MINNEAPOLIS -- Trevor Hoffman was released from the Brewers' repair shop on Sunday, but did not return to action as the team's closer.Instead, Hoffman, Major League Baseball's all-time leader with 596 saves, became the 14th pitcher in history to pitch his 1,000th game while working as Milwaukee's setup man. He needed only 10 pitches, nine of them strikes, in a perfect eighth inning that helped preserve a 4-3 win over the Twins that avoided a three-game sweep. John Axford allowed a run and then loaded the bases in the ninth inning, but notched the save. In his 18th season, Hoffman logged his first career hold. The 1,000th appearance meant more. "I'm proud of the fact I was able to reach that," he said. "It talks about durability. I'm glad to get there." Hoffman might pitch a few more of the middle innings for the Brewers as he searches for the form that gave him 37 saves last season in 41 chances. He entered Sunday 5-for-10 in save opportunities with a 13.15 ERA and had not pitched since a blown save in Cincinnati on Tuesday. Asked before the game about his willingness to work innings other than the ninth, Hoffman said he was "ready to go. It's about winning ballgames. We briefly discussed it, and it's obviously not where I want to pitch, but I've put myself in this position and put the team in a [poor] position. [Manager Ken Macha] needs to worry about many different facets of what's going on, so if I go out and throw the ball better than I have for a little bit, then things will change back." Macha and pitching coach Rick Peterson discussed the arrangement in a brief chat with Hoffman on Friday. On Saturday, Hoffman took part in his second pregame bullpen session with Peterson, working on mechanical adjustments related to arm slot that Peterson believes will add more downward movement to his pitches. "It's nice to be active again," Hoffman said. "Our little hiatus of work hopefully will pay off." Even if it paid off in a setup situation. Working with a 4-2 lead, Hoffman struck out Trevor Plouffe before a showdown with reigning American League MVP Joe Mauer, who had Sunday off until he appeared as a pinch-hitter. Mauer hit a ball back to the mound, where Hoffman backhanded it and threw to first for the second out. Alexi Casilla popped the next pitch to third baseman Casey McGehee in foul ground to end the inning. Did Hoffman see a difference in his stuff? "Not really. It was more in the swings that I got," he said. "There was a little bit more deception again to my pitches." Carlos Villanueva was 1-for-2 in save opportunities in place of Hoffman before Axford got the call on Sunday. The Brewers also added a new weapon to the bullpen Sunday in 22-year-old left-hander Zach Braddock, a hard-thrower who could someday evolve into a closer. "It's a kick in the stomach to everybody when the team blows a save," Macha said. "I don't want to put anybody on the spot because guys are out there ... doing the best they can. The whole thing is under a microscope."
Braddock makes Major League debut
MINNEAPOLIS -- On Thursday, Brewers left-handed pitching prospect Zach Braddock was 10 minutes from boarding an airplane bound for the big leagues, only to get a telephone call telling him the promotion was off. He was back at the Fresno, Calif., airport on Saturday morning, and you can imagine how tense those final few minutes at the gate must have been."I may have turned my phone off," he joked. Braddock was supposed to be promoted ahead of the Brewers' weekend series in Minnesota, but an injury to catcher Gregg Zaun forced the team to promote a catcher instead. He just happened to be Jonathan Lucroy, Braddock's road roommate. On Saturday night, Braddock made it to Minneapolis, and the Brewers formally purchased his contract from Triple-A Nashville on Sunday morning. He pitched two scoreless innings in a win over the Twins, stranding a pair of baserunners in a 25-pitch sixth inning before needing only 12 more deliveries in a 1-2-3 seventh. He struck out Michael Cuddyer swinging at a slider to end the sixth inning and caught Brendan Harris looking at a 94-mph fastball to end the seventh. "That was an excellent first outing, especially with the nature of this game and what's happened [to the team] prior to this," pitching coach Rick Peterson said. "He's never been to the big leagues and only has minimal time at Triple-A. To come in and give us two big innings when we're really short, that's special."
Said Braddock: "The outing was definitely enjoyable. To help the team get to a win was a great experience as well. I'm glad we could have this win."The team optioned left-handed specialist Mitch Stetter back to Nashville to clear a 25-man roster spot for Braddock, a decision made before Stetter walked the only batter he faced in Saturday's extra-innings loss. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Braddock, the Brewers transferred rehabbing third baseman Mat Gamel to the 60-day disabled list. Braddock was simply outstanding at Nashville, at least in 10 of his 11 appearances. He held opponents scoreless over 15 1/3 innings in those games, and allowed eight earned runs in the other, a two-thirds of an inning stint at hitter-friendly Albuquerque. "All of the funny little things that can happen in a baseball game [did]," Braddock said. "Some things didn't go my way. The scores from that series were pretty up there. There's nothing to blame it on, just one of those days. All I want to do is concentrate and move past it." "He's obviously excited to be here and I'm sure he wants to take advantage of the opportunity," said bullpen sage Trevor Hoffman on Sunday morning. "He's excited. I think he's been sweating for two hours already."
Weeks hoping to break out of slump
MINNEAPOLIS -- If his two-run, ninth-inning double on Saturday is any indication, Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks may be primed to break out of a recent slump at the plate.
Including a 1-for-5 showing in yesterday's 8-7 loss, Weeks is 6-for-47 over his last 11 games, all of which he batted leadoff for the Brewers.
That slump is part of the reason manager Ken Macha opted to sit Weeks for the series opener against the Twins on Friday. But after Weeks' double Saturday night, Macha is encouraged by the approach of his second baseman.
"What I really liked is he hit it to right center," Macha said. "He stayed on the ball. Hopefully, he's going to start coming around. Everybody says how [Ryan] Braun and [Prince] Fielder go, so goes the Brewers, but Rickie's got to get on base, and he hasn't been doing that."
Weeks, who Macha characterized as being quiet and hard on himself when things are not going well at the plate, said he is not one to change anything when struggling offensively.
"My whole thing is, if you keep swinging the bat, good things will happen," Weeks said. "It's still fairly young in the season, but I'm the type of person that I still want to do good. So I've just got to keep working hard."
One thing that may help Weeks string together a few hits soon is the return of center fielder Carlos Gomez to the everyday lineup in the No. 2 spot. With the way Gomez has looked so far in his return, Weeks is likely to see better pitches to hit than if the Brewers continued to cycle hitters through that spot in the order.
Though he admitted it would be a common reaction to press a bit in order to break out of his recent slump, Weeks said he kept the same approach throughout. After 11 straight games with one hit or less, the second baseman likes his chances of turning it around.
"As a hitter, it's up to you to turn it around," Weeks said. "I feel good right now with the way I've played. Over the last couple games, I couldn't catch any breaks, but for the most part, I feel good right now."
Utility man Joe Inglett was unavailable Sunday after suffering a sprained left ankle in Saturday's loss. ... Hall of Famer Robin Yount watched Sunday's game in the press box at Target Field. He committed to play in a charity golf tournament Monday hosted by Twins legend Harmon Killebrew months ago, and discovered only recently that the Brewers happened to be Minnesota's weekend opponent. ... Marco Estrada on Sunday became the eighth different pitcher to start a game for the Brewers. Last season, the Brewers used nine different starters.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter and Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.