Notes: Hart banged up, but back
Extra extras would've been interesting; freak injury for Yost IV
CHICAGO -- Manager Ned Yost revealed Tuesday that outfielder Corey Hart was unavailable for hitting duty on Sunday and Monday because of a sprained right wrist, but Hart was back in the lineup Tuesday night.
Hart was injured on Saturday, when he stole second and third base in the fourth inning of a Brewers win over the Astros. Players are taught in Spring Training to keep their arms up when they slide feet-first. Hart did not heed that advice.
"It was like a sprained ankle, but way worse," Hart said. "The next day I couldn't turn my hand."
He underwent X-rays after Saturday's game, which came back negative. Still, on a 1-to-10 pain scale, Hart said it was a 10 on Sunday. His arm felt better Monday and he took some swings, and after a round of early batting practice Tuesday, Hart was cleared to play.
Hart's injury answered one of the more pressing questions of Monday's game: with six outfielders on the roster, why in the world was left-handed-hitting Gabe Gross left in the game to bat against Cubs lefty Will Ohman in the sixth inning and Scott Eyre in the eighth? Both times, the Brewers were rallying, and both times Gross flew out.
Right-handed-hitting outfielders on the bench included Kevin Mench, who was hitting .421 against lefties this season, and Hart, who was hitting .412 off southpaws. But with no Hart, the sixth inning was too early to burn Mench, Yost said, and Eyre's struggles this season may have contributed to the decision to let Gross bat in the eighth.
Do what it takes: Had Monday's 12-inning marathon stretched on two more scoreless frames, outfielder Gross would have pitched and pitcher Dave Bush would have played right field.
Carlos Villanueva, who worked four scoreless innings of relief for the win, was finished after throwing 68 pitches, leaving Derrick Turnbow as the only available Brewers reliever. Closer Francisco Cordero had thrown 57 pitches over the previous two days, and Yost determined that he would not use Cordero in any circumstance.
Turnbow would have been good for two innings, Yost figured, but no more. Wednesday scheduled starter Ben Sheets pleaded his availability to Yost, and started going through his pregame routine of getting his back loose. But Yost said he instead would have used Gross, who has not appeared as a pitcher since a scoreless inning of work in his sophomore season at Auburn University in 2000.
"I've got a sinker, but I don't know if it sinks. And I've got a cutter, don't know if it cuts," Gross joked. "I can throw a breaking pitch, but I don't know what you could call it. I can throw strikes, I do know that."
How many innings could he have pitched?
"I could throw a bunch, but whether I could have moved the rest of the year, we don't know," Gross said.
Bush began his collegiate career at Wake Forest University as a catcher, so at least he has some familiarity with a positional spot. But his first question after Yost told him to be ready Monday was, "Which glove do I use?"
"I guess I would have used this one," Bush said, holding up his small pitcher's glove. "At least I'm comfortable with it. It was a little nerve-wracking for a while there."
Banged up: Yost's son, Ned Yost IV, will miss about a week at Class A Brevard County because of a strange injury that conjured memories of Brewers reliever Matt Wise's run-in with salad tongs last summer. He was enjoying a team off-day Sunday at the beach, and suffered a shoulder injury when a wave crashed into him and sent him tumbling into someone else.
The younger Yost, who is batting .348 as the Manatees' designated hitter and backup first baseman, meekly called his dad to explain.
"You know how a manager is when a guy gets hurt on the beach," Yost the elder said. "It doesn't matter if it's your son or not."
Last call: Yost did not like Claudio Vargas' slow pace on Monday and has told the right-hander to pick it up. "That was the first time he has done it with us," Yost said. "Get on the mound and deliver it. It not only keeps your infielders ready, it keeps you in the game. Tempo is very important. It's like golf; you can't stand there and take six or seven practice swings. You're a lot better just taking one practice swing, then get up there and hack." ... Entering Tuesday's game, the Brewers had homered in each of their last nine games at Wrigley Field. Since 2005, the Brewers had hit 1.81 home runs per game (29 homers/16 games) at Wrigley, more than any stadium during that time. ... Before his fielding error Monday, second baseman Rickie Weeks had not been charged with an error in his last 45 games, including his first 18 games this season. Last year, he had seven errors through 18 games.
On deck: Sheets, who is winless in three starts since beating the Dodgers on Opening Day, will take the ball when the Brewers face Ted Lilly and the Cubs in the finale of a three-game series Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.