Estrada returns from DL for Brewers
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
SAN FRANCISCO--Marco Estrada returned to the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, in line to make his first start in more than two months after a left hamstring strain forced him onto the disabled list.
With a little less than two months remaining in the season, what does this next opportunity mean for the 30-year-old right-hander?
“My job,” Estrada said bluntly.
“I mean, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be. It’s been two months since I’ve pitched. I’ve got to show them I can still do it. I’ve been keeping up with guys and I see that everyone is pitching really well now.
“Obviously I’ve got to fight for my job and hope that it’s enough.”
Estrada, 4-4 with a 5.32 earned-run average in 12 starts this season, has had a less-than-smooth return from the DL.
He was placed on the DL on June 5 and made a rehab start at Class A Wisconsin only to have to leave in the third inning with more pain in his hamstring. Estrada needed more than a month to recover from that setback as well as a back issue stemming from being “a wild sleeper.”
“You’ve got to let them heal,” Estrada said of his hamstring. “I didn’t do the right thing going back out there. I really thought I was fine. I was throwing bullpens, I didn’t feel much.
“I started moving around and doing things and next thing you know (my back) just locked up. I went from being able to run or jog to it hurt to walk, hurt to move, and that lasted a good 4-5 days. I kept throwing, trying to keep the arm loose, and that’s when I met up with the team in Arizona. That pushed me back five days at least, so that was unfortunate.”
Estrada eventually completed a start for the rookie-league Arizona Brewers on July 29 and then moved up to Class AAA Nashville where he took another turn on Aug. 2.
He was scheduled to pitch again for the Sounds on Thursday, meaning he’ll be making his return to the Brewers right on schedule.
And those rest days are about the only thing that have been normal in what’s been a frustrating two months for Estrada.
“I thought it was just going to be a week, to be honest with you,” he said.
“I thought for sure by the 15th day when I was eligible to come off (the DL) that I’d be 100 percent ready to go. I pushed it, thought I was ready and went out and made a start… and I wasn’t ready.
“I didn’t think it was going to take two months, that’s for sure. But I’m here now. I got pushed forward. It worked out, I guess.”
Estrada returns to a Brewers rotation that has looked more like a revolving door because of a rash of injuries. The Brewers have used 11 different starters through 113 games.
Just in the past week, stalwart Yovani Gallardo had to be placed on the DL with a strained left hamstring of his own, and replacement starter Tom Gorzelanny will be pushed back after being struck by a line drive in his pitching elbow. That cleared the way for Estrada’s return.
“I’m ready,” he said. “Health-wise, I’m fine. The leg’s fine, the back’s fine. I haven’t built up to 100 pitches yet, but I’m slowly getting there. I’m not sure what my pitch count’s going to be tomorrow, but it’s close enough to where hopefully I can give them the most I can go.
“Hopefully I can last over five innings. If I can do that then I’ve done my job.”
Manager Ron Roenicke also would like to see five innings. Beyond that, Roenicke is hoping to see Estrada return to being the guy who went 5-7 with a 3.76 earned-run average in 23 starts in 2012, numbers good enough to help fill out the back end of the rotation.
“I’d say it’s important for him to finish up well,” said Roenicke.
“We know he can also go to the bullpen, but if he wants to continue starting he needs to show us what he did last year. He’s got to be able to go out there and put up a lot of zeros like he did last year and keep us in ballgames.”