MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' starting rotation is getting an earlier than expected boost with the return of right-hander Chase Anderson, who will skip his final scheduled rehab start and pitch against the Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field instead.
"I'm looking forward to that," said Anderson, who was Milwaukee's most effective starter before going down with a left oblique strain. "I feel good. My body feels good."
Anderson was 6-2 with a 2.89 ERA in 90 1/3 innings before straining a muscle in his side while swinging the bat in Cincinnati on June 28. He's already pitched twice in the Minors, first at Class A Wisconsin and then on Sunday at Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he threw 67 pitches and touched 95 mph.
"I'm ready for the rehab to be over," Anderson said. "Hopefully I can be back to where I was before I got hurt."
The original plan had Anderson traveling with the rest of the Brewers on Thursday to Denver, then driving down Interstate 25 for one more start at Colorado Springs. But with left-hander Brent Suter placed on the 10-day disabled list over the weekend with a rotator cuff injury, there was impetus to bring back Anderson early.
Now starting in center field … Villar?
Brewers manager Craig Counsell threw a curveball when he posted a lineup with infielder Jonathan Villar making his first career start in center field. Villar entered the day with all of four innings of Major League experience at the position from two games with the Astros in 2015.
But don't worry, Villar said.
"I'm fine, because at the end of my season, at my house [in the Dominican Republic], we play softball," Villar said. "I play center field, because you never know what position you'll stay in the future, right?"
"Yeah," Villar said with a smirk. "We play with my family and friends."
He borrowed an outfielder's glove from teammate Domingo Santana for the start, which was precipitated by a trade with the Mets for another switch-hitter, Neil Walker. Walker is expected to play the bulk of the Brewers' remaining games at second base.
But Villar had been productive of late (7-for-17 over his last four games) and could be helpful as a left-handed batter against right-handed pitchers with dramatic splits. One of those -- the Pirates' Ivan Nova -- started against the Brewers on Tuesday.
Counsell's other center-field options -- Keon Broxton and Hernan Perez -- are right-handed hitters.
"This is not going to be an everyday thing right now," Counsell said "There's no question we're taking a defensive risk when you put someone out at a position for the first time, but ... I think he has the skills to do it."
As a crash course on Tuesday, Villar took fly balls with Brewers third-base coach and outfield instructor Ed Sedar during early batting practice. He played the first seven innings in the field without incident, converting his only catch in the sixth.
"He made that play look easy and very routine on that one ball he had," Counsell said. "He'll get his chances for some tough plays. The ball finds you."
• Shortstop Orlando Arcia was a pregame scratch Tuesday with back spasms. Eric Sogard started in his place, giving the Brewers yet another left-handed bat against Nova.
• Travis Shaw returned to action after missing one game with a sore right leg. Shaw was hurt when he fouled not one but two pitches off his foot and leg in the same at-bat against the Reds on Saturday.