MILWAUKEE -- Gio Gonzalez, whose arrival in April sparked the best stretch of starts to date for the 2019 Brewers, is nearing a comeback at a time the club could use a spark once again.
Gonzalez, on the 10-day injured list with a left shoulder issue, is scheduled to throw a second, more aggressive bullpen session on Friday at Miller Park. If he clears that exercise, he would subsequently face hitters in a simulated game, said manager Craig Counsell, then make a start in the Minor Leagues.
Barring a setback, that could put Gonzalez back in the Brewers’ rotation before the All-Star break.
“I’m moving in the right direction,” Gonzalez said.
Counsell cited “dead arm” when the Brewers placed Gonzalez on the IL at the start of the month; Gonzalez described the problem as inflammation in the shoulder. It was likely the result of his odd offseason, as he lingered in free agency before resigning himself to a Minor League deal with the Yankees on March 19.
Before that, he developed a workout and throwing program on his own.
“I threw more bullpens in the offseason than I’ve ever done in my career,” he said. “It was a different choice for me: ‘Am I going too fast? Am I going too slow?’ I was all over the place. I didn’t know what to do.”
He said he pitched at home in the Miami area “anywhere there was dirt, and anywhere there was a mound. I was throwing in my backyard, I was throwing at high schools; Hialeah High, Braddock [High School]. I threw at St. Thomas University. I threw at the University of Miami. I was all over the place. I drove up and down South Florida.”
Along the way, there were lessons learned.
“If I have to go through it again this offseason, which I hope I don’t, I would definitely approach it differently,” he said.
• The Brewers didn’t expect Mike Moustakas back in the lineup until the weekend after he was hit on the left hand during Tuesday’s loss to the Padres, but there he was on Thursday against the Reds. Counsell said Moustakas was feeling better than anticipated on Thursday in the batting cage.
• The most pressing question in Brewers circles remains this: How long will they stick with Travis Shaw while top prospect Keston Hiura keeps hitting in the Minor Leagues? This long homestand could help provide an answer, since the Brewers will face a line of right-handers in the first series, against the Reds, and the third series, against the Pirates. The middle series, against the Mariners, figures to present some left-handers.
“It’s a good homestand for Travis, a good [opening] series for Travis, because he’s going to be in there a lot,” Counsell said. “Every game is an important game. He hasn’t gotten hot, there’s no question. He’s been really good at balls and strikes, I feel like. But the damage we’re used to seeing still has not been there.”
• Outfielder Trent Grisham, Milwaukee’s first-round Draft pick in 2015 who ranks 30th on MLB Pipeline’s list of the top Brewers prospects, earned his first promotion to Triple-A San Antonio on Thursday. Grisham was hitting .254/.371/.504 for Double-A Biloxi before the move.