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WAUKEE -- Sometimes good things spring from bad situations, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin postulated this weekend. He pointed to the injuries that produced opportunities for pitcher Mike Fiers and catcher Martin Maldonado, unproven prospects who have played themselves into the team's plan for the future. And Jim Henderson, the 29-year-old brought in to help a foundering bullpen after toiling for 10 seasons in the Minors.
Another example may have arrived on Sunday. While Zack Greinke made his Angels debut 2,000 miles away, two days after the Brewers traded him away because they couldn't contend this season and couldn't convince Greinke to forgo free agency, newly promoted prospect Mark Rogers was putting the finishing touches on what should have been his first Major League win.
Of course, it did not end that way. The Brewers' bullpen blew a pair of late leads, leaving the team with an 11-10 loss in 11 innings to the Nationals and Rogers with a tough-luck no-decision.
"That's baseball," Rogers said. "If it was predictable, then it wouldn't be as fun to watch."
The late letdowns spoiled what had been an uplifting afternoon for 44,663 fans, who packed the seats at Miller Park for Bob Uecker bobblehead day and got a glimpse of the next couple of years in Rogers, a 26-year-old former first-round Draft pick who has had more surgeries (four, if you count both wrists as separate procedures) than starts in the Major Leagues (three). Before taking Greinke's spot in the rotation on Sunday, Rogers had not pitched in the Majors since a brief late-season stint in 2010.
Rogers lost 2011 to an early-season right shoulder issue and a midseason suspension, during which he underwent surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome in his wrists. If Sunday's return was any indication, Rogers is back.
He surrendered a home run to the first batter he faced (Steve Lombardozzi) and back-to-back doubles for another run in the sixth but touched 98 mph on his 11th pitch and again on his 89th, and held Washington to two runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings, with one walk, one hit batsman and seven strikeouts.
Rogers was pitching at 94-98 mph throughout his sixth inning of work.
"Obviously, it didn't start off the way I wanted it to, but I feel like that got me right into the game," Rogers said. "[Catcher Jonathan Lucroy] got me back on track a couple of times. Overall, I was just trying to continue to do what I've done all year -- execute pitches and have confidence in my stuff."
For a nice touch, Henderson, a fellow Triple-A callup, bailed Rogers out of a jam in the sixth inning with two on, two outs and the Brewers clinging to a 3-2 lead.
Manager Ron Roenicke made it clear that Rogers will start again, probably on Saturday in St. Louis.
Rogers is one of the young pitchers who will get a look over the season's remaining two months as the Brewers begin planning for 2013. Greinke is already gone, Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf will be free agents and Chris Narveson is coming back from right shoulder surgery. That means of the Brewers' five-man Opening Day rotation, only Yovani Gallardo is a lock to return.
Fiers has pitched himself into the mix, and right-hander Marco Estrada is also an option. The Brewers sent 23-year-old righty Tyler Thornburg back to Triple-A on Sunday night so he could get back into a starting routine, and he will be in the discussion as well. So will Wily Peralta -- the Brewers' top pitching prospect, according to MLB.com -- whom Roenicke said on Sunday morning he would like to see in person before the Major League season is over.
"We can't get this thing going," Roenicke said. "To lose Zack is going to hurt you any time, but we need to think about who we can see this season and what's going to happen for the next couple of years."
Said Rogers: "That was one outing, but I can build off that outing. The goal is to have continued success and stay here."