6/9/2013 5:41 P.M. ET
Brewers hope MLB stint boosts Thornburg
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers hope that a more confident Tyler Thornburg returned to Triple-A Nashville on Sunday.
The team optioned its top prospect back to the Minors on Saturday night to create roster space for closer Jim Henderson's return from the DL. The move came mere moments after his Brewers teammates doused Thornburg in cold water and baby power, the traditional celebration these days for a player's first Major League victory.
Thornburg was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two big league relief appearances this season, but returned to Nashville with a 0-7, 6.75 mark waiting for him there.
"I know they say the numbers aren't the true picture of what he's doing there, but you still look at that as a player," Roenicke said. "You're still seeing a six-point-whatever ERA. So coming up here and pitching well, especially yesterday, the two innings and getting out of a jam, I can't imagine him not going back and having confidence in what he's doing. He had a great curveball yesterday, his fastball was explosive. I look up there and I see 95 [mph]. And we're not even counting the change-up.
"How can he not go down and pitch well in Triple-A?"
Thornburg saw the roster move coming.
"Things haven't been going my way down there [in the Minors]," he said. "The soft-hit balls are hits, the hard-hit balls are hits. I was fortunate to come up here and have things go my way a little bit. I think for the most part, I was happy to get in a game that was close up here, where you can get a little adrenaline pumping and get locked in."
Sore thumb may keep Braun out of opener vs. Miami
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers removed left fielder Ryan Braun in the third inning of Sunday's 9-1 win over the Phillies because of soreness in his right thumb, the same ailment of which manager Ron Roenicke spoke with some urgency only a few hours earlier.
The Brewers were leading the Phillies, 4-0, when Braun abruptly exited. He struck out in the first inning and was replaced by Logan Schafer when that spot in the lineup came around again in the bottom of the third.
Braun said he could miss Monday's series opener against the Marlins in Miami.
"From the very beginning, I should have taken more time off and gotten it right," Braun said after the game. "But I just continued to try to fight through it, play through it. It's at the point where it doesn't feel very good."
Roenicke said he would talk to Brewers GM Doug Melvin about Braun's situation during the team's flight to Miami.
"We've got to figure out what to do there," Roenicke said. "We've got to start going in the right direction with him, and sometimes it's not. I'm hoping we don't have to [place him on the disabled list], but we start making gains and he says, 'Yeah, I feel really good today,' and then all of a sudden it's a bad day and a setback.
"We keep going with this back and forth. He's out there playing, hitting third for us, and I expect the Braun that I've seen for the last two years, and he's not the same. He's still getting hits, he's still helping us win games, but he's not that guy that can carry a team like I know he can."
Roenicke said he had a plan for Braun on the upcoming, three-city road trip, which includes a pair of off-days between stops.
"Every time I swing the bat I have the ability to make it worse," Braun said. "We've done all kinds of different things as far as trying to figure out padding in the glove or on the bat. Maybe we'll figure out something that works."
Braun, who has contributed at least 30 homers and 110 RBIs in Roenicke's first two full seasons as Brewers manager, entered Sunday hitting .305 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs, a pace for 24 homers and 94 RBIs. He has been adjusting his swing to compensate for pain in his thumb, and was homerless in his previous 64 plate appearances.
That Braun's power has been sapped was evident by the Brewers' first-inning strategy on Sunday. After Norichika Aoki took a walk from Phillies starter Jonathan Pettibone, Jean Segura popped out a bunt attempt and Aoki was caught trying to steal second base. Braun then struck out on a foul tip.
Henderson active; K-Rod to remain interim closer
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers activated closer Jim Henderson from the disabled list Sunday morning, but did not designate him the closer. Instead that role will stay for the time being with Francisco Rodriguez, who entered the day two saves shy of 300 for his career.
But the decision was not just about milestones, manager Ron Roenicke said.
"I talked to Jimmy when he came back," Roenicke said, "about maybe getting an inning in somewhere else, for two reasons. One, he could be a little rusty. And the other is, I know he threw an inning in Appleton [home of the Brewers' Class A club], but sometimes it's a little different intensity when you're here and you've got a closing situation. I don't want him to [get hurt] again."
At the same time, "Frankie is throwing the ball well enough that I have no problem with him being our closer right now. I don't want to do this just because of numbers. I want to do this because he's throwing well enough to where we're good having him [close games] for a while and maybe Henderson is in the eighth a couple of times."
