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06/19/08 2:30 PM ET

Tavarez designated for assignment

Brewers want to hold onto reliever if he clears waivers

MILWAUKEE -- Julian Tavarez was the odd man out when the Brewers activated reliever David Riske from the disabled list on Thursday.

Three weeks after he signed to plug a hole in the Brewers' injury-plagued bullpen, the team designated Tavarez for assignment. Club officials are hoping he clears waivers and accepts an assignment to Triple-A Nashville, where Tavarez would be used as a starter.

"No. 1 is he needs to pitch," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "It's hard to get him innings here, so our thought process was to see if we could get him through waivers, send him to Nashville as a starter and let him rack up innings. There's still a lot of season left. It's always important to have as many experienced guys as you can late in the year."

The Brewers learned that lesson early in the year. They released starter Claudio Vargas in Spring Training and then lost Chris Capuano to a season-ending elbow injury. Once the season began, the shortages shifted to the bullpen, where Derrick Turnbow was jettisoned because of wildness and Riske and Eric Gagne went on the disabled list with arm injuries. The most costly injury of all happened May 1, when starter Yovani Gallardo suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Tavarez was signed to fill some of those gaps, but he was "rusty" in most of his seven appearances out of the Brewers' bullpen, going 0-1 with an 8.59 ERA. He surrendered 13 hits and five walks in 7 1/3 innings.

The Brewers worried from the start that Tavarez might not be sharp. When he was formally signed May 27 after being designated for assignment by the Red Sox, he had pitched just twice since April 24 and not at all since May 11.

If he eventually returns to Milwaukee, Tavarez could be an option for either the starting rotation or the bullpen, Yost said. Tavarez will be on waivers through Monday.

"His 'stuff' is still there," said bullpen coach Bill Castro, one of the men who recommended the Brewers sign Tavarez. "It would be good for him if somebody [claims Tavarez off waivers] to keep him in the big leagues, but it would also be good for him to stay with us and go to Triple-A. He hasn't pitched enough this year. He's still got plenty left."

In parting with Tavarez, the Brewers decided to keep two pitchers who could have been optioned back to the Minors. Long reliever Mark DiFelice (4.35 ERA and no walks in eight games) and middle man Tim Dillard (1.17 ERA in seven games) remained in the bullpen, though their statuses could be revisited around June 27, when Gagne expects to rejoin the team after a rehabilitation assignment.

Tavarez will continue working out with the Brewers through the weekend.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.