Santana odd man out as other Brewers excel

June 20th, 2018

PITTSBURGH -- Where in the world is ? On Wednesday, before the finale vs. the Pirates was postponed by rain, he was placed for the sixth straight time on the Brewers' bench, a place Santana rarely found himself a year ago while hitting 30 home runs as Milwaukee's regular right fielder.

Santana has been a victim of a drop in power production -- the 25-year-old entered Wednesday with a .358 slugging percentage and on pace for seven home runs on the season -- in addition to , who returned last week from a long stint on the DL for a thumb injury. Santana has been the odd man out in a mix of players manning the outfield spots and first base.

"Look, I acknowledge we're in a difficult spot with Domingo," manager Craig Counsell said. "I also think we're talking about the spots of Thames, [Jesus] Aguilar, [Christian] Yelich and [Lorenzo] Cain.

"Right now, there's just not a spot for Domingo. That's just where we're at right now, and that can change pretty fast."

Counsell also mentioned the other player in that outfield/first base mix, . He was away from the team Wednesday for treatment on his troublesome right thumb, but even then Santana couldn't crack the lineup.

Santana, asked about the situation, said, "I don't know what to say." He declined further comment.

Santana does have a Minor League option remaining, so the Brewers could send him to Triple-A Colorado Springs to get regular at-bats if Braun returns healthy from his treatment and the other players in that rotation remain healthy. But Counsell gave no indication the Brewers were considering such a demotion.

"Right now, it's better for him to help here," Counsell said.

"We have other players playing well, and that's what's making it tough," he added. "Those guys are going to play because they're doing a really good job. The power is down [for Santana]."

Miller time?

Thursday marks the first day the Brewers can consider calling up infielder Brad Miller, the veteran acquired from the Rays in a June 10 trade and immediately optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs. By rule, an optioned player must spend 10 days in the Minor Leagues before he can be called up, unless he is replacing an injured player.

Despite their lack of middle infield production, particularly at shortstop, there were no indications that the Brewers planned to promote Miller.

He has been reacclimating himself to shortstop after mostly playing first base for the Rays this season, committing three errors with the SkySox including two in his debut. In Miller's first 23 plate appearances in the Brewers organization, he posted a .263/.348/.421 slash line, including his first home run on Sunday.

"We're talking about it, but look, we're seeing if he can improve in some ways down there as well," said Brewers assistant general manager Matt Arnold, who came to Milwaukee from the Rays front office.

Asked what the Triple-A reports say about Miller's defense so far, Arnold said, "A couple of errors, but a couple of really good plays, too. He has made some plays that don't show up in the box score. The reports on him have been really positive so far."

In the Majors, meanwhile, shortstop remains mired in a miserable offensive slump. He was briefly demoted to the Minor Leagues before his replacement, , sprained his ankle. Saladino is weeks away from being healthy, and another potential option, prospect , is out for the year following knee surgery.

To date, Arcia's defense has kept him in the lineup most days.

"We know it's in there, and [Arcia] is still such a young player," Arnold said. "It's tricky to learn at the Major League level, especially when your team is really trying to compete. At the same time, there are a couple of plays that he makes every night that nobody else makes, right? It's unbelievable what he can do there. We're thrilled with his production on that side."

Albers still shut down

Eight days into his stint on the 10-day disabled list for a right shoulder injury, reliever Matt Albers said he was feeling improvement but has yet to resume playing catch. Until he does, Albers and the Brewers will be unable to craft a schedule for rehab outings.

"I'm not going to put a timetable on it now," Albers said. "I don't want to disappoint myself, or get to a point where I'm pushing past where I should be."