5/23/2014 11:12 P.M. ET
Gomez hopes consistency returns with health
By Christina De Nicola / Special to MLB.com
MIAMI -- Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez has sought consistency upon his return to the lineup, but that has proved to be a challenge over the past seven days.
"The last week I was out a couple games, suspended for three, and I didn't play for another three with back spasms," Gomez said. "Now I start feeling better, and I think I'm going to have better results. Find a better position to help my team."
On the Brewers' road stretch, Gomez is 5-for-13 (.385) with a homer and two RBIs. Milwaukee, however, has dropped five of its past six games, and the offense has struggled to produce.
Manager Ron Roenicke inserted Gomez into the cleanup spot Friday for the first time this season because Ryan Braun was not in the lineup. Should Braun return Saturday, Gomez would slot back at leadoff.
Roenicke was reluctant to put Gomez fourth because the manager did not want him to think he needed to swing for power in the middle of the order.
In 85 career plate appearances as the fourth batter entering Friday, Gomez was 15-for-73 (.205) with 18 runs, two doubles, three home runs, nine RBIs, 10 walks and 24 strikeouts.
"He's better, especially with him he's so violent in his actions that it makes a difference the more he's out there," Roenicke said of Gomez's health.
Gomez, who entered Friday having started 42 of 48 games, said it would not take much to get him back in playing mode after a day off.
"Not after you have a Cuban coffee," Gomez said, joking.
Nelson to start vs. Marlins in place of Gallardo
MIAMI -- If Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo had his way, he would have made his scheduled start on Sunday afternoon at Marlins Park.
But manager Ron Roenicke leant a different way, saying after Friday night's 9-5 victory that righty Jimmy Nelson would face the Marlins in the series finale.
Nelson was already en route to Miami. He will work out with the club but cannot be in uniform or sit on the bench for Saturday's game. The move will not become official until a corresponding decision is made to make room on the roster.
The 24-year-old Nelson will make his 2014 debut after going 5-1 with a 1.71 ERA in nine starts for Triple-A Nashville. He posted a 0.90 ERA in four games (one start) over 10 innings as a September callup last season.
Gallardo, who threw off flat ground Friday afternoon after missing a bullpen on Thursday, sustained a sprained left ankle on Tuesday in his previous start.
"I know myself pretty well that it's not bad," Gallardo said before the decision was made. "It's nothing that's going to alter some of the things I do on the mound or stuff like that. I'm satisfied with the flat ground I threw today. There's a lot more things that go into it than just standing on the mound, but I think jogging, running. It's a little stiff, but nothing that I can't get through."
Roenicke had acknowledged that Gallardo's session went well, but he felt uneasy about the possibility of a Marlins player bunting the ball early in the game. Gallardo did not field on Friday and was not shagging in the outfield during batting practice.
"There's still reasons why we're a little bit concerned with having something controlled like a bullpen and being in a game where they can bunt on him, he's got to cover first, he's going to have ground balls hit right back at him, he's got to run the bases," Roenicke said.
"We're in trouble getting through that game and the next day and the day after. That's probably the biggest concern. I think he's at a point where I'm not so worried about his arm as much. I think he'll land well with the ankle and he won't alter how he's pitching according to how his bullpen went today, but it's the other stuff not being able to complete in a game. That has me concerned."
Braun out of lineup, with injury likely to linger
MIAMI -- Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun sat out Friday's series opener against the Marlins with tightness in his right side, a nagging injury that first surfaced in late April.
Braun left after the fourth inning of Thursday night's game against the Braves. Elian Herrera pinch-hit for him in the top of the fifth and played right field. Braun said there was not a specific instance in which he felt the discomfort, and he hoped to be back Saturday after some treatment.
The 30-year-old came off the disabled list on May 13 after missing 14 games because of a right ribcage strain on April 26.
"It's the same thing I had, just irritated it, aggravated it a little bit," Braun said. "Whenever you deal with an injury over the course of the season it's difficult to have it completely recovered over a point in the year because we don't have the luxury of downtime.
"It's important to play as often as possible and get back as quickly as possible. It makes it challenging because you rarely get back to the point where you're 100 percent healthy. I think I'm optimistic that we'll eventually get it to go away, but most things seem to nag a little bit."
Since his return, Braun was hitting .212 (7-for-33) in nine games. In a four-game set in Atlanta, he went 2-for-15 with a double, a solo home run and two strikeouts.
"He's taking weirder swings than I've seen him take," manager Ron Roenicke said. "If he's taking bad swings, something's not all right."
Braun said that while he could play through the injury, there was a concern he could aggravate it. He was available to pinch-hit on Friday.
When asked if the injury had him worried, Roenicke said yes, particularly considering how it could affect the lineup and bench. Khris Davis started in Braun's place in left and seventh in the order.
"We can't have too many maybes," Roenicke said. "Those are difficult because you get in a game, you make a substitution, now you've got another guy out there you probably don't want third in your lineup, and it makes a difference."
• Roenicke wanted to clear the air about the bullpen mixup in the seventh inning of Thursday night's 5-4 loss to the Braves. When Roenicke tried to bring in lefty Will Smith, Zach Duke came running in from the bullpen.
Roenicke said catcher Martin Maldonado "did not mess anything up. He knew he had to hurry down there to warm up the second pitcher who we wanted, but he wasn't relaying a message from me."
The dugout had already sent a call to the bullpen about what pitchers they wanted warming up. Roenicke said the dugout wasn't watching the monitor that shows action in the bullpen.
"Not too often do you look at the monitors," Roenicke said. "The most part you look at the monitors is for the other team who's up in their bullpen and what's going on. Rarely do we look at our own guys, because we figure it's already handled."
Christina De Nicola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.