8/4/2013 3:05 P.M. ET
Roenicke faces tough roster decisions
By Kevin Massoth / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- There have been a lot of moving parts on the Brewers' roster this season, and things are not going to get easier for manager Ron Roenicke.
With starters Yovani Gallardo and Tom Gorzelanny going down with injuries this week, the Brewers have a few roster decisions to make in the near future. The first question is who will get Gorzelanny's next scheduled start on Wednesday, but the real headache comes with the roster moves linked to anticipated returns from Aramis Ramirez and Marco Estrada.
"There's a lot that's going to happen in the next couple weeks with some pitchers coming back, if Aramis comes back, and trying to figure out the rotation," Roenicke said. "It's going to be difficult, I think, once everybody's back healthy."
With Gorzelanny doubtful to be ready for Wednesday, Roenicke pointed to a call-up from Triple-A Nashville as the likely solution. The two obvious choices, Johnny Hellweg and Jimmy Nelson, are starting for Nasvhille on Sunday and Monday, respectively. Estrada is also set to make what could be his final rehab start for the Sounds on Thursday.
Roenicke leaned toward a move with Nashville as opposed to pulling somebody out of the bullpen. In that scenario, the Brewers would drop a position player and move to a four-man bench.
"With the pitchers that are coming back -- if Gorzelanny can't go Wednesday -- I think we're going to have to have a pitcher [called up]," Roenicke said. "The different scenarios that we've talked about, I think that's probably a good chance that would happen."
Roenicke said it was not likely the Brewers would forego Estrada's Nashville start on Thursday to have him take Gorzelanny's start Wednesday, but he did not put it out of the question.
"I don't think we're thinking that right now, maybe things change," he said. "[Brewers GM] Doug [Melvin] was going to think about it after we talked yesterday and get back to me with what he thought would be best."
A DL stint is a possibility for Gorzelanny if he is unable to make his next scheduled start after Wednesday. Roenicke said the left-hander felt a little bit better Sunday, but he still had swelling in his left elbow two days after getting hit by a Jayson Werth line drive.
"If we have to worry about his next start, then we need to do something," Roenicke said.
Lineup shuffled amid offensive struggles
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers started their three-game series against the Nationals with one run on nine hits in their first two games, and for Sunday's finale, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke mixed up the lineup.
Logan Schafer, playing in right field for Norichika Aoki, was penciled into the leadoff spot, followed by Jean Segura and Jonathan Lucroy. Carlos Gomez moved up a spot to fourth, Caleb Gindl hit fifth and Juan Francisco sixth. The final three spots belonged to Jeff Bianchi, Scooter Gennett -- playing for Rickie Weeks at second base -- and pitcher Kyle Lohse.
A new lineup is nothing new for Roenicke as Sunday's card was the 81st different lineup in 111 games this season.
"Every day I write up this lineup and it's difficult to put people in places where they're going to be for a few days," Roenicke said. "It's always game to game."
Roenicke said earlier in the week he will base playing time at second base on pitching matchups between Weeks and Gennett. He also mentioned earlier this season that he likes to give Aoki days off when he is not swinging the bat well. Aoki is in a 2-for-21 skid.
With Aoki's recent struggles in the two-spot and Segura's struggles hitting third, Roenicke would not say who will be in the leadoff spot when Weeks returns to the lineup.
"I'd rather not say," Roenicke said. "[Weeks] has swung the bat well. He's doing his job in the leadoff spot. But Nori now all of a sudden isn't swinging the bat as well. I don't know if that's because he's going through one of those things, or if he actually performs better leading off. And Siggie, since I've had him third, hasn't been hitting as well as he was at second.
"You don't know if it's just slumps, you don't know if it's mentally being in a spot in the lineup where they're not comfortable. That's what we've been trying to figure out. You hope those things don't make a difference, but sometimes they do."
The Brewers' offense had scored just two runs in their previous three games entering Sunday, but Roenicke pointed to the opposing pitching -- as well as missing Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez in the heart of their order -- as a reason for the lack of production.
"[Washington's Jordan] Zimmermann I thought was really good [Friday]," Roenicke said. "[Cubs starter Edwin] Jackson threw the ball well [Wednesday], but I've seen him throw better. [Washington's Dan] Haren, he's a different type of pitcher because of all the cutters he throws. He threw better than I've seen him, some outings that he's thrown.
"It may be a little of both. We're not swinging that well and these guys are doing OK."
Aramis could return and DH on upcoming road trip
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said injured third baseman Aramis Ramirez may return to Milwaukee's lineup during the team's upcoming 11-day, 10-game road trip.
Ramirez was placed on the 15-day disabled list before the All-Star break on July 7 with patellar tendinitis and has battled knee injuries all season.
"If everything goes well, I think he would like to come back sometime for this trip," Roenicke said. "Really haven't talked to the trainers about exact days, but I think in his mind, that's what his goal is."
Roenicke said using Ramirez as the designated hitter on American League stops in Seattle and Texas could help the third baseman ease into playing time.
"Thinking about Aramis, if he's ready by then, on how to go about it, the DH certainly could help," said Roenicke, who noted there has been no talk of surgery. "If he's DH'ing, I think he could DH and hit four times."
Ramirez was hitting .271 with five home runs, 11 doubles and 36 RBIs in 181 at-bats before landing on the DL. Despite his low power numbers, the Brewers have missed Ramirez's presence in the middle of their lineup, especially with the loss of Ryan Braun.
"Not that the progress is huge, but it seems like when he does more activities he's able to tolerate things better," Roenicke said.
Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.