Hoffman will need more than 15 DL days

SAN FRANCISCO — It did not exactly qualify as a surprise when Brewers manager Ken Macha said Sunday that closer Trevor Hoffman will not be ready to come off the disabled list when his term expires on Saturday.

Hoffman, who has not pitched since March 13 because of a strained muscle on his right side, played catch on Friday and Saturday and then took Sunday off. He will play catch again on Monday, when the Brewers take part in a 4 p.m. CT workout at AT&T Park as their final tune-up for Tuesday’s season opener.

Assuming he makes it through that session without a setback, the Brewers’ athletic training staff may devise a schedule for Hoffman to throw off a mound, then to face hitters, then perhaps to head out for a Minor League rehabilitation assignment. The process could run a few more weeks.

“Will he be ready on the 11th?” Macha said, referring to the date Hoffman is eligible to come off the DL. “Probably not. … Let’s wait until he gets on a mound, OK? I went through this whole thing with [oft-injured Oakland A’s starter Rich] Harden. I think the best you can do is wait until he gets on the mound and then start looking at what the possibilities are.”

The Brewers’ other offseason free agent pick-up, starter Braden Looper, also dealt with a side strain in Spring Training but is on track to start the season in the rotation. He threw 89 pitches in a Minor League intrasquad game in Phoenix on Sunday under the watch of Brewers bullpen coach Stan Kyles.

Looper is slated to start April 10 against the Cubs in Milwaukee’s home opener.

“He went to six innings, but it was hard to get a grip on some of the innings because he stayed out there more than three outs to get his pitch count in,” said Macha, who received a report from Kyles via e-mail. “He said he felt like he could go more, no problem. Stan said he did leave some split-fingers [split-fingered fastballs] up in the zone, but the hitters didn’t take advantage of it. All in all, [Looper] felt pretty good, so that’s encouraging.”

Kyles and Looper should re-join the team on Monday, when the Brewers have a more standard afternoon workout. They were forced to a late start Sunday [8:30 p.m. CT] because the Giants and Dodgers played an afternoon exhibition game.

For a time, Giants officials balked at the Brewers’ late workout request and Milwaukee officials were scrambling to identify alternatives. Macha did not want his team to sit idle until Tuesday after arriving from Los Angeles following Saturday’s game at Dodger Stadium.

“I just wanted to come out here and do something because of the two days off,” Macha said. “I don’t think you can go through all of Spring Training and all of a sudden sit down and do nothing for two days, then start it up again.”

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