Rodriguez was appreciative of the opportunity. He logged 23 saves for the Mets during the first half of the 2011 season, leaving him nine shy of 300 for his career, and he had a partial no-trade clause, or at least he thought. Instead, that paperwork was not filed properly, and the Mets were able to surprise Rodriguez with a trade to Milwaukee on the night of the All-Star Game. Rodriguez would spend the second half of 2011, and most of 2012, as a setup man to Brewers closer John Axford.
He was given an opportunity to close games last July, but blew a pair of saves in Philadelphia and was replaced, then jettisoned via free agency. But the Brewers re-signed him in April to a Minor League contract, promoted him to the Majors in May and, with Rodriguez pitching well, presented him with another opportunity last month when Henderson hit the DL with a strained hamstring.
Saturday marked his fourth successful save in as many chances since Henderson went down. He is third among active pitchers in saves and is bidding to be the 25th Major Leaguer to reach the 300 plateau.
"This is an opportunity I've waited for a long time," Rodriguez said. "Definitely, I do not want to let them down. I want to keep with what I'm doing, stay aggressive against the hitters and put them away as quickly as possible.
"I'm trying to not be too fine. I'm attacking them, pretty much, and putting them away. That's the mentality I have since I got here -- attack and put them away, nothing else."
Brewers, top Draft picks appear close
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers reportedly had an agreement in place Sunday with the second of their two Day 1 selections in the First-Year Player Draft, Florida prep infielder Tucker Neuhaus, and were bringing top pick Devin Williams to Milwaukee for a physical exam.
Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid followed policy by declining to comment on signings before they were official.
"I will say this," Seid said. "We're definitely very confident about signing most of our guys in the top 10 rounds."
Patrick Ebert of Perfect Game USA, which organizes showcases for Draft prospects, reported that Neuhaus had a deal in place for a $771,000 bonus. That is exactly Major League Baseball's slot recommendation for the 72nd overall pick.
Meanwhile, Williams, a right-handed pitcher who went to the Brewers in the second round at No. 54 overall, posted Sunday on Twitter that he was, "Heading to Milwaukee Wednesday then I'm off to AZ Thursday!"
Milwaukee would be the site of a physical, and the Brewers' summer rookie league team is in Phoenix. But Williams' agent, Jason Wood, said no agreement was in place as of midday Sunday.
MLB assigned a value of $1,017,300 for the 54th overall pick, but Wood said the Brewers and other clubs were aware going into the Draft that Williams sought a bonus above that figure. Williams, of Hazelwood West High School near St. Louis, has said he hoped to be a first-rounder.
"They know exactly what Devin wants and I'm very confident that something will get done," Wood said.
The Brewers have a $3,944,600 bonus pool allotted for their top 10 selections. If the team exceeds its amount, it faces financial penalties or the loss of future picks.
Baseball reunites Lucroy brothers
MILWAUKEE -- David Lucroy is a right-handed pitcher for the Lakeshore Chinooks, a collegiate wood bat club that plays home games just north of Milwaukee. Most players on that team are placed with host families, but not Lucroy. He has real family in town.
His older brother is Jonathan Lucroy, the Brewers' starting catcher. Jonathan and wife Sarah already have a young daughter, and now they joke about raising two kids.
"He's actually calling me and my wife, 'dad' and 'mom,'" Jonathan Lucroy said.
It has been a while since the Lucroy boys -- Jonathan turns 27 on Thursday and David will be 21 in September -- were under the same roof. Jonathan has mostly been away since the Brewers made him their third-round Draft pick in 2007. They also drafted David in the 29th round last year, but he opted for college at East Carolina instead.
"Usually, it's only Christmas and other holidays," Jonathan Lucroy said. "I never get to see him during the holidays because he's always playing. I'm pretty happy that he's here and we can spend a little time. Really, what's most important is that he gets to hang out with his niece."
• Right-hander Hiram Burgos was supposed to make a rehabilitation start for Class A Wisconsin on Monday, but was scratched after feeling tightness in his shoulder while playing catch on Sunday morning. Assistant general manager Gord Ash said the Brewers planned to wait several days as a precaution.
Once he is cleared to pitch, Burgos, who has been on the DL since the third week of May with a shoulder impingement, expects to make "two, maybe three" rehab starts before he is activated.
• Left-hander Chris Narveson, on the DL with a sprained middle finger, made his third rehab start for Triple-A Nashville on Sunday and took a no-decision after allowing three runs on five hits over 4 1/3 innings. He struck out four, did not walk a batter and threw 63 pitches. Narveson is expected to make one more Triple-A start before the Brewers consider bringing him back to the big leagues.