Brewers nearing decision on Gorzelanny

Brewers left-hander Tom Gorzelanny faced what assistant GM Gord Ash called a “pivotal” outing in his Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Friday, when he started for Triple-A Nashville ahead of top prospect Jimmy Nelson, who was scheduled to follow Gorzelanny’s 35 pitches.

Gorzelanny is still trying to get back from a December shoulder surgery and the Brewers wanted to see him in an extended, controlled outing. Hence, it made sense to have him go first and Nelson second.

“Because Tom is going to go more pitches than he has before, as you said, stretch out, we didn’t want to get into a situation where you didn’t really know how much game you needed left to accommodate his 35 pitches,” Ash said. “If you took Nelson out in the sixth to give [Gorzelanny] three innings for his 35, you don’t know. It’s just easier to do it this way to accommodate both of them and what they need to do.”

How has Gorzelanny been throwing the ball?

“I would respond to that by saying he’s still there,” Ash said.

Gorzelanny’s 30-day rehab assignment expires Thursday. His ERA in eight Minor League appearances so far looks good — 1.54 — but Ash said Gorzelanny’s varying velocities have been worrisome. He has reached 90 mph, “but it’s been inconsistent.”

“Tonight will be pivotal,” Ash said. “Depending on what he does and shows tonight, we’ll have to make some decisions.”

What are the options?

“Well, he’s continued to still report some stiffness, and if he continues to report that, the ability not to get loose, then we’ll have to bring him back from the rehab and just leave him on the DL for a while,” Ash said. “The goal, obviously, is to get him [back on the active roster]. With his experience, we could use him. But if he’s not physically right, we’re going to have to look at the alternatives, which is to recall him from rehab and keep him on the DL. Tonight will answer that.”

If a doctor certifies that Gorzelanny’s shoulder remains unhealthy or has been re-injured, he can be sent on another rehab assignment when he gets healthy.

“You get to start the clock over again, essentially,” Ash said.

 Other topics that came up in a dugout discussion with the Brewers’ assistant GM: 

– With Day 1 of the First-Year Player Draft in the books, free agent Kendrys Morales is now truly free to sign with any team, without costing that club a Draft pick. The Brewers have been linked to Morales, and Ash was asked to characterize the club’s interest.

“There’s certainly been discussions, but I wouldn’t say there’s been any resolution to those discussions,” Ash said. “It’s just part of exploring options and players that can help us.”

Three factors work against a union between Morales and the Brewers:

1. Position. Because they are in the National League, he could not serve as designated hitter on a regular basis, as he has done since suffering a terrible left ankle injury celebrating a winning grand slam in 2010.  Some scouts question his mobility and durability at first base because of lingering effects from that injury. In other words, would taking a hit defensively be worth the boost from Morales’ bat?

2. Cost. There’s been some chatter that Morales may seek a multi-year contract.

3. Chemistry. The Brewers have been in first base all season, and incumbent first basemen Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay are two of the most popular veterans on the team. Chuckle at this if you want, but it’s at least a small part of the debate.

– Another reliever, Jim Henderson, is beginning to ramp back up after a setback on his rehab assignment two weeks ago.

“He did some plyo work yesterday and reported feeling much better on the first day this time than on the first day last time,” Ash said. “So we’ll look at that as progress.”

– Speaking of progress, Jeremy Jeffress is pitching well at Triple-A Nashville. The Brewers re-signed the former first round Draft pick to a Minor League deal in April, and you can read the backstory here.

He has a 1.71 ERA in 14 games for Nashville.

“He had one bad outing where he got wild, but all the rest of them have been very good,” Ash said. “He’s been in control. He’s been used in good situations. I think he’s in a good place mentally. So yeah, he’s done well.”

Is he working his way into discussions about a call-up, should the Brewers find themselves in need of relief help?

“I can tell you with certainty that almost every player on the Triple-A club gets talked about one way or another,” Ash said. “When we brought up [utility man Irving] Falu last time, we talked about a whole bunch of guys. If and when we need to make a pitching move, they all get talked about. We have regular sessions, we do once a month conference calls with all of our Minor League clubs and regular conference calls with all of our rovers, so there’s a lot of input on what they’re doing and how they’re performing. In fact, I talked several times with [Sounds manager] Rick Sweet today.

“They’ve all got great physical [tools]. [Dustin] Molleken does, [Arcenio] Leon does, Jeffress does, [Michael] Blazek does. They’ve all got great physical tools. What’s keeping them from being in the big leagues is consistency. They still struggle with that.”

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