The Brewers burned Mat Gamel’s final Minor League option when they shipped the infielder to Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday, ending a bid for an Opening Day roster spot that never really began.
Gamel missed the first two weeks of Cactus League games with a right rib-cage strain he suffered early in Spring Training. He had a similarly ill-timed setback in 2010, when a torn muscle behind his right shoulder cost Gamel a chance to compete for a big-league job.
The 25-year-old Gamel is a career .302 hitter in the Minor Leagues and will spend time at Triple-A for the fourth consecutive season. His option is good all year, meaning the Brewers can promote him to the Majors and demote him to the Minors multiple times in 2011.
The tougher decision could come in 2012, when Gamel will be out of options and potentially a key player for the Brewers if Prince Fielder departs via free agency. Gamel came up as a third baseman, but was tried-out at first base and the corner outfield spots last season and is expected to move around again in 2011.