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Blazek called up, makes season debut

Right-hander pitches two scoreless innings vs. the Orioles
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- For the second time in his career, Michael Blazek got back on track with a stint in the Triple-A starting rotation. He joined the Brewers bullpen on Monday, and remained productive in relief, pitching the final two innings of an 8-1 win over the Orioles at Miller Park.

The Brewers purchased Blazek's contract from Colorado Springs, where he posted a 2.89 ERA in 10 starts following a stretch of 10 relief appearances with a 4.35 ERA.

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MILWAUKEE -- For the second time in his career, Michael Blazek got back on track with a stint in the Triple-A starting rotation. He joined the Brewers bullpen on Monday, and remained productive in relief, pitching the final two innings of an 8-1 win over the Orioles at Miller Park.

The Brewers purchased Blazek's contract from Colorado Springs, where he posted a 2.89 ERA in 10 starts following a stretch of 10 relief appearances with a 4.35 ERA.

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"I feel good in the starting role. I like it, and I feel like I've done a pretty good job of it so far this year," Blazek said. "We'll see if I get an opportunity to do that up here. If not, it's fine. I just want to be up here. That's all that matters." 

There could be an opportunity in the coming weeks. Chase Anderson will miss at least a month and likely more with a left oblique strain, and the Brewers will go start-to-start in filling that spot, Brewers manager Counsell said. Left-hander Brent Suter got the first shot on Monday against the Orioles.

Blazek has pitched 94 times for the Brewers since 2013, all relief appearances. He was a key member of the 'pen in 2015, pitching to a 2.43 ERA in 45 games, but struggled with an arm injury and command issues last year, and had a 5.66 ERA in 41 games. The Brewers optioned him to the Minors in mid-March and asked Blazek to focus on strike-throwing.

"This is really the second time we got him back on track in the rotation," Counsell said. "You know, you try to do that with some guys and it doesn't work. With Michael Blazek, it seemed to work a couple times. For him, it's just probably getting out on the mound and getting a feel for his fastball and breaking ball.

"He's had walk issues in the past. He's really had them in the Minor Leagues at times, too, so I think for him, being out there multiple innings is the way he gets himself right I think as much as anything."

Hardy returns to Miller Park

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, on the disabled list with a fractured wrist and a cracked rib, was not supposed to make this road trip. But since it began in Milwaukee, where his career began, Hardy asked for and was granted an exception.

"I wanted to come back," Hardy said.

Tweet from @Brewers: There's a familiar face. �� pic.twitter.com/uTAKZKqbuA

Counsell was among the few familiar faces left at Miller Park. Hardy was also eager to catch up with Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker, first-base coach Ed Sedar (Hardy's first Minor League manager) and outfielder Ryan Braun.

It caught him off guard when Hardy was reminded that his first All-Star appearance was 10 years ago.

"This is my 13th year, and it's flown by," Hardy said.

"He's had a great run in Baltimore. It's not surprising. It's not surprising at all," said Counsell, a former teammate of Hardy's. "He's found a home, and he likes it there. They like him, and he's been a really consistent player, for sure."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Milwaukee Brewers, Michael Blazek