MILWAUKEE — The minute Tyson Ross’s electric fastball drilled him on the hand, Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Donovan Hand feared the worst.
A day after leaving the game before the fifth inning, Hand considers himself fortunate to escape with just a bruise.
“I think I will make my next start,” Hand said. “I don’t see anything holding me back. From this morning when I woke up, I’ve already made progress.”
Hand’s inability to grip the baseball was a big reason why he had to leave the game Tuesday. He threw a bit on the side before Wednesday night’s game against San Diego and was able to grip the baseball a bit better.
“The range of motion is not great in my wrist, but it’s swelling,” Hand said. “It’s swelled up. Obviously if you take 97 off the hand it’s going to swell up.”
Figaro returns: After pitching in just one game on his rehab assignment, right-hander Alfredo Figaro was reinstated from the disabled list Wednesday to fill the roster spot vacated when Francisco Rodriguez was traded to Baltimore.
On the disabled list since June 25 with a right oblique strain, Figaro worked 2 1/3 innings and struck out four in a rookie ball game Monday in Arizona.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve pitched at the big league level, but I feel I’m ready to throw the ball,” Figaro said. “I feel I’m ready to pitch here.”
Stationed at Milwaukee’s spring training facility in Phoenix, Figaro said the most frustrating part of the process was being patient while the oblique healed.
“The only thing you can do is just take time,” Figaro said. “There’s nothing to make you better, just take time to let it heal. You can just ice it and that’s it. There’s no exercise for that, just time.”
Figaro has a 3.07 ERA in 16 relief appearances this season and a 6.48 ERA in five starts for the Brewers. He’ll slide back into the long relief role, but could potentially slide back into the rotation if needed.
“I like both,” Figaro said. “It doesn’t matter to me. Just the only thing that I was thinking was to get better to come back to the team, it didn’t matter how. I just wanted to be healthy and just do my job. It doesn’t matter where. As soon as I come in the game, just do my job.”
Closing time: With Rodriguez shipped of to Baltimore, the Brewers are faced with ninth inning questions yet again.
For now, Roenicke plans to use John Axford, Jim Henderson and even Michael Gonzalez as closing options until somebody grabs the job and runs with it.
“I’m going to try and matchup what we see out there,” Roenicke said. “Sometimes guys are better against left-handers, some guys we maybe keep against right-handers. I think Ax’s history is a little bit better against the lefties. We’ll try to match them up that way and also see where we are in the lineups and history against them.
“Then if one of them is going to be lights out, he’s going to do that job.”
Henderson is tied with Rodriguez for the team lead in saves with 10. While Axford doesn’t have a save this season, he led the team in saves in each of the past three seasons.
After Rodriguez was traded Monday, Axford spoke to how Rodriguez’s leadership would be missed throughout the entire bullpen. On Wednesday, Roenicke echoed the thought.
“Most people in baseball don’t understand what Frankie does down in the bullpen other than coming out and pitching,” Roenicke said. “Frankie has been a leader down there for a long time. When I was with him with the Angels, he was the guy that kept that group together there. I mean getting them prepared for what they need to do, telling the young guys how to be prepared to be ready and who they are going to come in and face. That knowledge and that experience was big here also. That will be missed.”
Lineup shift: The Brewers will trot out their 72nd different lineup Wednesday against San Diego, as usual leadoff hitter Norichika Aoki slides down to the second slot in the lineup, while Rickie Weeks will hit leadoff.
Milwaukee is 38-52 with Aoki hitting leadoff, while the Brewers are 2-2 with Weeks in the top spot of the batting order.
“It wasn’t moving Nori down, it was trying to put Rickie up,” Roenicke said. “With not having a third or fourth hitter, trying to figure out how to push this lineup to try to get the guys kind of where I think they are comfortable or have a better chance to succeed. If Logan (Schafer) is not in there, I don’t want to put (Caleb) Gindl second.
“It’s something Rick has been very good at in the past. Hopefully it will help us get some guys on base. Let’s face it, we’ve been struggling offensively, maybe this will jumpstart it a bit.”