Encouraging MRI for DiFelice

Brewers reliever Mark DiFelice appears to have dodged a major bullet on Monday, when he traveled back to Milwaukee for an MRI scan that revealed only wear and tear in his aching right shoulder.

That qualified as good news for DiFelice, who underwent major surgery following the 2001 season to repair a SLAP tear to the labrum in his shoulder and needed 2 1/2 years to feel 100 percent healthy again. DiFelice worried that he might have suffered a similar injury again on Sunday, when he felt pain in the joint and left the Brewers’ game in Arizona. 

Instead, DiFelice will be shut down for at least four days before he’s evaluated again. Brewers manager Ken Macha said he might have further information about the plan for DiFelice on Tuesday, but surgery doesn’t appear to be looming. 

“It doesn’t look like it’s anything too serious,” DiFelice said. 

The timing of the injury is troubling because the Brewers have just three weeks left in their season. DiFelice felt discomfort on his 10th and final pitch in the fourth inning on Sunday on a Ball 4 offering to D-backs pitcher Max Scherzer. After a mound visit from assistant athletic trainer Dan Wright, DiFelice was pulled from the game.

Fellow reliever Chris Smith escaped the inning to avoid further damage to DiFelice’s steadily-climbing ERA. He was one of the Brewers’ most reliable bullpen arms with a 1.64 ERA entering a July 26 outing against the Braves, but in 20 appearances since then he has a 9.45 ERA. 

The shoulder, he said, hasn’t been the issue. 

“After the surgery I’ve had good days and bad days, but over the last four years it’s been absolutely perfect. [Sunday night], I just tweaked it,” DiFelice said. “I think anybody can do that. The worst thing is when something happens at the end of the season. That’s annoying.”

Wth DiFelice out, the Brewers have eight pitchers in the bullpen plus left-hander Chris Narveson, who started on Sunday in place of Manny Parra. Narveson could be called upon to start again Friday if Parra’s stiff neck does not improve.

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