PITTSBURGH -- The Brewers on Saturday placed Gio Gonzalez on the 10-day injured list with what manager Craig Counsell called a case of “dead arm,” which club officials surmise could be related to Gonzalez’s late signing with the Yankees and subsequent move to Milwaukee.
Whatever the cause, Gonzalez felt off following his most recent start at Minnesota and did not feel improvement when he played catch Saturday afternoon, so the Brewers opted to place Gonzalez on the IL, retroactive to Wednesday. Catcher Manny Pina, back from testing his strained right hamstring on a rehab assignment with Class A Wisconsin, took Gonzalez’s spot on the active roster. Zach Davies will start on regular rest in Gonzalez’s spot on Sunday against the Pirates.
“[Gonzalez] just doesn’t feel great throwing a baseball right now,” Counsell said. “Nothing structurally seems to be worrisome. It could be a product of a different Spring Training.”
The unexpected Gonzalez move further clouds what is to come next week, when the Brewers activate third baseman Travis Shaw from the 10-day IL. He will resume play at third base on Tuesday, presumably moving hot-hitting Mike Moustakas to second, which has been filled ably by Keston Hiura -- Milwaukee's top prospect -- who on Friday accounted for three of the Brewers’ six hits including a three-run home run.
On one hand, since Pina’s return temporarily gave the Brewers three catchers, the team could simply option Jacob Nottingham back down to create a spot for Shaw. But would Hiura remain in the Majors if he does not have a position to play? And, how long will the Brewers be willing to play down one pitcher?
They will need a fifth starter again on Saturday, when the Pirates are at Miller Park. That happens to be the first day Gonzalez is eligible to return from the IL.
“This is what we’re doing today,” said Counsell on Saturday, shutting down talk of what might come next.
Shaw had his best Minor League game to date on Friday night, when he smashed a 426-foot solo homer for one of three hits in Triple-A San Antonio’s 3-0 win.
"This [rehab assignment] was nice for me," Shaw told the Missions’ website. "I think it was kind of needed. But, now it's getting a little antsy. I know I can help that team up there in more ways than one. I'm ready to get back and kind of prove that my slow start was just that -- just a slow start."
Adjustment pays off for Claudio
Slumping left-hander Alex Claudio delivered a bright spot for the Brewers in Friday’s loss, working two scoreless innings with only one hit allowed. It snapped a streak of four straight appearances in which Claudio, who has been hurt by right-handed hitters, surrendered at least one run.
It was also his Major League-leading 30th appearance.
The key may have been a subtle shift from the extreme first base side of the mound to the middle.
“It kept me closer to the zone,” Claudio said, via translator Carlos Brizuela. “I wasn’t missing by much. I was talking to the pitching coaches the last few days, and I think [Friday] helped me out a little bit.”
The Brewers traded the 41st overall pick in next week’s Draft to the Rangers for Claudio, whom they control through 2021. Like many a left-hander with a funky delivery, he thrives against left-handed hitters, but with their heavy reliance on relievers to cover innings, the Brewers believe Claudio must be, and can be, more than a lefty specialist.
He hopes his adjustment pays long-term dividends.
“Baseball goes up and down,” Claudio said. “So hopefully we go back up.”
Moustakas and Brandon Woodruff were voted the Brewers’ player and pitcher of the month for May. Woodruff was an easy pick after going 4-0 with a 1.36 ERA for the month, and Moustakas got the top player honors over contenders Yasmani Grandal and Ryan Braun by virtue of his team-leading eight home runs and 21 RBIs.