With Saito ready, difficult decision looms

With reliever Takashi Saito ready to return from the disabled list within the next 24-48 hours, the Brewers on Sunday Thursday were still mulling ways to get him back on the active roster.

The team wants to return to a standard, seven-man bullpen after working with only six relief pitchers in New York. That means a bench player would have to go, and if you assume the Brewers want to keep Mat Gamel to serve as the designated hitter this weekend in Minnesota, then outfielder Carlos Gomez is the only bench player who could be optioned to Triple-A Nashville.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Roenicke said. “I’m not saying down the road that wouldn’t happen, but right now, [Gomez] had a nice day the other day against [the Twins’ Francisco] Liriano and I’m planning on playing him today and [Friday].”

The Brewers faced left-hander CC Sabathia on Thursday and will see Liriano again in Minneapolis on Friday night. Gomez had two hits off Liriano last weekend at Miller Park, including a home run.

“We’re looking at some things,” Roenicke said. “There have been a lot of discussions the last couple days. It is a difficult move.”

The Brewers’ other bench players are outfielder Mark Kotsay, infielders Craig Counsell and Josh Wilson, plus Gamel, a third baseman-turned-outfielder-turned-first baseman who was promoted this week to serve as the designated hitter for the Brewers’ weeklong stint of Interleague games in American League parks.

Wilson has been productive since the Brewers claimed him off waivers from Arizona, batting .261 in his first 19 games, and he’s regularly the only right-handed hitter on the bench. Counsell is hitting .200 but is the Brewers’ most valuable defensive substitute. The veteran Kotsay, who signed in February for $800,000 plus incentives, entered Thursday in an 0-for-17 slump that had lowered his average .231. He had no home runs and nine RBIs in 130 at-bats.

Someone may have to go for Saito, who has been sidelined this season by left hamstring, left rib-cage and right upper back strains, is expected to re-join the Brewers on Friday in Minneapolis. There is a good chance, Roenicke said, that Saito will be activated either Friday or Saturday.

Roenicke is planning to ease Saito back into a late-inning role.

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1 Comment

Give him one more rehab appearance and then when he gets hurt again we won’t have this issue. Or drop Kotsay. He’s terrible and old and I cringe every time he steps to the plate in a clutch situation.

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