6/27/2013 2:05 A.M. ET
Hellweg joins Crew in advance of Friday debut
By Kevin Massoth / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers right-handed pitching prospect Johnny Hellweg was ready for an off-day golf outing with his Triple-A Nashville teammates on Wednesday.
Instead, Hellweg learned Tuesday that he would join the Brewers a day later to fill Alfredo Figaro's roster spot before making his Major League debut Friday in a start against the Pirates.
Hellweg was happy to lose his off-day.
"They told me I wasn't going to play golf with the team anymore because I had to go to the big leagues," said Hellweg, who learned of the promotion from his coaches after returning to Nashville from the team's four-game series in New Orleans. "It was cool. I was in front of the whole team when they told me, so everyone found out when I did.
"For me, I guess that was a feeling I've never had. It was kind of surreal. I guess the closest I've ever been to floating."
Hellweg returned home from the airport to pack, then went straight back to the airport to fly to Milwaukee on Tuesday night. He arrived at Miller Park at noon Wednesday.
The 6-foot-9, 205-pound righty will be the seventh Brewer to make his Major League debut and the 10th starting pitcher used by the team this season.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke got a good look at Hellweg in Spring Training and said he has been following the right-hander's progress in Nashville.
"He was going really well for us in the Spring," Roenicke said. "He was throwing strikes, he was working fast. Everything was going as you would hope a guy who's got that kind of stuff would go.
"The first couple years the guy's in the Major Leagues, the mental part is probably a lot more difficult than what they do physically. He's got stuff, there's no question about it. Hopefully the nerves will be intact and he'll do all right. But I sure liked what I saw in Spring Training."
Hellweg got off to a rough start with Nashville this year, but is 6-0 with a 1.64 ERA in his last seven starts. He pitched 44 innings in the span and allowed eight earned runs, five coming in a no-decision on May 21.
Roenicke noted the right-hander's better control of late as a reason for the turnaround. Hellweg walked three or less batters in five of his last six starts, while he walked four or more in six of his first eight.
If he throws strikes at the big league level, Roenicke would like to see Hellweg stick around.
"I'd love it. Some of it is a little bit performance, little bit is with injuries," Roenicke said. "But I'd love for one of the young guys to just step up and really pitch for us like they did last year when they came up. I'm hoping for good things."
With Weeks heating up, Brewers option Gennett
MILWAUKEE -- Scooter Gennett was about 2 feet short of a pinch-hit, walk-off home run in the ninth inning of the Brewers' 5-4 loss to the Cubs on Wednesday night at Miller Park.
Turns out he that will be his last Major League memory for the time being, as the team optioned him to Triple-A Nashville after the game and purchased the contract of first baseman/outfielder Sean Halton.
"With Rickie [Weeks] swinging the bat as good as he is, we'd like to play Rick more," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We really like Scooter, we don't want him sitting here. He did a nice job for us. Played good defense, almost had a big hit for us here today."
Gennett was called up from Nashville on June 3 and saw plenty of time with Weeks' early season struggles. He appeared in 17 games, including 10 starts at second base. The 5-foot-10 left-handed hitter hit .214 with a home run and five RBIs.
But once Gennett joined the team, Weeks turned a corner and is in the midst of a hot month, hitting .435 with five home runs and nine RBIs in June as he rides a 10-game hitting streak.
"It's unfortunate, but I'll take the opportunity to get better and be more prepared when I come back," Gennett said. "I take a lot from the experience, being able to learn from guys that have been playing the game for a while. Just try to take as much as I can back and incorporate it into my game and hopefully get better."
Cubs manager Dale Sveum had good things to say about Gennett after watching his ninth-inning fly ball come up just short of the right-field wall.
"When that ball left the bat, I ain't lying, I thought it was a homer, especially in this ballpark," Sveum said. "I like that kid. He's going to be a good Major League player. He came over to big league camp when I was over there. I've seen him hit some bombs. That little guy can hit the ball a long way."
Roenicke said Halton can play first base, left field and even a bit of right field. The move also gives the Brewers a right-handed outfield bat.
Halton hit .288 with nine home runs and 35 RBIs in 66 games for Nashville this year.
Gomez takes swings, still targets return for finale
MILWAUKEE -- Carlos Gomez took dry swings in the batting cage Wednesday and said he was available off the bench if needed against the Cubs at Miller Park.
Gomez, who sprained his left shoulder while making a catch Sunday against the Braves, took 30 to 40 swings, and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said the center fielder might take batting practice Thursday.
"A little sore," Gomez said after swinging a bat for the first time since his injury. "But it's normal, like always. I'm going to be available for today, too. If it's necessary, they're going to use me. If it's not, they're going to leave me off."
Roenicke said he feels fortunate that Gomez is on the verge of returning after seeing his awkward collision with the center-field wall on Sunday.
"I didn't have very good thoughts as I was running out to center [to check on Gomez]," Roenicke said. "Any time you're worried about a guy -- losing him for a long time -- and he's out three, four days, you're pretty fortunate."
Gomez sounded optimistic that he would be able to return Thursday in the series finale against the Cubs, but Roenicke said they have to wait and see how he feels tomorrow.
Injured Estrada, Figaro head to Arizona to rehab
MILWAUKEE -- After suffering a setback in a rehab start Sunday, Marco Estrada will head to Arizona to rehab a hamstring injury that has kept him on the disabled list since June 5. Alfredo Figaro will join Estrada to rehab the right oblique strain he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with on Tuesday.
Estrada left a start against the A's on June 4 and was placed on the 15-day disabled list the next day with a strained left hamstring. He got hit hard in his Sunday rehab start with Class A Wisconsin and felt tightness in his hamstring, forcing the Brewers to freeze his rehab assignment.
Estrada said he will throw a bullpen session in the "next couple days" and hopes to start a game for the Brewers' Arizona League rookie team if things progress well. The right-hander said a realistic goal would be a return before the All-Star break in mid-July.
"I really hope I won't need that much time, but I don't know, who knows," Estrada said. "Maybe by the time the team gets back from this road trip I'd like to be somewhat ready. I don't want to wait any longer than the All-Star break.
"Obviously I'll do it smart, not try and go out and think, 'I can get through this.' I'm going to try and feel everything, and if it hurts, it hurts. I'm just going to have to stop."
Estrada said he will sit down and get back up between a certain number of pitches to mimic a game scenario in his bullpen session. He felt that sitting between innings may have contributed to his hamstring tightening up on Sunday.
"If I can get past 40, 50 pitches, then hopefully they'll give me another start and see how that goes," Estrada said. "Oh yeah, very, very [frustrating]. I'm not sure how soon I would've been ready if I didn't go out and pitch, but it's basically the only way I would've found out."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke hopes to see Estrada back on the mound soon to help a staff that has seen nine different pitchers start a game this season. The 10th will come Friday, when Johnny Hellweg makes his Major League debut in Pittsburgh.
"Get him to Arizona, get some pitching coach's eyes on him when he's working out," Roenicke said. "Make sure we're done with the injury to the leg, and then see him up on the mound. It's easy to get him in a ballgame there. Get him a couple innings and control him a little bit better."
Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.