Saito cleared to try again

A day after he was scratched from a rehabilitation assignment at Class A Wisconsin, Brewers reliever Takashi Saito was cleared by a club doctor to try again Tuesday or Wednesday at Triple-A Nashville.

The precise plan was still being formulated when assistant general manager Gord Ash briefed reporters about Saito, who was in Appleton, Wis. on Sunday to rehab a left rib-cage strain when he reported feeling tightness in his upper back.

“He just didn’t feel right. He didn’t want to push it,” Ash said.

By Monday, when Saito was examined again by head team physician William Raasch, that sensation was gone.

Saito’s original schedule called him to pitch Sunday in Appleton, then Tuesday and Thursday in Nashville before re-joining the Brewers over the weekend in Boston. The Brewers may push him to Wednesday and Friday, Ash said, and will likely add an appearance or two beyond those games.

That would push Saito’s return to the big league bullpen into the Brewers’ next homestand.

“Just with the history he’s had you have to be careful,” Ash said. “So I can’t really tell you when.”

It’s the second time this season that Saito went out on a rehab assignment and returned to Milwaukee with a different injury. He was working back from a quadriceps strain in late April when he developed the rib-cage problem.

Saito, 41, has been limited to two appearances this season because of injuries. He was supposed to be the Brewers’ primary setup man for John Axford after making at least 45 appearances with an ERA of 2.83 or better in each of his first five Major League seasons. The Japanese import made 56 appearances in each of the past two seasons, including last year with Atlanta.

“If he duplicated what he did last year, he would have been a pretty important component for us,” Ash said. “If we get him healthy for the second half, it will be like making a trade.”

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