When it was learned Mat Gamel would be lost for the season to a knee injury just a few days into spring training, the door seemed to have opened wide for Milwaukee Brewers minor-league player of the year Hunter Morris to step through.

But with a little over 2 ½ weeks remaining in the Cactus League, Alex Gonzalez appears to have solidified his hold on first base until Corey Hart returns in May and Taylor Green could be the left-handed-hitting part of a platoon there.

Morris, meanwhile, has struggled mightily.

After a going 0 for 3 in a 12-3 loss to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, the 2010 fourth-round pick is hitting just .120 in 25 at-bats with a double, a home run and one run batted in. He's also drawn only two walks, giving him an on-base percentage of .185.

Contrast that to the numbers Morris put up last season when he was named the Southern League's player of the year at Class AA Huntsville: a .303 average, 28 homers, 113 RBI and a .563 slugging percentage.

It's been a transition for Morris, who's taking part in his first major-league camp.

"It doesn't matter how much I hit in the off-season - and I take a lot of swings," Morris said. "When I get to spring training, it's going to kind of start back over from ground zero, unfortunately. It's tough to do. There's only so much tee work and front tossing and regular BP you can do. It just doesn't translate into the game."

"So it's tough, but that's what spring training's for - getting from Point A to Point B. And the sooner you can do that, the better you're going to feel about it."

Morris, who went 0 for 13 to open, can take some solace in the fact things went much the same for him last spring - and even carried over into the early part of the season until he finally got on track.

"I had a terrible spring training last year," he recounted. "I missed a week sick with the flu, started the season terribly - 0 for 15 with eight or nine strikeouts. I wasn't even putting the ball in play."

"It was frustrating at that point, but I think I'm well ahead now of where I was last year at this time. So that's encouraging."