PHOENIX -- Jimmy Nelson has not had a setback. Everyone was on the same page about that.But the Brewers right-hander also has not taken the critical next step of throwing off a mound for the first time since major shoulder surgery last September, so Nelson departed for Los Angeles on
PHOENIX -- Jimmy Nelson has not had a setback. Everyone was on the same page about that.
But the Brewers right-hander also has not taken the critical next step of throwing off a mound for the first time since major shoulder surgery last September, so Nelson departed for Los Angeles on Wednesday for a checkup with Dr. Neal ElAttrache to see what the surgeon suggests next.
Manager Craig Counsell described Nelson's comeback as "at a plateau" after Nelson got significantly ahead of schedule before beginning a throwing program. General manager David Stearns called the visit with ElAttrache "just a part of the process of rehab."
"Look," Stearns said, "we all know this was a complex surgery, and it's a complex rehab and a complex recovery. We all want definitive answers -- Jimmy more than everyone. We want to know exactly how the rehab process is going to go. We want to know exactly when he's going to be back on the mound. And that's not realistic in recoveries like this.
"We're still, frankly, probably, ahead of schedule from where ElAttrache said we would be when the surgery was first completed. I think Jimmy got himself way ahead of schedule during the early part of his rehab program, and now we're slowing down a little bit, and that's OK. I don't really think there is a level of concern here. I'm sure Jimmy would like this to be moving faster, but this is where we are right now."
Said Counsell: "When we get ahead of schedule and then we kind of get back on schedule, we're at a plateau. So, we just want to make sure everything is progressing in the right direction. Mentally, it helps. It's important for everybody involved in the rehab process that we know we're still going in the right direction."
Saturday will mark eight months since surgery to repair multiple structures in Nelson's right shoulder, including the labrum, rotator cuff and capsule. Nelson was injured sliding headfirst back to first base after hitting a long single against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Sept. 8. Labrum tears can require up to 12 months of rehab, but the position of Nelson's -- in the front of the shoulder, and not in the back as is more typical of repetitive-use injuries -- offered some hope of returning earlier. At the Brewers On Deck fanfest in January, pitching coach Derek Johnson told fans that June was a possibility, which would be nine months post-surgery.
Any timeline, of course, depended on how Nelson responded to his throwing program. Before departing Wednesday he continued to characterize himself as, "like, four months ahead."
"We'll see if [ElAttrache] thinks it's good enough to progress, to keep throwing at 150 [feet] or go to the mound, or whatever," Nelson said. "It still hasn't been consistent enough to get off the mound." Until he progresses to throwing off a mound, the Brewers won't know whether to expect his return before or after the All-Star break.
"I know Jimmy would love 'pre,'" Stearns said. "But right now, the next step is to get him on a mound. If that takes two weeks, that's great. If that takes another month, that's OK. The next step is let's keep progressing through the throwing program, get him on a mound throwing side sessions. Once we do that, it becomes much easier to map out a definitive 'return-to-competition' timeframe."
Asked whether there any scenario in which Nelson misses the season, Stearns said, "I don't think we are at the point of thinking that's a possibility."
Nelson's appointment with ElAttrache is scheduled for Thursday.
"Remember, we got way ahead of schedule," Counsell said. "So, I think plateaus are kind of expected. That's where we're at right now."
• When Counsell met with reporters Wednesday morning, he did not yet know whether Ryan Braun's stiff back had abated to the point he could pinch-hit. Braun has not played since Sunday, and if the problem still persists Friday, Counsell said, the team would have to consider placing Braun on the 10-day disabled list.
• Reliever Jeremy Jeffress, after being unavailable Tuesday night with a stiff neck, said he was feeling better and was back in the general bullpen population for Wednesday's series finale against Arizona.
• Utility man Nick Franklin was staying behind in Arizona to rehab his strained right quad at Maryvale Baseball Park. The injury has improved since Franklin was sustained it on May 9. First baseman Eric Thames will also remain in Phoenix to continue his comeback from left thumb surgery.
• Right-hander Chase Anderson has recovered from the illness that landed him on the DL over the weekend in Denver. He is scheduled to come off the DL on Monday to start against the D-backs at Miller Park.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.