Hawkins recalled from Nashville
“I called myself up,” said the veteran reliever. “I told them, ‘I’m tired of pitching in the minor leagues.’ “
Actually, Hawkins was recalled from his minor-league rehabilitation assignment with Class AAA Nashville. But, because he pitched both Saturday and Sunday by design, he will not be available to pitch again before Wednesday.
Manager Ron Roenicke said a decision would be made that day whether to activate the 38-year-old right-hander or wait until after the day off Thursday.
“His velocity is back up there again,” said Roenicke. “We wanted him to go back-to-back games and see how he did, and his velocity was good in both. And he has thrown a lot.”
When Hawkins is activated, reliever Brandon Kintzler would be the logical candidate to return to Nashville.
After being restricted to 18 games in 2010 by shoulder woes that eventually resulted in surgery in late August, Hawkins is looking forward to pitching again in the majors.
“I feel great; like I did in ‘09,” he said. “No pain, no restrictions, no tightness. I feel outstanding.”
Morgan still hurting
Outfielder Nyjer Morgan remained unavailable for the fifth consecutive game to do any more than pinch hit while recovering from a right thigh bruise.
Asked if Morgan was going to avoid the DL, Roenicke said, “I’m not going to say that. I figured he’d be OK today, actually. So we’ll just have to see how that goes.”
Morgan said, however, that he was getting closer to being available to play in the outfield.
“It’s loosening up,” he said. “I honestly don’t trust it yet. It’s just a little setback, nothing major.”
With Morgan unavailable, Roenicke had little choice but to continue to play Carlos Gomez in center despite a .196 batting average and .250 on-base percentage entering the series. Gomez remained in the No. 2 spot in the batting order because Roenicke said he had no better option.
“I don’t think (batting .196 with a .250 OBP) is where he’s going to be all year,” said Roenicke. “I think it’s just early to try to make that decision on him.”
I don’t really think (there’s a better option) right now. Nyjer would be a fit if he was healthy.”
Hart heads out
Roenicke said he thought the players who had filled in for injured right fielder Corey Hart had done “a great job.” But the fact remains that Mark Kotsay, Erick Almonte and Morgan have combined for two runs batted in while starting in right, tying for the lowest figure in the league.
Hart left the club before the opener against Philadelphia to travel to New Orleans, where he will begin a minor-league rehab assignment Tuesday with Nashville. Hart has been sidelined since early spring with a strained left oblique.
Roenicke said he figured Hart would need a week or so to get ready to rejoin the Brewers. That coincided with Hart’s goal to make it back during the Cincinnati series on the next home stand.
“It feels pretty good now,” said Hart. “I can throw and hit and everything and not feel it. I know they want me to take my time and make sure I’m right, but hopefully I can come back sooner.”
As for how much the Brewers have missed Hart, “I knew it was going to hurt us. What helped was Nyjer getting so hot. That really sparked the club.
“You’re not going to replace Corey. When you have him there, it allows Nyjer to come off the bench and spot start when you need him. Corey can drive the ball; hit for average. He’s a good defender.”
Asked if Hart would bat in the No. 2 hole when he returns, Roenicke said, “We don’t know right off. Out of spring training, when I first talked to Corey about it, that’s what I was thinking. But I’d like him to get good first. Once he gets good, we’ll decide where to play him.”
Firm on Greinke
Roenicke reiterated that he expects Zack Greinke to make three starts, at the least, on minor-league rehab before joining the Brewers’ rotation. Greinke begins his assignment Tuesday with Class A Brevard County.
“It’ll be three; it’s not going to be two,” said Roenicke. “If everything goes well, it’ll be three. Let’s hope it’s three (and no more). Then we’ll have to look at it.”