around sometimes for necessity, and it doesn't mean you hit fourth and all of a sudden you have to start swinging for the fence. [Segura] is a guy that's aggressive and needs to stay that way or there's too much mental thought going on, and he won't produce."
Segura did produce in 2013, finishing the season with a team-best .294 batting average and running second in the National League with 44 stolen bases. He made the NL All-Star team with a huge first half before wearing down in August and September.
His on-base percentage ended at a relatively modest .329, and Segura's highest walk total in the Minor Leagues was 45, in 581 plate appearances at the Class A level in 2010. He worked a walk to lead off Thursday's 11-3 win over the A's before scoring on Ryan Braun's first-inning home run, then added two more hits, including a double, before calling it a day.
"I think he's OK with [moving to leadoff]," Roenicke said. "He's probably a little better second, and the next couple of days, maybe we'll put him second. I'm going to move him around. … What I like is he's comfortable enough now to come in here and we'll talk about things. He's a very honest guy. Some guys don't quite tell me everything, and he's quite honest. It's not that guys will lie to me, they just won't tell me."
Brewers' rotation coming into focus
PHOENIX -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has already informed one of his three top starting pitchers about the team's tentative plan for the first week of the regular season, but will wait to make that plan public.
Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza will pitch in that order beginning Friday, when Gallardo, who has started the past four season openers for the Brewers, starts against the Giants in Scottsdale, Ariz. Lohse is scheduled to work against the Dodgers at Maryvale Baseball Park on Saturday, weather permitting, and Garza is scheduled to make his Brewers spring debut on Sunday against the Rockies in Scottsdale.
"I don't think it will be that late" that he makes a more formal announcement, Roenicke said. "The reason I don't want to do that now is there's only one of the veterans I've talked to so far about it, and it's because I want him ahead of time to know what I'm thinking. The reason I don't tell the other guys is things change. All of a sudden we have them lined up, and one outing he cuts his finger and all of a sudden we have to back him off three, four days. Now, things change."
Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta project to fill the rest of the Brewers' rotation, and they each debuted Thursday in an 11-3 win over the A's. The way he hung his head and kicked at the dirt around the pitcher's mound, it was obvious that Estrada was not happy about his first inning of work in 2014.
Estrada walked the first two batters he faced before A's shortstop Jed Lowrie delivered a two-run double.
"I felt weird out there, I'm not going to lie," Estrada said. "Obviously, walking two guys in one inning is not something I like to do, not something anybody likes to do. I just felt a little rushed. I was thinking the whole time I had to work on certain pitches, to where I didn't establish fastball. If you don't establish that, your other pitches aren't going to come."
Estrada limited the damage to two runs in the first inning and then turned to a simple combination of fastball-changeup in a 1-2-3 second. In all, he was charged with two runs on two hits, with two walks and one strikeout.
Peralta took over beginning in the third inning and allowed only a hit and a walk in two scoreless innings, with one strikeout.
• Juan Francisco is working to simplify the mechanics of his swing and limit strikeouts, but still has that trademark power. Francisco hit a pair of home runs in Thursday's exhibition opener, a good start to Francisco's fight with Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay for the first base job.
"We don't have anybody like that," Roenicke said. "Reynolds has got big-time power, but I don't know anybody in the game that has this kind of power."
Ryan Braun and Mitch Haniger also homered against Oakland. Braun was playing his first game off last year's season-ending suspension.
• Two left-handed newcomers, Zach Duke and Will Smith, had solid debuts against the A's. Non-roster invitee Zach Duke struck out a batter in a perfect inning, and Will Smith worked around an error and four hits in two scoreless innings. Duke struck out one batter and Smith whiffed three.
"We're hearing there is a good chance we'll be rained out," Roenicke said.
If Lohse and the Brewers are indeed rained out, he could throw a simulated game in the covered batting cage at Maryvale Baseball Park instead.