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Nelson close to long-awaited rehab assignment

Right-hander has been working in extended spring training; Guerra placed on bereavement list
@AdamMcCalvy
April 22, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- Next stop for Jimmy Nelson on his long road back from shoulder surgery: Triple-A San Antonio. Brewers manager Craig Counsell received an encouraging report from Nelson’s latest outing in extended spring training on Monday. Barring an unforeseen setback in the next few days, club officials will confer

ST. LOUIS -- Next stop for Jimmy Nelson on his long road back from shoulder surgery: Triple-A San Antonio.

Brewers manager Craig Counsell received an encouraging report from Nelson’s latest outing in extended spring training on Monday. Barring an unforeseen setback in the next few days, club officials will confer to decide what’s next, and the most likely scenario has Nelson being assigned to San Antonio.

He hasn’t pitched in a regular-season game since September 2017, when he injured his shoulder diving back to first base after hitting a long single off the Wrigley Field ivy.

“Everything went great with Jimmy,” Counsell said. “It was five innings, 70-ish pitches, one hit, two walks, eight strikeouts. It was good outing. As long as we get through the next couple of days with recovery, then yes, the next step is an affiliate.”

Counsell called Monday “an important day” for the organization’s pitching, with Nelson’s outing in Arizona, Corbin Burnes scheduled to make his first start for San Antonio since a demotion, and Adrian Houser called up to pitch against the Cardinals in his first Major League start.

Guerra to miss St. Louis series
The Brewers placed reliever Junior Guerra on the bereavement list Monday while he was making the journey home to Venezuela, where his father is in poor health. He is not expected to rejoin the team until later this week in New York.

“He needed to go home, and I’m glad he’s able to go home,” Counsell said.

The Brewers recalled Jake Petricka from San Antonio to take Guerra’s spot. The team also recalled Houser to make his first Major League start on Monday and optioned left-hander Donnie Hart back to San Antonio.

Guerra has emerged as a key member of Milwaukee’s bullpen so far, helping the team get by with Corey Knebel lost to Tommy John surgery and Jeremy Jeffress still working his way back to high-leverage situations after a shoulder issue. Jeffress and others could see more prominent work this week against the Cardinals.

“A bunch of guys have stepped up when needed, and I feel good that we have a bunch of choices,” Counsell said. “I think Matt Albers has pitched really well. I do. He’s given up some runs, but I think he’s thrown the ball well. I think Jacob Barnes is throwing the ball really well. I think it’s time for [Jeffress] to move along, too, here. We’re in good shape. I’m happy with what’s going on out there.”

Last call
• Play-Doh isn’t just for kids. Second baseman Mike Moustakas was working a ball of the putty on Monday afternoon to encourage circulation to his fractured right ring finger. He took some swings in the batting cage and felt better, Counsell said, an encouraging sign that Moustakas will avoid a stint on the injured list.

• Right-hander Freddy Peralta, on the IL with a shoulder injury, threw a light bullpen from a Busch Stadium mound on Monday. His timetable for escaping the IL is unclear, but he is moving in the right direction, Counsell said.

• The first sign that Brett Lawrie had progressed to baseball activities in Phoenix came via Instagram, and a video of the former Brewers first-round Draft pick taking swings in the batting cage. GM David Stearns confirmed that Lawrie is making progress.

“That’s a nice step,” Stearns said. “So far, I’d say ‘on plan.’ Still a ways to go. It’s baseball activities, then it’s competing in a game, then it’s out to an affiliate. But we’ve crossed threshold No. 1 of getting to baseball activities.”

The plan calls for Lawrie to get to an affiliate sometime this season, Stearns said.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.