ST. PETERSBURG -- Chase Anderson felt "great" after a two-inning simulated game at Tropicana Field on Friday, as the Brewers moved another step closer to adding the sort of starting pitcher they were unable to acquire at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Anderson's next step is a Minor League rehab assignment, most likely spanning three starts beginning Tuesday or Wednesday, according to Brewers manager Craig Counsell. That would put the right-hander on a path to rejoin the Major League rotation during the back end of the team's next road trip, either in San Francisco on Aug. 23 or the subsequent series at Dodgers Stadium from Aug. 25-27.
"My body responded well. I feel really good right now," Anderson said after facing hitters for the first time since sustaining a left oblique strain in Cincinnati on June 28. "It was good to get hitters in there and get off a big league mound again and see how your stuff works, see how they're reacting to the ball."
Anderson topped 30 pitches, with Jonathan Villar, Stephen Vogt and assistant hitting coach Jason Lane among those standing in the batter's box. Vogt, on the DL with a left knee injury, merely tracked pitches, but he also took batting practice on the field for the first time and is making progress of his own.
"[Anderson] looked really, really good," Vogt said. "That's going to be a big pickup for us in a few weeks. That's bigger than any trade."
"For a first-time live BP, that's as good as it gets for me," Counsell said. "He was throwing very hard. No restrictions at all."
While Anderson pitched, Vogt hit and ran on the field Friday. His next step is catching a series of bullpens beginning Sunday here or Monday in Minneapolis to test the left knee he injured in a home-plate collision in Pittsburgh on July 17.
If all goes well, Vogt would also go on a Minor League rehab assignment. He's aiming to rejoin the Brewers by their Aug. 18-20 series at Colorado.
"Anything before that would be icing," Vogt said.
The Brewers optioned outfield prospect Lewis Brinson back to Triple-A Colorado Springs on Friday to clear a roster spot for pitching prospect Brandon Woodruff, who started against the Rays in his Major League debut. The team also promoted catcher Andrew Susac from Colorado Springs and placed Jett Bandy on the 10-day DL with a fractured left rib.
In many ways, this has been the worst of Susac's six professional seasons. A neck injury in Spring Training cost him a chance to compete for the Brewers' Opening Day roster, and cluster headaches sidelined him further in May. Susac was slashing .205/.307/.404 with Colorado Springs, the high-altitude, hitter-friendly affiliate. It's his lowest OPS of his Minor League career.
"It's been a typical 'me' year. Off and on," Susac said. "No excuses, nothing like that. But I'm not doing myself any favors by missing time here and there and having to restart."
Susac has performed better since getting his headaches under control with medication and oxygen treatments. In his last 23 games, he posted a .958 OPS in 98 plate appearances.
"The one thing about Susac, the last month he's swung the bat really well if you dig into it," Counsell said. "Hopefully he's turned the corner offensively, so that's kind of led to some confidence in getting him back here."
• Bandy's timetable is open-ended, but the Brewers expect Vogt to return before Bandy's rib is healed.
• The Brewers are dropping veteran reliever Tom Wilhelmsen from Colorado Springs to Double-A Biloxi. He signed a Minor League deal with Milwaukee after being released by the D-backs and has a 13.15 ERA and a 2.62 WHIP in 16 games since.