Brewers pursue righty Looper

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Brewers are working on a deal to add veteran right-hander Braden Looper to their pitching staff.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told The Associated Press on Monday that he was "optimistic" about the possibility of signing Looper, a free agent who pitched the past three seasons in St. Louis.

The Brewers' interest in Looper was reported on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Web site earlier Monday.

Looper, 34, has a career record of 58-58 with a 3.93 ERA, spending the majority of his career in the bullpen before making the transition to starter the past two seasons.

Looper was 24-26 with a 4.50 ERA as a starter for the Cardinals from 2007-08, and pitched 199 innings last season.

The addition of Looper would give the Brewers' pitching staff more flexibility -- and perhaps another option for their starting rotation.

Without Looper, the Brewers potentially would bring only five established starters to spring training: Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra, Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush and Seth McClung.

Pitching played a major role in the Brewers' playoff appearance last season, their first since 1982. But CC Sabathia signed a big deal with the New York Yankees and free agent Ben Sheets remains unsigned and might need elbow surgery.