MILWAUKEE -- John Axford can't help but feel at least partly responsible for Brewers bullpen coach Stan Kyles losing his job on Monday.Kyles' dismissal came on the heels of Axford's seventh blown save in what has been a disastrous season for the Milwaukee bullpen. As a whole, the group has blown 20 saves and recorded 26 losses entering Monday; both numbers rank last in the Major Leagues. The bullpen's 4.80 ERA (28th) and .274 opponent batting average (29th) also are among the worst in baseball. "Once I found out, obviously I take some of the blame for it," Axford said. "It hurts me thinking about it because with the season that we're having down there, something like that doesn't happen. We had an outstanding season last year as a bullpen. Those numbers just weren't reached this year. Obviously the people to blame are the people that are going out there, and nobody feels worse other than us, the guys that are stepping on the mound." This season was Kyles' 11th with the Brewers and his fourth as the bullpen coach. Milwaukee's Minor League pitching coordinator Lee Tunnell will take over the position and join the team on Tuesday. Axford joined the Milwaukee 'pen in 2009, the same year Lyles took the position he was released from Monday. In those years, Axford said Kyles helped him both mentally and physically, especially through the struggles that have come along with this season. However, he understood that a change was needed. "That's the way the game is, and that's the way businesses are, too," Axford said. "Someone that's got control of the group is I guess eventually going to be the one that has to pay. Even though Stan's not the one out there throwing the pitches, he's the one that's going to get the finger pointed at other than us." The team has made other changes to the bullpen, adding Jim Henderson last week and calling up Mike McClendon on the same day Lyles was let go. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke conceded that a side effect of such dismissals is providing a wake-up call to players. "If I'm an owner, if I'm a GM, I don't think I can just sit and watch what's going on," Roenicke said, "Unfortunately, it always seems that when the players aren't performing that the coaches are the ones that are let go. "But I have trouble watching it, and I'm sure you guys have trouble watching it, too. We need to do something. Stan is not at fault for these guys doing this, but he's responsible for it, [pitching coach] Rick Kranitz is responsible for it, and I'm responsible for it. I feel bad that I haven't been able to get this bullpen turned around. Rick feels bad that he hasn't been able to get it turned around and Stan felt the same way. It's all our responsibilities to turn it around, and we haven't done it." Roenicke said there could be "another move or two that we'll try." He said club officials had already discussed one player he has never seen in person. Meanwhile, Roenicke has done away with bullpen roles, saying he would rely on batter-pitcher matchups and other factors to determine which reliever appears in which inning. That means Livan Hernandez could close a game, Roenicke said, or newcomer Jim Henderson. "I think we all know coming in that this is reality -- this is a performance job, and if we can't get the players to perform and it's our job to do it, then sometimes [changes] happen," Roenicke said.
Braun out of lineup with blisters on left hand
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers played Monday without All-Star left fielder Ryan Braun, who needed the day off to receive treatment for blisters on his left hand.The issue has bothered Braun for some time, manager Ron Roenicke said, and is one reason Braun was 2-for-17 with six strikeouts in the first four games of the team's homestand. Nyjer Morgan started in left field Monday, batting seventh against the Astros. "He's got some blisters on his hand that he's been fighting with for a few days now, and doesn't seem to be getting any better," Roenicke said. "So we gave him a day. He tore it up pretty good about a week ago, and they've been trying to get it back together and get it healed up. But sometimes, especially with one-armed follow-throughs, with the deep [blisters], sometimes it's hard to get rid of them." Roenicke hoped to have Braun back in the lineup on Tuesday. In better news, third baseman Aramis Ramirez returned to the lineup Monday after being limited to a pinch-hit appearance the day before. He has been dealing with a sore left wrist.
Right-hander Shaun Marcum (elbow) will throw another bullpen session on Tuesday or Wednesday, then could throw a simulated game over the weekend in St. Louis. If he passes those tests, Marcum could head out for multiple Minor League rehabilitation starts. Manny Parra hasn't pitched for the Brewers since July 24, and manager Ron Roenicke said on Monday that's partly because of an "irritation" or "pinching" in the left-hander's shoulder. Roenicke said he didn't think Parra would need to go on the disabled list, but he also wasn't sure on the severity or what caused the injury. The Brewers released right-hander Seth McClung from the Triple-A roster Monday, a day after McClung surrendered nine runs, walked eight and surrendered a pair of grand slams to Dodgers prospect Jerry Sands in the span of four innings. The Brewers needed the rotation spot for Tyler Thornburg, who was sent down Sunday to resume a routine as a starting pitcher. McClung wrote in a text message that he was thankful for the opportunity with the Brewers and that he planned to pursue a return to the Major Leagues. "I will continue to get stronger and keep fighting," he said. Power-hitting outfield prospect Brock Kjeldgaard cleared waivers and joined Double-A Huntsville on Monday. He had been outrighted from the 40-man roster last week. So had shortstop Edwin Maysonet, who accepted his assignment to Triple-A Nashville. Outfielder Khris Davis was promoted from Huntsville to Nashville on Monday after another outfielder, Logan Schafer, was placed on the seven-day disabled list. Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash said Schafer was dealing with a sore right knee and needed some rest. Davis, a seventh-round Draft pick in 2009, had been red-hot, going 22-for-38 over his last 10 games with five home runs. He was named the Southern League's player of the week on Monday. Class A Brevard County right-hander Andy Moye was named the Florida State League's pitcher of the week after a seven-inning, one-hit win against Fort Myers.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.