MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Brewers No. 5 starter Chris Narveson knew something wasn’t right with his left shoulder soon after his last start — an April 15 loss to the Braves in which he worked just four innings.
And with the soreness in his throwing shoulder lingering, the team announced Friday that Narveson would be placed on the 15-day disabled list with a tear in his left rotator cuff. It’s unsure whether the injury is serious enough to force season-ending surgery.
Narveson received an MRI on Friday and met with team doctor William Raasch. Next, he’ll pursue a second opinion to be sure of the extent of the injury and the necessary course of action. The possibility of surgery hasn’t been brought up yet, but he acknowledged “it may come up” when doctors find out more.
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“There’s been some issues going on and obviously some red flags on the MRI,” Narveson said. “There could be something that’s going on. Obviously, we want to wait until we get opinions from everybody before we decide exactly what it is.”
Narveson briefly had issues with his shoulder before making it to the big leagues in 2005 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Those problems required surgery on his labrum.
Narveson, who was one of baseball’s best No. 5 starters last year with an 11-8 record and 4.45 ERA, was scheduled to start in Milwaukee’s second game of its series with Colorado on Saturday. Instead, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said on Friday that reliever Marco Estrada would get the start in Narveson’s place. Estrada filled in last season when Narveson went to the DL after cutting his hand.
Losing an effective starter like Narveson this early in the season could be a huge blow to a rotation that remained healthy for the majority of 2011. That’s especially true for a pitching staff that has the fourth-worst team ERA in the majors (5.05) through 13 games.
“He was a huge part of this team last year,” fellow starter Yovani Gallardo said. “We were able to keep all five healthy last year, but unfortunately things happen in this game. It just sucks this early in the season to have one of the guys go down with a tough injury.”
Added Roenicke: “We’ll see what happens. If it’s just the DL, it doesn’t impact the team that much. … If it’s long-term, yeah, it makes a difference.”
So far this season, Narveson was 1-1 with a 7.00 ERA in two starts.
Estrada started in seven games last season for the Brewers, finishing 3-2 in those games with a 3.70 ERA. This season, he’s pitched six innings with a 3.00 ERA in relief. But despite most of his chances being out of the bullpen since coming to Milwaukee, Estrada has always kept a starting pitcher’s mentality.
“I love starting,” Estrada said Friday. “It’s what I hope to do one day. I feel comfortable doing it, just because I’ve done it for so long. That’s really what I’d like to do.”
Roenicke said Estrada had earned the right to start with the success he had and confidence he gained in spot starts last season.
The question still remains how deep Estrada will be able to go, but after being prepared during spring training to take Shaun Marcum’s place in the rotation — Marcum had a stiff shoulder — Estrada may be more stretched out than most relievers.
Additionally, with Narveson on the DL, the Brewers were able to call up reliever Mike McClendon to take his place. And with another reliever, Kameron Loe, going on bereavement leave for three days starting on Saturday, Milwaukee plans to also call up one of its top pitching prospects from Triple-A Nashville on Saturday in right-hander Wily Peralta.
Roenicke said some thought had been given to Peralta starting Saturday.
“I think if (Estrada) hadn’t had that experience and success (last year), then we’re talking about Wily Peralta making that start. … This is a guy that we really like in the future.”
It’s undecided at this point whether Peralta will remain in Milwaukee past Loe’s return next week, but Roenicke did say he hoped Peralta would get a chance to get into a game and become more comfortable while he’s in Milwaukee.
For now, though, with Narveson’s status in question, the Brewers will just hope for the best to keep together a rotation that was one of the healthiest in baseball last season.