Hall, Riske play simulated inning
Injured Brewers rehab together; Looper to throw this week
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- While the rest of the Brewers worked out Sunday morning at Maryvale Baseball Park, reliever David Riske and third baseman Bill Hall together took a step forward in their return from injuries.
Riske, who has been taking it easy this spring after undergoing right elbow surgery last fall, threw a simulated inning on a Minor League field against a group of hitters that included the rehabbing Hall, who followed J.R. Hopf's leadoff single with a two-run home run. In all, Riske faced six hitters -- Hall batted three times -- and threw precisely 20 pitches, which was his target.After Hall's long homer to right, Riske retired the next four hitters in order. The reliever's deceptive fastball drew raves from Hall. "All of his fastballs come out looking like something else," said Hall, who happened to connect on one of those fastballs for his home run. "My second at-bat, he was just dotting the corner of the plate, which is good for him. You see it late, and sometimes he has a good rise to his ball, so it gets on you a lot quicker than you would think." It was Riske's first action since a procedure last September to remove a bone spur. The reliever has not had any setbacks, and the medical staff will evaluate Riske again Monday, before making a plan based on how he bounces back from Sunday's outing. Riske could be asked to throw in Minor League camp once more before making his Cactus League debut. Riske and right-hander Carlos Villanueva are the Brewers' leading candidates to set up closer Trevor Hoffman. Before Riske was whisked away in a golf cart after his outing, he said he felt good. In other injury news: Hall is cautiously working back from a slight tear to his left calf. He was to participate in some running drills after his at-bats against Riske -- Hall did not run the bases on his home run -- but his timeline for appearing in a game remains unclear. "I asked that directly today," manager Ken Macha said. "They're still being very conservative with him, so they can't put their finger on exactly when." Hall believes he still has plenty of time to prepare for the season, and Macha agreed. He would like to see Hall play in at least 10 exhibition games, and after Sunday, the Brewers still had 23 games in Arizona and two at Dodger Stadium remaining before their April 7 regular-season opener in San Francisco. "There haven't been any red flags thrown up that he's not going to be ready," Macha said. Right-hander Braden Looper is scheduled to throw a side session by the middle of the week, Macha said. Looper has yet to appear in a game because of a strained muscle at the back of his ribcage. Like Hall, Looper is on a conservative track. "There is a chance" his next appearance would come in a game, Macha said, but it's more likely that medical staffers would ask Looper to throw at least one more mound session before he is cleared. "I don't think they have changed their minds about taking small steps," Macha said. Catcher Mike Rivera was cleared Sunday to hit in the batting cage. He strained his right hamstring in baserunning drills on Thursday and received a cortisone shot. Injured outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. returned to camp after a few days at home, where his wife gave birth to daughter Jordan Alicia. Gwynn received a cortisone shot to treat inflammation in his throwing shoulder and will be re-evaluated on Monday.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.