Notes: No rush for Braun
Brewers have no immediate plans to call up top prospect
LOS ANGELES -- Brewers general manager Doug Melvin and assistant GM Gord Ash were in the stands at Greer Stadium this week, and saw top prospect Ryan Braun get his groove back. But at least for now, Melvin continued to insist there are no immediate plans to bring Braun up to the big leagues.
Craig Counsell and Tony Graffanino have manned third base for the Brewers this season. Entering play Wednesday, Milwaukee ranked 27th of the 30 Major League teams with a .600 OPS from the hot corner and tied for 25th with 14 RBIs. Counsell's RBI on Monday night was the first by a Brewers third baseman since May 1.
Braun, 23, who recently returned from a wrist injury, batted leadoff each of the last two games and went 5-for-7 with two home runs and four RBIs. He leads the team with 10 home runs this season in 33 games.
"But it's not just as simple as bringing a guy in," Melvin said. "Who do you get rid of? And two weeks from now, if it doesn't work out, what do you do then? This isn't rotisserie."
Melvin pointed out that the Brewers are getting more out of the shortstop position than most clubs, and could live with less-than-average offense from third base. Shortstop J.J. Hardy was off Wednesday, but was tied with teammate Prince Fielder for the National League with 14 home runs, and tied with the Astros' Carlos Lee for the NL lead with 41 RBIs.
Asked if it would take an injury to a Brewers infielder to open a spot for Braun, Melvin said, "not necessarily." The GM figured that his appearance in Nashville would cause a minor stir, but said the stop had more to do with the schedule than with Braun.
"I wanted to see the Minor League clubs now because the draft is coming up in two weeks and after that I want to take some trips with the big club," said Melvin, who will be with the Brewers in Texas and Detroit next month.
The team's top pitching prospect also put on a show. Right-hander Yovani Gallardo earned his Pacific Coast League-leading sixth victory of the season for Nashville on Tuesday, striking out 10 in six-plus innings and lowering his league-leading ERA to 2.14. Gallardo leads the Minor Leagues with 76 strikeouts.
"It's nice to see those guys are available down there," Melvin said.
The Brewers' brass is in the middle of a tour of Minor League affiliates. Ash was at Double-A Huntsville earlier in the week, and Melvin traveled Wednesday evening to central Florida, where he will spend three days with Class A Brevard County. Melvin said he was planning a trip to Class A West Virginia over the Major League All-Star break in July.
"Part of it is just talking to the manager and coaches and seeing the players," Melvin said. "You let them know you care and you have interest."
Sheets update: Ben Sheets received treatment Wednesday for the blister on his middle finger that forced him out of Tuesday's loss to L.A., but both the pitcher and manager Ned Yost said that Sheets' next start remained in limbo.
Sheets is penciled in to pitch Monday against the Braves in Milwaukee, but an off-day Thursday would allow Yost to use Chris Capuano in that Monday game on regular rest to give Sheets an extra day off.
"Four days from now, we'll stop and look at it and see where we're at, and then we'll make an adjustment," Yost said.
Brewers trainers applied a substance called "Stan's Rodeo Rub" to the offending finger. The Royals used the same stuff last September to treat left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, whose problems with blisters began before he was traded by the Brewers to Kansas City. According to an MLB.com report at the time, it is a substance similar to pine tar that was developed by Dodgers trainer Stan Johnson, a former rodeo rider.
Break for Hardy: Yost gave Hardy a day off for just the second time this season. Counsell started at shortstop.
"I think you'd better be smart about giving these kids their days off now, because it can get to a point where it's too late," said Yost, who figured Thursday's off-day would give Hardy a 48-hour break.
Said Hardy: "I tried to talk him out of it."
Hardy was 1-for-9 in the first two games of the series with four strikeouts. He hit a long fly ball that hooked inches foul in his first at-bat on Monday and went on to strike out three times in that game.
Hardy has received treatment for a stiff back at times this season, but said that had nothing to do with Wednesday's day off.
"I actually feel more flexible than I've ever been, because of all the stretching," Hardy said.
Struggling veteran: Yost said that Graffanino's trouble is with his timing, and not his swing. The veteran entered Wednesday's start batting .192 with a .261 on-base percentage.
"He's a guy that always holds himself to a high standard," Yost said. "Him and Counsell both -- they both play with an edge. When they're struggling, they're not going to sit back and take it."
Minors trade: Sounds reliever Alec Zumwalt surrendered a game-winning, three-run home run in the ninth inning Wednesday and was traded after the game to Oakland for cash considerations. Zumwalt, who posted a 4.82 ERA in 13 relief outings with Nashville in 2007 after leading the club with 15 saves in 2006, is expected to report to Triple-A Sacramento.
On deck: The Brewers return to action Friday night in San Diego. Dave Bush will face Padres right-hander Greg Maddux in the opener of the three-game series at 9:05 p.m. CT. Maddux is 13-6 with a 2.66 ERA in 24 career starts against the Brewers, but went 1-3 with a 5.55 ERA against them while pitching for the Cubs last season.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.