Thornburg suffers undisclosed injury
A day after absorbing most of the blows in the Pirates’ eight-run sixth inning, Brewers reliever Tyler Thornburg was unavailable Saturday because of an undisclosed injury that may prompt a roster move.
Neither manager Ron Roenicke nor assistant GM Gord Ash would say what part of Thornburg was injured, but Roenicke suggested it was not related to a shoulder that has occasionally given Thornburg some trouble.
“He’s got some other things going on so he will not pitch today,” Roenicke said. “Some physical things. We’ll find out a little bit more.”
Roenicke expected the Brewers to need a pitcher from Triple-A Nashville, where there are plenty of options but no automatic ones because none of the relievers who are pitching best — Donovan Hand, Dustin Molleken and Jeremy Jeffress — are on the 40-man roster. Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny had a promising rehab outing on Friday night, but is not yet ready to return to the big leagues.
“We don’t have those pieces in the bullpen where it’s an automatic [call-up],” Roenicke said. “Not like our starters. Our starters, we can grab [Jimmy] Nelson, we can grab Fiers. The bullpen pieces aren’t like that. [Michael] Blazek isn’t throwing like we hoped he would. [Alfredo] Figaro’s still on the DL; coming off of it pretty soon. But the guys that we have there on the roster are not in a position where we just kind of pop somebody up.”
Whatever the precise nature of Thornburg’s issue, Roenicke said he had been dealing with it for some time, perhaps helping to explain why the right-hander has not been as sharp of late.
After making the team as a long man, Thornburg pitched his way into a high-leverage set-up role and posted a 0.61 ERA in April, holding opponents to a .122 batting average in 14 games and producing a stretch of 13 consecutive scoreless appearances from April 5-29, retiring 21 consecutive batters in one stretch. In 11 appearances in May, Thornburg had a 6.00 ERA and a .319 average against.
He worked two scoreless innings against the Twins on Tuesday before enduring a nightmare outing at PNC Park on Friday night. Thornburg inherited two baserunners and a 6-3 deficit from Brewers starter Kyle Lohse and saw the Pirates extend their lead to 13-3. Thornburg was charged with five runs, all earned, on three hits and four walks, including a pair of bases-loaded walks.
“He was out there panicking,” said catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who visited the mound with third baseman Aramis Ramirez late in the inning.
He may also have been hurting.
A couple of other notes from today’s pregame:
— Gorzelanny’s Friday night rehab start for Triple-A Nashville went well — very well.
“His first encouraging outing,” Roenicke said. “Stuff was there and he felt good. Afterward he felt good. He pitches again Monday, I think it is, and we’re getting to the point where we need to make some decisions. But this has been the first good one he’s had.”
Gorzelanny allowed only one hit and no runs while throwing 34 pitches over 2 1/3 innings, with no walks and one strikeout. Jimmy Nelson, the previously-scheduled starter, pitched the game’s final six innings to finish a 1-0 Sounds victory.
He is scheduled for at least one more outing on Monday, 20 pitches in relief, and could subsequently pitch one more game Thursday before his 30-day rehab assignment expires. If Gorzelanny is ready, the Brewers will reinstate him to a bullpen that already features three left-handers (Will Smith, Zach Duke and Wei0Chung Wang). If Gorzelanny is not ready, he would return to the Brewers but stay on their disabled list.
Would it work to have a bullpen with four lefties?
“I don’t think it does in the long run unless your lefties are really dominating right-handers also,” Roenicke said “Smith has been able to do that. Duke has done it but we would like Duke more in situations with left-handers.”
— Wang underwent x-rays late Friday after he was struck on the right knee by a comebacker.
“He’s OK,” Roenicke said. “Sore, but OK.”
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