Gagne nearing return, will set up Torres
Brewers' rehabbing reliever up for any role he's assigned
MILWAUKEE -- Eric Gagne threw another successful bullpen session on Thursday and said he's on a program to rejoin the Brewers' bullpen on June 27 in Minnesota.
He probably will not be the team's closer when he gets back. Assuming Salomon Torres continues to excel in that role, Brewers manager Ned Yost cannot see a way to take the job away from him.
"We can't do that right now," Yost said. "Salomon has done a nice job."That is OK with Gagne. "I'm here to win," Gagne said. "That's all I care about. Salomon has been throwing unbelievable, and if I get upset with that, that would be stupid. That would be selfish. ... All I demanded when I came over here was respect, and they showed me a lot of respect. "Closing, setting up, [pitching the] third inning, I don't care. That's the last of my worries. I just want to compete, get back on the mound." Gagne has not been on the mound in a game since he strained his right shoulder in a May 20 appearance at Pittsburgh. He has been on the disabled list since, but he threw a bullpen session at about 90 percent of full strength on Thursday morning and is scheduled to throw a simulated game to hitters on Saturday at Miller Park. Assuming that goes well, Gagne said he would travel Monday to Nashville for a Triple-A rehabilitation appearance on Tuesday at home and Thursday at Round Rock, Texas. He could then travel on June 27 to Minneapolis, where the Brewers begin an Interleague series against the Twins. "It's a good decision to have," Gagne said of the one facing Yost. "If he didn't have a choice, if he had to put me back in right away, that would be a 'bad decision.' That means nobody stepped up." He just wants to pitch. "You can say, 'Day to day,' but it's so frustrating," Gagne said. Gagne is 10-for-15 this season in save opportunities with a 6.98 ERA. He struggled last season as a second-half setup man for the Red Sox, posting a 6.75 ERA in 20 games, and this spring Yost attributed those troubles to pitching outside of his usual closer's role. Now that he's considering using Gagne the same way Boston manager Terry Francona did last year, Yost downplayed the difference between the eighth and ninth innings. "If you're comfortable in the ninth, you'll be comfortable anywhere," Yost said. "It kind of builds up. It's like crawling up a ladder if you're scared of heights. ... Gagne can climb to the top of the ladder, and it doesn't scare him. "He's a little more experienced with [pitching setup]. And I don't think it was even the eighth inning last year, it was like the sixth or seventh. That was the first time that it changed his routine. I think he's a little more experienced at it now that he's been through it."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.