MILWAUKEE -- Needing a fresh bullpen arm for Saturday's game against the Cubs, the Brewers summoned veteran J.J. Hoover and optioned rookie right-hander Brandon Woodruff to Triple-A Colorado Springs, a day after Woodruff covered only 11 outs of Milwaukee's walk-off win over the Cubs.Hoover, one of the Brewers' final Spring
MILWAUKEE -- Needing a fresh bullpen arm for Saturday's game against the Cubs, the Brewers summoned veteran J.J. Hoover and optioned rookie right-hander Brandon Woodruff to Triple-A Colorado Springs, a day after Woodruff covered only 11 outs of Milwaukee's walk-off win over the Cubs.
Hoover, one of the Brewers' final Spring Training cuts, needed a spot on the team's 40-man roster, so the Crew designated left-hander Tyler Webb for assignment in a corresponding move.
"We've logged a lot of innings here and some guys had some long appearances [Saturday]," manager Craig Counsell said. "J.J. is fresh and ready to go."
In the team's first eight games, Brewers relievers worked 36 2/3 innings to the starters' 38 1/3 innings.
The Brewers are not down on Woodruff, who has a 5.14 ERA after two relief stints and one start. Rather, it was an example of employing roster flexibility to manage their bullpen and starting rotation, a concept likely to come up often this season. Between the big leagues and upper levels of the Minors, the Brewers have a group of pitchers with Minor League options -- Corbin Burnes, Adrian Houser, Jorge Lopez, Freddy Peralta, Brent Suter, Webb (if he remains in the organization), Taylor Williams and Woodruff among them -- who can be moved up and down this season based on need.
That could come into play again by Wednesday, when the Brewers will need a starter in Woodruff's spot against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Unless he replaces an injured player it cannot be Woodruff, since an optioned player must remain in the Minors for at least 10 days.
At the moment, Brewers GM David Stearns and Counsell are trying to stay at seven relievers as long as possible so they can keep out-of-options Jesus Aguilar as a bat off the bench and occasional first baseman.
"We're in a mode where David is kind of actively managing the roster," Counsell said. "We're able to consider that on a daily basis right now. It looks like right now we'll have some flexibility with that spot, the ability to get arms here if we need them."
Hoover, however, is out of options. A veteran of 288 appearances with the Reds and D-backs, Hoover surrendered only one run on six hits in 10 1/3 Spring Training innings, but didn't make the Opening Day roster because the Brewers chose to preserve maximum roster flexibility. Hoover was in camp on a Minor League contract, and did not have an "out" in his deal until June.
"It was a tough decision at the end," Counsell said. "He was one of the last guys we sent out, and I expected him to be here quickly. And he is."
Why Hoover over Williams, who had an equally sparkling camp and is a top Brewers prospect who was already on the 40-man roster? Because Williams was optioned at the end of Spring Training and was subject to the 10-day rule. The Triple-A season just began Thursday.
• Outfielder Christian Yelich was out of the lineup for a third straight day with right oblique discomfort. Counsell said there was progress -- Yelich has played catch and taken some dry swings -- but that the outfielder was "doubtful" for Sunday's series finale against the Cubs.
"I think we can get through the weekend and then we might in good shape on Monday [in St. Louis]," Counsell said. "He's progressing, which I think is the way to say it."
• Catcher Stephen Vogt, on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain, played catch on the field for the first time Saturday morning and reported feeling great. He will repeat the exercise Sunday and, barring a setback, again Tuesday as he slowly builds toward a Minor League rehab assignment. The Brewers hope to have Vogt back to game speed by early May.
• Reliever Dan Jennings' contract terms are now known, thanks to the Tampa Bay Times. Jennings signed with the Brewers last week for $750,000 plus up to $1.075 million in incentives for appearances, according to the newspaper. Since he also received about $575,000 in termination pay when the Rays released him in Spring Training, Jennings will get a chance to earn all of his original $2.375 million contract with Tampa Bay.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.