Photo: Benny Sieu/U.S. Presswire
The Brewers' minor-league affiliates don't hold a lot of interest to many of the club's fans, but that might change this week: Three Brewers regulars who are currently on the DL -- Marco Estrada, Cesar Izturis, and Travis Ishikawa -- recently went out on rehab assignments to AAA Nashville, with the hope of returning to the big-league club soon. All three of them were expected to play in one of Nashville's games today (they had a doubleheader against the Omaha Storm Chasers, an affiliate of the Royals).
Estrada, who suffered a quad injury running the bases on May 24, started the first game of the doubleheader tonight, pitching three scoreless innings. He allowed one hit, walked four, and struck out two. (Though, according to Nashville's play-by-play announcer, the walk total was somewhat misleading, as several of the walks were on very close pitches.) Apparently, the plan is for him to make two starts in Nashville, then return to the Brewers, presumably to rejoin the rotation. However, depending on how Mike Fiers pitches in Estrada's absence, the Brewers could have an interesting playing-time situation on their hands when he returns. (If you missed it, Nick -- Michalski, not me -- offered his take last week.)
As for Ishikawa and Izturis, the former was the DH for the second game of the doubleheader, going 2-for-4 with a double, and the latter wasn't in the lineup for either game. (Izturis was slated to start for Nashville last night before the rainout, and was supposed to be in the lineup today, so he may have suffered a setback, but it's not clear as of right now.) Barring any further complications, both hoped to return to the Brewers in time for a series with the White Sox next weekend, according to MLB.com's Jordan Garretson.
When Izturis comes back, it's unclear exactly what the Brewers will do. Izturis was the starting shortstop in between Alex Gonzalez's injury and his, but that was before Cody Ransom came into the picture. Ransom hasn't set the world on fire, hitting .173/.317/.212 in 63 plate appearances, but his OPS is still higher than Izturis' (.529 vs. .503), and his career mark is over 80 points higher (.696 vs. .615). Izturis is considered to be a much better defender than Ransom, but Ransom has looked very good in the field during his time in Milwaukee. Nobody is sure who the shortstop is going to be when Izturis comes back, but there is a case to be made for both players.
Once Ishikawa returns, things could get even messier. The current first baseman is Corey Hart, who would presumably return to the outfield when Ishikawa comes back. However, Hart's replacement, Norichika Aoki, has been tearing up the ball, and is certainly going to remain in the lineup. At this point, there are a number of plausible scenarios: Ishikawa could slide in at first, with Hart moving to right and Aoki to center. Ishikawa could start out on the bench and everyone else could remain at their current spots. Or, some type of platoon arrangement may come up. At this point, none of us really know, and we won't see what Ron Roenicke does for another week or so at least.