Notes: Gross sent down to Triple-A
Spurling back after family emergency; Hall set for rehab outing
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' pitching staff grew to 13 strong on Saturday, when reliever Chris Spurling was reinstated from the bereavement list and little-used outfielder Gabe Gross was optioned to Triple-A Nashville.The team opted for an extra arm because Ben Sheets is on the disabled list with a finger injury and the team is in the middle of a stretch of 18 games in 17 days, including a doubleheader in St. Louis next weekend. Gross had played only sparingly. He was hitting .202 in 55 games, but got only 18 at-bats in June and 17 at-bats in July. "Hopefully I'll be able to go down and get some at-bats," said Gross, 27. "It's been two years since I've been able to play every day, so that's going to be nice. I'm looking forward to waking up every day knowing my name is going to be in the lineup." The Triple-A Sounds are on the road, so Gross will travel to Nashville on Monday to join the team beginning Tuesday. He vowed to make it back to the big leagues. "I have never been more confident in my ability to play every day," Gross said. "I feel like if you put me in the lineup on the first of April and take me out the first of October, that my numbers won't just be adequate, they'll be very good. I have to convince somebody to give me that opportunity." Back on June 18, the Brewers faced a similar decision but opted to keep Gross over Tony Gwynn Jr., who was sent to Nashville to get at-bats. Gwynn had since returned to the Majors and was kept this time around, according to manager Ned Yost, partly because center fielder Bill Hall is on the disabled list and Gwynn is a true center fielder. Hall said Saturday that he expects to be back in the lineup Wednesday in Cincinnati, at which time the Brewers will have to make another roster move. If they stick with 13 pitchers, Gwynn may have to go back to Nashville again. "It's real important to us that Gabe Gross and Tony Gwynn are swinging the bat, because we're going to need them in September," Yost said. "They can be a big part of our bench and can win ballgames off of our bench. They're both young players and it's difficult for young players to stay sharp not playing every day." Back in the fold: Spurling declined to discuss the details of his six-day absence other than to say he left the team to attend to an emergency involving his year-old son, Logan. Logan was hospitalized after an accident at Spurling's home in Florida, and he quickly left the team Sunday afternoon. "He got out of the hospital on Wednesday and is pretty much back to 100 percent," said Spurling, who also has a 5-year-old daughter. "I'm glad to be back, and I'm glad he's OK. I'm just going to get out there now with a different outlook on life." The Brewers needed Spurling's fresh arm Saturday because much of the rest of the bullpen had been overworked. After pitching through what he called "stupid injuries" to his back and knee early in the season, Spurling had a 1.59 ERA over his last 11 appearances. But his harried week at home was as much on his mind as the Brewers' bullpen situation. "I definitely have a different outlook on things now," Spurling said. "Life is fragile, and things can happen in the blink of an eye. It's just the worst feeling ever because I was up here and they were so far away. "It's always going to be in my head, but knowing that [Logan] is OK, I can go out there and do my job." Hall to Arizona: Hall said he was leaving Sunday for Phoenix, where he would begin a Minor League rehabilitation assignment Monday. Hall said he would bat leadoff for two games, then travel to Cincinnati on Wednesday morning in time for the Brewers-Reds game that night. Assuming he returns Wednesday as he predicted, he will have missed 15 games. "I'm a quick healer," Hall said. Assistant general manager Gord Ash said the team would formally announce its plan for Hall on Sunday. Into the fire: Yost was impressed with lefty Manny Parra, who struck out the first Major League hitter he faced with the bases loaded in the eighth inning Friday, then struck out two more in a perfect ninth. "I don't care if it was mopup or anything," Yost said. "That's something you work your whole life for, and now all of a sudden, it's there. You're in there with the bases loaded, no room for error. That's pretty impressive." Matched up: Johnny Estrada took a foul ball off his foot in Thursday's game against the Diamondbacks, but that had nothing to do with the decision to pair catcher Damian Miller and starter Jeff Suppan on Friday, Yost said. Miller has caught each of Suppan's last three starts. "[Suppan] was struggling a little bit so you switched it off, and he's done a little better with Miller," said Yost, who insisted it was his decision, not Suppan's. Yost said he was not sure if the trend would continue. On deck: Pack a dinner for the Claudio Vargas/Barry Zito matchup Sunday afternoon. Vargas averages 17.7 pitches per inning of work and Zito 17.6 pitches, the second- and third-highest rate among National League pitchers with at least 80 innings this season. Arizona's Doug Davis tops that list with 17.9 pitches per inning.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.