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08/13/09 2:24 PM ET

Suppan, Bush begin road back to club

Suppan to start Minors game; Bush to pitch simulated game

MILWAUKEE -- Saturday will be a key day for the Brewers as they assess the stability of their pitching rotation for the rest of the season.

The team's two injured starters will take their next step on their road to recovery. Jeff Suppan, on the disabled list since July 30, will make a rehab start for Class A Appleton on Saturday, while Dave Bush, out since June 23, will throw a simulated game Saturday afternoon at Miller Park.

"They're neck and neck coming around the home stretch," Brewers manager Ken Macha said.

On Wednesday, Macha said the club's hope is to get the two starters by Sept. 1. Bush has missed 10 weeks due to a micro tear in his right triceps muscle, while Suppan has been gone for two weeks with a left oblique strain.

Bush threw about 20 pitches -- all fastballs -- off the mound before Thursday's game and said he felt comfortable. He said he opted to throw a simulated game before making another rehab start to avoid another setback like the one he suffered in his July 15 outing for Double-A Huntsville.

"They gave me the option to do it in a rehab assignment, but I'd rather do it in a slightly controlled situation and I can adjust a little bit and take a break for a second," Bush said. "It's not like I have to get three outs then sit down. I can control it a little bit better and I think I'm ready for that situation. I've felt good in the bullpen the past couple times and I'm ready to test it out and see where I am."

Bush said depending on the results of the simulated game, he could either make a rehab start and come back to the rotation, or come back and work out of the bullpen in a piggyback scenario. Macha, however, said he'd rather see Bush make a rehab start and come straight back to the rotation.

Macha said the returns of Suppan and Bush would send Carlos Villanueva back to the bullpen, giving it a much-needed arm. The skipper also said with the struggles of left-handed specialist Mitch Stetter, Villanueva's changeup would make him an option to face left-handed batters in some situations.

In other injury news, right-handed reliever Seth McClung, out since July 25 with a strained right elbow, played catch for the second time on Thursday and came away with positive results.

"The first one was on Tuesday, and it wasn't very encouraging," McClung said. "But [Thursday], I played catch and it was very encouraging."

McClung said he's focused on returning before the end of the season, even if the Brewers continue to sputter in the standings.

"There's no other thought in my mind," McClung said. "Whether we're 15 games up for 47 games down, I want to come back and be part of this team, wearing cleats. I don't like wearing tennis shoes on the field."

Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.