Rob Wooten will likely join Tyler Thornburg and Zach Duke as those tasked to cover the middle innings.
Joe Camporeale/Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
MILWAUKEE — Though he was disappointed to be the last one cut from the Milwaukee Brewers’ bullpen, Rob Wooten knew moping about it was only going to keep him in Triple-A even longer.
So the right-hander went to Nashville and retired all nine batters he faced and picked up three saves in three outings. That made the Brewers’ decision to bring Wooten up an easy one after Brandon Kintzler had to go on the 15-day disabled list with a mild strained right rotator cuff.
"It took a couple days, but when it happened, if you sit back and sulk about it, it’s going to hurt you," Wooten said. "I wanted to get into the right mind set, and I did.
"I wanted to get off to a really good start in Nashville. If that opportunity presented itself, I wanted to make sure that I was one of the guys they’d consider."
Wooten began 2013 in Nashville and had a 2.94 ERA with 20 saves before his contract was selected by the Brewers on July 26. In 27 outings with Milwaukee last season, the 28-year-old went 3-1 with a 3.90 ERA.
He put himself in position to make the roster by posting a 3.86 ERA in 11 2/3 innings this spring but was done in by the club’s decision to keep Rule 5 pick Wei-Chung Wang on the roster.
"Coming out of the spring, he easily could have been on this team," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "With him going and throwing well . . . he’s on the roster, he’s got options. There’s lots of reasons why. But we want him here. That’s the main reason."
The Brewers sent a couple of guys to Triple-A that have big-league experience, with Wooten being one of them. Having that depth waiting in the wings was one of the reasons why the Brewers felt good about their pitching staff heading into the season.
"I’m comfortable with him in any situation," Roenicke said. "Left-hander, right-hander — he showed he can get lefties out last year — it’s a lot different than bringing a guy up and being unsure of what he can do for you."
Wooten joined Mike Adams as the only Brewers pitchers to begin their big-league careers with 10 or more scoreless innings, as he didn’t allow a run in his first 11 innings in 2013.
10 of the 12 earned runs Wooten allowed last season came over three outings, including allowing five earned runs in just 2/3 of an inning in a 7-2 loss to St. Louis on Sept. 21.
"I’ve played this game long enough to know that things are not going to be easy," Wooten said. "I got off to a great start here, knowing that wasn’t going to last like that. But I didn’t change anything. I kept doing what I was doing. I learned from it, built off it and finished off the season pretty strong. I came into spring training with the most confidence that I’ve ever had, and I still have it."
Wooten found out he was coming up early enough on Saturday that he was able to watch the Brewers win their eighth game in a row. He’ll join a bullpen that’s currently sporting the lowest ERA in baseball at 0.83.
With Kintzler temporarily down, Roenicke plans on covering the eighth inning with Jim Henderson and Will Smith. Wooten will likely join Tyler Thornburg and Zach Duke as those tasked to cover the middle innings.
"I just want to come in and keep things going," Wooten said. "I’m not here to do anything other than keep it going."