MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers placed closer Jim Henderson on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring following Saturday’s 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh.
Brewers team physician Dr. William Raasch examined Henderson prior to Saturday’s game and diagnosed the injury as a mild hamstring strain. Milwaukee will make a corresponding roster move before Sunday afternoon’s series finale with Pittsburgh.
“He didn’t see any gaps for whatever he was feeling around in there for,” Henderson said. “It wasn’t a serious pull. I’m just kind of taking the better safe than sorry route right now. If they weren’t going to DL me, there would be that pressure to rush back. We’ll just take our time with it.
“The biggest thing for me is I just want to keep my arm in shape, to be able to go out there and play catch and keep that going. That’s the key right there.”
Henderson was injured Friday night while trying to record the save in Milwaukee’s 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh. With the speedy Andrew McCutchen on first base as the tying run, Henderson’s right hamstring pulled on a 2-1 pitch to Pirates catcher Russell Martin, causing him to leave the game.
Martin hit the pitch back up the middle, as Henderson deflected the ball to shortstop Jean Segura, and the Brewers got an out at second base. Francisco Rodriguez came in to get the final out for his first save of the season.
“It’s a rare injury for how he did it, pushing off the rubber to throw a pitch,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “You would think it would be more on the landing leg. He’s trying to be quick because you had McCutchen wanting to steal at first base and he quickened it up. I don’t know if that was why.”
While there’s never a good time to make a trip to the disabled list, Henderson was a perfect nine-for-nine in save opportunities this season and sports a 0.92 ERA.
“Just anytime you are pitching well it’s tough to sit out, especially when it has nothing to do with the arm,” Henderson said. “Hopefully I won’t skip a beat when I come back.
“It’s tough right now. We’re getting hit. Some guys are coming off the DL, some guys are going on. We still haven’t played this year at full strength. I know it’s hurting us in all areas of the game, offensively and pitching.”
Roenicke isn’t going to name one guy as the closer right now, but has a few guys in mind he’d like to use based on the match-ups. For right now, former closer John Axford doesn’t appear to be one of those options.
“I think we like what we are doing with Ax now,” Roenicke said. “We’ll probably continue to do it that way.”
Other than Axford, Rodriguez and left-hander Michael Gonzalez both have closing experience. Rodriguez’s save Friday was the 295th of his career, while Gonzalez has 56 career saves.
Though he signed late and just joined the Brewers last week, Rodriguez feels strong enough to handle a full workload in the closers’ role if Roenicke chooses to use him.
“Obviously, I have the experience,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not my first time that I’ve been out there. Right now, I have no idea what’s going to happen. I just have to be ready to pitch the way we’ve been pitching the last eight or nine games.”
Up in the air: Milwaukee’s starter for Tuesday’s game against Minnesota is still yet to be determined.
Henderson’s injury has left the Brewers talking about different options with their entire pitching staff. Originally slated to pitch against the Twins, right-hander Hiram Burgos was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday with a right shoulder impingement.
“We talked about something a little bit different today,” Roenicke said. “Not necessarily because of what happened with Henderson but just kind of rearranging some guys. That may change.
“Just trying to rearrange the bullpen now. If it was going to be (Alfredo) Figaro as long guy, now who do we have as long guy? Because we have to bump some guys up now later in the game. (Brandon) Kintzler we talked about maybe trying to go a little longer with him, but now he becomes important, whether it’s the eighth or where that is. That changes how we feel that way … Whoever we bring up we need to fill a certain role. That changed with Henderson.”
Roenicke mentioned Figaro, who has a 3.24 ERA in 25 innings this season, as a potential candidate to make the start, and he remains the only viable in-house option.
Though he has made all 14 of his appearances this season out of the bullpen, Figaro has four big league starts under his belt and has worked as a starting pitcher the past two seasons in Japan.
“I’ve been a starter all of my life,” Figaro said. “This is my first year in the bullpen. All I can say, that was my spot for five years.”
Narveson will be stretched: Left-hander Chris Narveson will soon head out on a minor league rehab assignment with the intention of returning stretched out as a starting pitcher.
Out since the first week of April with a sprained ligament in his left middle finger, Narveson threw a simulated game Friday and plans to throw another session Monday. If all goes well, he’ll head out on a rehab assignment.
“We’ve talked about whether to do it in Appleton for the first couple or whether to go straight to Nashville,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “I don’t think we’ve come up with an answer to that yet.
“We’d like it to be a little bit warmer weather. We’ll see. End of May you wouldn’t think we’d be worrying about cold weather but we are.”
With Milwaukee’s rotation struggling, Narveson could have an opportunity to slide into the mix when he returns. The plan is for him to throw two innings in his first rehab start, and he will need to make multiple starts before he’s ready to return.