Brewers call up Thornburg, send Estrada to 15-day DL
JUN 05, 2013 12:00p ET
MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Brewers have placed right-hander Marco Estrada on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring.
Despite his struggles in Triple-A this season, Tyler Thornburg has been recalled but not necessarily to start in place of Estrada. Thornburg will be available in Milwaukee's bullpen
Wednesday, and the team will make a decision on Saturday's starter later in the week.
Estrada strained his left hamstring in the fifth inning of Monday's 10-2 loss to Oakland and had to leave the game after giving up a double to Athletics shortstop Jed Lowrie.
"Not that he will be used tonight, but he's down there in case something happens," Roenicke said of Thornburg. "For Saturday's start, we'll figure out whether it will be him or somebody else to try and hold these days in the bullpen to see what happens.
"(Tuesday) night, we figured we'd be fine if we didn't go extra innings. We go one extra inning. If we would have gone three or four, we would have been in a mess last night. I don't want to say exactly who it is going to be (for Saturday) because things could change according to these games and what happens maybe to where we have to go down and reach and get somebody else or start somebody else that is here."
Thornburg, 24, has not had a good season with Triple-A Nashville, but will get a shot in the big leagues despite an 0-7 record with a 6.75 ERA with the Sounds. With Alfredo Figaro jumping from the bullpen to the rotation to fill the spot vacated by Mike Fiers' demotion to the bullpen, the Brewers are running low on starting pitching options.
The decision to promote Thornburg is a telling sign as to where Milwaukee's pitching situation is sitting, as Brewers starting pitchers have the worst ERA in the big leagues at 5.58.
Pitching the best of all the options at Triple-A, right-hander Johnny Hellweg is 4-4 with a 3.65 ERA, but he is scheduled to pitch Thursday for Nashville and would have had to be bumped back three days to start Saturday.
Has Thornburg been pitching as bad as his numbers indicate?
"From what I've heard, no," Roenicke said. "And the same thing with Hellweg. They've had good games where they've gone deep into games, especially Thornburg, and pitch well for awhile and then in the sixth or seventh inning he gives up some numbers. That's what I've heard that's going on.
"I know when you look at those numbers, you are like 'Wow, those aren't very good.' But we know he has a little bit of experience pitching out of the bullpen, which we felt more comfortable with."
Roenicke said Tuesday he wasn't opposed to dipping into Double-A for a starting pitcher, but Milwaukee opted to go with Thornburg for the time being over Jimmy Nelson or Ariel Pena.
Nelson, who is 5-4 with a 2.74 ERA with Double-A Huntsville, was promoted to Triple-A Nashville instead of coming to Milwaukee. Acquired in the Zack Greinke trade along with Hellweg and shortstop Jean Segura, Pena is 5-3 with a 3.02 ERA with Huntsville this season.
If Thornburg starts Saturday, it would be his fourth career start with the Brewers, as the right-hander made three starts last season. In eight games in 2012, Thornburg didn't record a decision and had a 4.50 ERA.
It is unknown how many starts the Brewers will need Estrada's fill-in to work. Estrada doesn't expect to be on the disabled list much longer than the 15 days. Left-hander Chris Narveson made his second rehab start for Nashville on Tuesday, allowing six runs on eight hits in two innings.
"We would like 'Narvy' to go four (rehab starts), but if he goes three and it fits in perfect, we'll think about it," Roenicke said. "But we have some other guys. We could have a bullpen day. Hand could go long. ( Tom) Gorzelanny could go long. We could do that if we needed to."
Braun, Ramirez sit: The Brewers will play without their third and fourth hitters in Wednesday's series finale with Oakland, as left fielder Ryan Braun and third baseman Aramis Ramirez both received scheduled off days.
Braun is still bothered by a right thumb injury, which flared up again in Tuesday's 4-3 victory over the Athletics. Roenicke was going to give Braun either Wednesday or Thursday off but decided Wednesday was the best day, despite Ramirez also needing to sit.
"We gain a little bit and then we have a game where it really bothers him," Roenicke said. "Somehow, we have to get rid of this thing in the thumb. We need our third and fourth hitters. We have both of them that I'm kind of nursing along. We really need production out of them.
"For us to get on a roll - we are pitching better now, hopefully that continues - but I'm concerned that the offense with Seggy (Jean Segura) and Nori (Aoki) getting on base a lot, that both of (Braun and Ramirez) have to drive in runs. Both of them are trying to get by nursing some injuries that's really preventing them from playing well."
Henderson nearing return: Brewers closer Jim Henderson will head to Single-A Wisconsin to make a one-game rehab assignment Friday.
Henderson will pitch one inning for the Timber Rattlers as they host Beloit on Friday in Appleton, Wis. If all goes according to plan Friday, Henderson will be activated from the disabled list prior to Sunday's game against Philadelphia.
The Brewers will have to make a corresponding roster move when Henderson returns, as Thornburg or right-hander Donovan Hand could return to Triple-A.
Lohse confident: Right-hander Kyle Lohse injured his left hamstring while running the bases Tuesday, but he's not worried about missing his start Sunday against the Phillies.
Lohse stayed in the game and pitched three more innings, the last two with the hamstring heavily wrapped up.
"He still feels it a little bit, but he doesn't think it will be a problem for his next start," Roenicke said. "So that's the big question with me: Are we jeopardizing the next one? He doesn't think that there's any way it will hurt him for his next one."
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