Lohse to remain in bullpen role with Brewers
Counsell says veteran righty able to pitch multiple innings in relief
MILWAUKEE -- Unable thus far to find a taker for Kyle Lohse, the Brewers say they plan to continue using the veteran right-hander as a multi-inning reliever.
Lohse, earning $11 million in the final season of a three-year contract, was 5-13 with a 6.31 ERA as a starting pitcher before the Brewers removed him from the rotation last week in favor of 26-year-old Tyler Cravy, who started Friday night and lost to the Cardinals. Lohse pitched the final two innings of that game in his first relief appearance since September 2009.
By Sunday, it was a safe bet that Lohse had cleared waivers, though Brewers officials were barred by rule from saying so. If that was the case, the Brewers could trade Lohse to a team willing to take a flier on the 36-year-old returning to his 2011-14 form, when Lohse averaged 14 wins and posted ERAs of 3.54 or better each year.
Asked whether the Brewers were seeking a trade, assistant general manager Gord Ash said, "I would say we're always looking to improve our situation."
But it takes two teams to make a deal, and so far it appears that no other clubs have expressed more than passing interest. That could change closer to Sept. 1, when other clubs are relieved of their roster crunches and Lohse's remaining salary will be further reduced.
The Brewers could also opt to release Lohse and absorb what is left on the contract, as they did with Jeff Suppan in 2010 and Randy Wolf in '12. But manager Craig Counsell, who is briefed regularly by GM Doug Melvin and Ash, said on Sunday morning that he did not anticipate any imminent roster move involving Lohse.
As for how regularly he could use Lohse in relief, Counsell said, "I think I'll go by Kyle's feel a little bit. Certainly, initially, we're going to have to be a little [cautious]. But if you can give a two-inning appearance, there's a lot of value in those two-inning relief appearances.
"For most guys, if you pitch two innings, you won't pitch the next day. And with Kyle at first, I think we'll have to go a little slowly, and then hopefully he gets into a routine and we can use him a little more."
In a brief conversation on Sunday morning, Lohse expressed the same sentiment he stressed on Thursday after the Brewers announced his altered role and on Friday after the relief appearance: He will continue reporting for bullpen duty until told otherwise.
"There's no excuse for me," he said in a separate conversation this weekend with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It's not like I'm looking now for a change of scenery. But if there's a chance that it could be a benefit for this team to look at some young guys then maybe there's a chance I could hook on somewhere. Whatever works out best for [the Brewers]. I just want to play baseball and I want to finish strong wherever, however, and in whatever role that may be."