The Milwaukee right-hander was scratched from his Cactus League debut Saturday after feeling tightness in his left oblique muscle near the end of his bullpen warmup."I stepped off and thought it felt funny," Looper said during the Brewers' 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. "I thought about throwing a pitch and thought, 'you know, it's just not worth it."Looper, signed as a free agent just before the start of spring training, said he first felt a twinge in his side after he sneezed earlier in the week but didn't think twice about it."I haven't felt it playing catch," Looper said. "I didn't feel it doing anything. I feel healthy. That's what is frustrating."Looper has been durable during his 10-year career. He missed 12 games with a shoulder injury in 2007 and three others in 2002 for personal reasons.Brewers manager Ken Macha is hoping it's a minor setback for the 34-year-old."One of the areas we're a little thin in the organization is starters," Macha said. "If it's a rib cage, that's problematic."Looper was 12-14 with a 4.16 ERA in 33 starts for the Cardinals last season."If you can't pitch you figure it's because of a shoulder or an elbow," Looper said. "To have something as silly sounding as this is pretty frustrating."Angels right-hander Shane Loux was thankful to be standing on a major league mound as a starting pitcher again.Loux, a non-roster invitee trying to win the fifth spot in the rotation, scattered three hits over two scoreless innings. He struck out one and picked off a runner at first.The 29-year-old Loux, who posted a 2.81 ERA in 16 innings for Los Angeles after an August call-up last season, has not started a regular-season major league game since 2003."The one thing I learned early in my career is any time you take the mound you're pitching for 30 teams," Loux said. "I want to make this club. But I'm fully aware everybody's watching every time you take the mound."After the Brewers squandered a three-run lead, minor league shortstop Brent Brewer hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to give Milwaukee a 5-3 lead."He had his game face on all the way around," Macha said. "When he got over here I told him it's OK to smile."
When told Hall of Fame reliever Goose Gossage once went on the disabled list after a sneezing-related injury, Looper said: "He's always been a hero of mine, actually. I remember watching him pitch when I was growing up." ... Eduardo Morlan started for the Brewers in place of Looper and allowed one hit and three walks in two shutout innings. ... Milwaukee LF Ryan Braun went 1-for-3 with an RBI over seven innings in his final appearance before leaving to join Team USA in Florida ahead of the World Baseball Classic. "He asked me if he could stay in and I told him it was enough," Macha said. ... Angels LF Bobby Abreu was 1-for-3 with two strikeouts. ... Brewers 3B Matt Gamel's fiancee, Julianne, gave birth to the couple's first child Friday night in Jacksonville, Fla. Gamel is expected to return to camp on Monday. ... The Brewers sold 104,000 tickets in six hours, setting a franchise record for most tickets sold in a single day. Fans had lined up at Miller Park for days, camping out in snow, rain and freezing temperatures before the windows opened Saturday morning. The previous record was set last year when 98,000 tickets were sold on the first day of availability.