Brewers Tuesday: Henderson has successful surgery

At his age (31) and with a history of shoulder injuries, it is fair to question whether Brewers reliever Jim Henderson can work his way back to the big leagues.

Lance Iversen/Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Brewers reliever Jim Henderson underwent successful right shoulder surgery Tuesday morning to clean up the rotator cuff and labrum.

The surgery was performed by Dr. James Andrews in Florida and is expected to carry a rehab time of four months.

Henderson last pitched May 1 in Cincinnati when he allowed five earned runs in a loss to the Reds. He was placed on the disabled list the following day with right shoulder inflammation.

Coming of a 28-save season in 2013, Henderson came to spring training as Milwaukee’s closer. He battled shoulder issues in the spring, which caused Brewers manager Ron Roenicke to opt to go with Francisco Rodriguez as the team’s closer on Opening Day.

Henderson began the year in a set-up role, posting a 7.15 ERA in 14 appearances before having to be placed on the disabled list.

"Not a good year for him," Roenicke said. "Mentally, you get through it and hopefully you heal up physically and are able to get back out there."

After making one appearance for Double-A Huntsville in late May, Henderson was pulled back from his minor-league rehab assignment after feeling pain in his troublesome shoulder during his lone outing with the Stars.

Henderson began a second minor-league rehab assignment July 3 with Milwaukee’s rookie-level team in Arizona and eventually two appearances for Huntsville and pitched in three games for Triple-A Nashville in the allotted 30 days.

When the rehab assignment was over, Henderson and the Brewers agreed he wasn’t ready to return to the big-league bullpen and instead traveled to the team’s facility in Phoenix to attempt to strengthen the shoulder.

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Henderson, who will turn 32 years old in October, had right shoulder surgery in 2008 after pitching in just eight games in the Cubs minor-league system that season. At his age and with a history of shoulder injuries, it is fair to question whether Henderson can work his way back to the big leagues.

"It’s a tough road," Roenicke said. "Rehabbing is always tough. I’m sure he’s got questions about whether he’s going to come back or not. That’s a tough thing to go through."

On the mend: The Brewers have a tentative plan in place for Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza to return to the starting rotation, as both have progressed of late. Lohse is having his current turn in the rotation skipped to let a sprained right ankle heal, while Garza has been on the disabled list since Aug. 5 with a strained left oblique.

To allow the ankle to heal, Lohse is not taking batting practice with the rest of the starting pitchers and won’t throw a bullpen session in the coming days. Garza threw from 90 feet Monday and backed up to 120 feet on Tuesday.

"If everything goes right with Garza, we should see him somewhere in the first few days or week in September — but that’s if everything goes well," Roenicke said. "Lohse, probably won’t be this homestand but I would expect shortly after that. We know when we’ve got them slotted to go in, I just don’t want to announce it yet."

The Brewers do not need a fill in for Lohse due to a pair of off days this week, but they will need to make a decision as to who to take out of the rotation when Garza returns. Mike Fiers is the likely choice to move to the bullpen, but the right-hander could make the decision a bit tougher if he continues to pitch the way he has in his first two starts for the Brewers.

According to Roenicke, the decision as to when to bring Lohse back is independent of how Fiers or anybody else in the rotation performs.

"It’s when he feels like he can go out there and pitch with it not affecting what he does," Roenicke said. "Even though it hasn’t hurt him, I think it affected the last outing and probably the outing before that, too. We want to make sure that he’s right. We know that to get this done, we have to have him at full strength."

The Brewers have yet to decide if Garza will need to go on a minor-league rehab assignment or will just throw a simulated game before returning.

"We want to see how everything works out, schedule-wise, and what’s best to do at that point," Roenicke said. "We’re a little bit fortunate that if it’s September, which we’re thinking it is, we don’t have to have him go a certain length to really be important like you would normally because you’d burn up your bullpen. If we have some extra arms, we feel if he goes three innings, he goes three innings."

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