MILWAUKEE — With left-hander Tom Gorzelanny set to return from the disabled list Saturday, the Milwaukee Brewers needed to make a corresponding roster move. As it turns out, they made two following Friday night’s 6-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
The Brewers optioned outfielder Logan Schafer and infielder Irving Falu to Triple-A Nashville, as utility man Elian Herrera will be recalled and Gorzelanny activated in time for Saturday night’s game against the Reds.
Gorzelanny last appeared for the Brewers on Sept. 2 of last season, as the left-hander missed the rest of the year with a left shoulder injury that eventually needed surgery.
He’s made 10 rehab appearances for Class-A Brevard County and Nashville, posting a 1.15 ERA over 15 2/3 innings. Gorzelanny’s 30 days on rehab assignment expired Thursday and there were some concerns whether he would be ready to pitch in the big leagues after first pitching in games in May.
The Brewers looked closely at Gorzelanny’s outing in Triple-A on Monday and deemed him ready to return.
"No complaints," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Velocity was up, two outings ago, it was up really well. Not quite as good the last one, but heâs been pitching well. The command has been good, the slider’s good. Obviously, we’re hoping to see that same thing."
Roenicke now has four left-handers at his disposal, something that rarely occurs even in an eight-man bullpen like the one the Brewers are currently carrying. Left-handers Zach Duke and Will Smith are both pitching extremely well, while the club is committed to Rule 5 pick Wei-Chung Wang.
Gorzelanny is considered a left-handed specialist by Roenicke, giving the Brewers more flexibility than if they had a couple of guys who could only be used against left-handed hitters. His struggles as a starter led to a final ERA of 3.90 last season, but Gorzelanny had a 2.70 ERA out of the bullpen.
"When he’s throwing right, like he was last year, especially when we had him in relief last year, he pitched against anybody. It didn’t matter," Roenicke said.
Schafer, who spent all of 2013 with the big-league club, struggled to get on track offensively in a bench role for the second straight season, hitting .190 in 92 plate appearances.
Much like Jeff Bianchi, the Brewers are hoping Schafer can find his swing with more consistent at-bats in the minor leagues.
"We’re going with one extra guy in the bullpen and a four-man bench so we’ll try this for a little bit," Roenicke said. "(Schafer) needs to go down and get some at-bats and get his swing back."
Sending Schafer down left the Brewers without a fourth outfielder, which made the decision to swap Falu for Herrera necessary. Herrera can play the outfield and the infield, while Falu is far less experienced in the outfield.
Falu made his first start with Milwaukee on Friday, going 0-for-3 with a walk and a throwing error in the field. He ended 0-for-10 at the plate in his first stint with the Brewers.
Optioned to Triple-A on June 4, Herrera has a .226 batting average in 55 plate appearances for the Brewers this season. The 29-year-old is hitting .333 with 7 RBI in 28 games for the Sounds.