Pitching issues prompt Brewers to throw CC on short rest

Updated: September 23, 2008, 9:21 PM ET
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers interim manager Dale Sveum said he plans to pitch CC Sabathia again on short rest Wednesday.

After that, Sveum doesn't have a clue, except to say that Sabathia would be available again for Sunday's finale, if needed.

C.C. Sabathia

Sabathia

"We'll just wing the rest of it," said Sveum, who replaced Ned Yost last Monday. "Depending on what happens tonight and tomorrow, we'll make those decisions as the next two days unfold."

The Brewers are on their most important homestand since they last played in the postseason in 1982. They have a new manager and a one-game deficit to overcome against the NL wild card-leading Mets coming into Tuesday's game with Pittsburgh.

And their rotation is a mess.

Before the game, Milwaukee activated right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who has been missing since the beginning of May after needing knee surgery. But Ben Sheets is nursing a sore elbow and is out until at least the weekend, Manny Parra has been sent to the bullpen and Seth McClung and veteran righty Jeff Suppan have been ineffective in recent starts.

"Whether people think its right or wrong, you still do whatever you can with your personnel to put best people out there that are going to win that game that day," Sveum said. "That's where we're at."

Yost came under some criticism earlier this year when he allowed Sabathia (9-2) to throw 130 pitches in a start. The free-agent-to-be is near the top of every team's wish list and is seen as just a temporary rental for Milwaukee. Now Sveum could endure the same heat for pitching the big lefty so many times on short rest.

"It's still our best option to win tomorrow's game, it's the fact of the matter," Sveum said. "Fortunately you're able to have one of the best pitchers in all of baseball to endure three days' rest. ... The guy's a horse and he'll do everything he can."

Sabathia, who has been easygoing in the clubhouse ever since being traded from Cleveland on July 7 for four prospects, said he's ready to take the mound again Wednesday, and Sunday if needed.

"If we need to get in, if it's still that urgent on Sunday, I believe I'll be out there," said Sabathia, dismissing the idea that the additional work might impact his free agency negatively. "If it was [another] team I played for and we were in this same situation, please believe I'd take the ball every time they'd give me a chance to."

Sabathia started 9-0 and had six complete games, but recently he hasn't been able to stop the reeling Brewers, who have lost 15 of the last 20 after starting September with a 5-game lead in the NL wild-card race. In September, Sabathia is 0-2 with a 3.04 ERA in four starts while getting just nine runs in support.

"He's not going to get abused, we're just pitching him on three days' rest," Sveum said. "No doubt in my mind if we had signed him and we have six more years, I'd be doing the same thing. So that's the reality, whether people like or not.

"That's not my problem or CC's problem. That's the reality of the Milwaukee Brewers trying to get to the playoffs."

Sveum said Sheets definitely wouldn't pitch until Saturday or Sunday at the earliest and that Suppan is not injured, even though he's been terrible in his last four starts, going 0-3 with a 10.47 ERA.

"It'd be nice to have five guys lined up, be like the Cubs, that's a pretty nice rotation to throw out there five days in a row," Sveum said. "But we're not, so the reality is we've got to deal with it."

Gallardo also acknowledges he's probably not ready to move into a starter's role because he hasn't had any practice hitting yet and he's not sure how the reconstructed knee will respond.

"I haven't swung the bat, I haven't run the bases, so starting is kind of out," said Gallardo, who had a 1.80 ERA and no record in three starts before the injury May 1. "I just want to go out there and get a couple of innings and help them."

And Sveum and the Brewers need all the help they can get with time running out even with the manager still trying to get acclimated.

"There is a different feeling when you're making such decisions every day on the pitching staff. Like I said, nobody said life was easy," said Sveum, who has the lineup card from his first winning hanging in the office formerly occupied by Yost. "We've got one more week to see what happens."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press