Jody Gerut returned home to Chicago on Thursday morning for the birth of a child, leaving the Brewers’ short bench even shorter. And that was before catcher Gregg Zaun left the team’s game against the Pirates in the second inning with a strained right shoulder.
Zaun’s diagnosis came as a surprise considering he appeared to hurt his left hand in the top of the second inning when a Paul Maholm pitch looked like it struck both Zaun’s hand and the handle of his bat. Zaun complained earlier this season of a knot behind his right shoulder that led to some throwing issues.
George Kottaras replaced Zaun, leaving only two healthy position players on the Brewers’ bench: infielder Craig Counsell and utility man Joe Inglett.
The team had already been playing short one position player since last week, when a decision was made to go to a 13-man pitching staff to help the struggling bullpen. But that bullpen was short, too, with closer Trevor Hoffman unavailable while he works out some mechanical issues.
Help should arrive Friday from center fielder Carlos Gomez, who is on track to be activated from the 15-day disabled list. He has not played since May 5 because of an injured left shoulder and would be a welcome right-handed bat on the roster. Macha conceded Thursday that teams have taken advantage lately of the Brewers’ left-handedness off the bench.
The Brewers also were strongly considering a promotion for left-hander Zach Braddock, who could help against Minnesota’s tough left-handed hitters including former American League MVPs Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Braddock, though, is not on the 40-man roster, so a corresponding move would have to be made ahead of Friday’s series opener at Target Field.
The 22-year-old Braddock has worked 10 scoreless outings for Triple-A Nashville this season plus one poor outing in which he surrendered eight runs in 2/3 of an inning.