The Milwaukee Brewers optioned second baseman Scooter Gennett to Triple-A Nashville following Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over San Francisco, clearing the way for right-hander Marco Estrada to come off the disabled list.
At the time Estrada went on the disabled list in June, he expected to be out for just the required 15 days. But the left hamstring strain and a back injury has delayed his return by nearly two months.
Ideally, the Brewers would have loved to give Estrada at least one more rehab start before they brought him back up, but Tom Gorzelanny’s bruised left elbow left a hole for Wednesday’s start.
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Estrada will fill the void, but will be limited. He threw just 47 pitches in his last rehab start for Triple-A Nashville and will only be able to throw about 75 pitches against the Giants on Wednesday.
After posting a 3.64 ERA in 29 games and 23 starts last season, Estrada has struggled to a 5.32 ERA in 12 starts for the Brewers in 2013. With the ballclub in transition, Estrada isn’t assured of being in the starting rotation or being with the team at all in 2014.
The final two months of this season will be crucial for him to prove he can be a consistent big league starter and that begins Wednesday. Gorzelanny and Yovani Gallardo will eventually return to the starting rotation, making Estrada’s upcoming starts more meaningful.
“It’s important for him to finish up well,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “We know he can also go to the bullpen, but it’s important for him to finish up well if he wants to continue starting, to show us what he did last year. It’s different this year. I don’t know why, but it’s different.”
Gennett was called up last Tuesday as the extra man in Milwaukee’s doubleheader in Chicago, but then was kept up when Gallardo was placed on the 15-day disabled list the next day.
Roenicke planned to again platoon Gennett and Rickie Weeks at second base, but also knew the 23-year-old was going to be the odd man out when a pitcher was recalled. The Brewers are comfortable going to a four-man bench for the time being because they will play five games with the designated hitter starting Friday in Seattle.
Hitting .231 with one home run and five RBI for the season, Gennett started three games in his latest stint in the big leagues, hitting .300 over the last week.