Gomez optimistic after resuming baseball activities
MILWAUKEE -- Two days after he was limping around the clubhouse on crutches, Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez resumed baseball activities on Sunday and spoke of returning to the lineup before the end of the week.
Gomez sprained his right knee when he made a wall-banging catch on Thursday against the Reds, and he needed an MRI scan the following morning to confirm there was no serious damage. He completed a pool workout on Sunday, took "dry" swings in the batting cage and played catch on the field, and hoped to graduate to regular batting practice before the Brewers begin a series against the Cardinals on Monday.
His timeline remains open-ended. Considering the Brewers will want to use Tuesday to see how Gomez responds to his field work, and that Wednesday is a day game and Thursday a scheduled off-day, it could make sense to wait until Friday's series opener in Cincinnati for Gomez to return to the lineup.
Whatever the precise date, manager Ron Roenicke remained optimistic Sunday that Gomez would avoid the disabled list.
"Everything is going like it's supposed to," Gomez said. "It's way, way better."
Gomez said Monday would be a "big day" in terms of determining a schedule for his comeback. He would not rule out playing before the end of the Cardinals series.
"When we knew there is no damage there, we can be more aggressive," Gomez said of his speedy recovery. "I don't know about two days, three days [before I can return]. If it goes the way it's going right now, we expect to play soon, but we don't have a date. If I played another position, like first base, and I didn't depend on my speed, maybe sooner. But the way I play, the way I run, my speed is a big part of my game."
Righty Kintzler cruising against left-handed hitters
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' deadliest relief option against left-handed hitters is a right-handed pitcher, Brandon Kintzler. Truth be told, manager Ron Roenicke is not entirely sure why.
"If you look at what his numbers are against lefties, it's pretty incredible," Roenicke said. "A sinkerballer usually scuffles a little bit with lefties, and for whatever reason, they don't see it. … I don't know why. He must have some late movement that you can't see."
The numbers: Entering Sunday, lefties were hitting .147 (11-for-75) against Kintzler, while righties were hitting .236 (29-for-123) off of him this season. Those numbers were boosted by the 29-year-old's recent hot streak; he has not been charged with an earned run in his last 20 1/3 innings, and he has not been scored upon in 23 of his last 24 appearances, or in and 35 of his last 39.
Kintzler's changeup helps him against left-handed batters, but he has also had success against them with the fastball. In the seventh inning of Saturday's 2-0 win over the Reds, he surrendered a single to Jay Bruce on that pitch, but also used it to record the game's two most important outs, an Xavier Paul double play with the bases loaded.
"I just know, if I stay on top of the ball, I have a good shot," Kintzler said. "The one I threw to Bruce was really flat, but [it's OK] as long as I really stay on top of stuff, and if they hit it through the hole, they hit it through the hole, as long as I keep them on the ground."
Like John Axford, Kintzler is a success story for the Brewers' pro scouting staff. He was pitching for the St. Paul Saints in the independent American Association when Milwaukee signed him in July 2009.
Elbow-related injuries limited Kintzler's contributions in 2011 and 2012, but, "Every time we've seen him here, we really like what we see," Roenicke said. "The first time we saw him, we were surprised what kind of stuff we had. It's not just 93-, 94-[mph]; it's got big movement and he throws strikes. I don't know why, but if you take his fastball and [Wily] Peralta's fastball, and Wily throws it 96, they take worse swings off Kintzler. I don't know why."
"I just want to be able to help the team win, whether that was in the sixth [inning] like I was before, or later," Kintzler said. "It's a lot more fun [to pitch with the lead in the late innings]. I love the intensity of it."
Wooten expecting birth of first child this week
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers reliever Rob Wooten's first weeks in the Major Leagues have gone so well, he does not want to stop. But he will gladly leave the team Wednesday morning to head home to North Carolina for the birth of his first child.
Katie Wooten is scheduled to deliver Wednesday, and the plan is for Rob to rejoin the Brewers on Saturday in Cincinnati. The team will be able to use the paternity list to call up a replacement reliever in the meantime.
"Ron [Roenicke], everybody has been great about it," Wooten said.
Wooten entered Sunday with a 0.75 ERA in his first 11 big league appearances. He didn't allow a run in the first 10, logging 11 scoreless innings to come within two innings of Mike Adams' Brewers record to begin a Major League career.
Wooten's scoreless streak ended when he surrendered a go-ahead run against the Reds on Friday, a game the Brewers won in the bottom of the ninth inning on Jonathan Lucroy's two-run home run.
"It feels a lot better because we won," Wooten said. "It was a great run, but I didn't think about that when I was out there. I wasn't happy about giving up that run. But one run, you know we can come back from that. And we did. Lucroy got me off the hook."
• Third baseman Aramis Ramirez took Sunday off after playing five straight games following a stint on the disabled list. He had played all nine innings in four straight games entering Sunday, the first as a designated hitter and the other three at third base. Ramirez is 1-for-16 since returning.
"Hopefully we can get him back out there [Monday]," said Roenicke, who was unsure whether Ramirez would play all three games against the Cardinals.