MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said closer John Axford was "still the guy" on Wednesday, about 12 hours after Axford suffered his third blown save in his past five chances, but cited Axford's recent heavy workload in saying he was unsure about his closer's availability for Wednesday."He's scuffling, he is," Roenicke said. "I can't give you an answer why. For a while, it was not pitching enough, and now it's pitching too much. It changes a lot." Axford surrendered back-to-back home runs Wednesday night a few hours after his wife gave birth to the couple's second child. He could have taken the night off, but said he reported to Miller Park in the middle innings in the event of a save situation because, "It's my job -- for now, anyways." All season, Axford has had off and on issues with command, forcing him into fastball counts. Both of the home runs he surrendered in Wednesday's loss, to Colby Rasmus and Jose Bautista, came on 3-1 counts. Axford's backup is Francisco Rodriguez, who has 292 saves, including a Major League single-season record 62 saves in 2008.
Brewers mulling DL stint for Marcum
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers were considering their options Wednesday for sidelined right-hander Shaun Marcum, including a possible stint on the 15-day disabled list that would allow for a fresh player to join the active roster.Marcum underwent an MRI exam on Monday that showed nothing out of the ordinary in his surgically repaired right elbow, which stiffened on the final pitch of his last start. He remained confident Wednesday that his injury was not serious, but with his next start -- which, because of off-days, would not come until June 30 or July 1 -- in doubt, the Brewers may opt to bring someone in. "We may have to," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who played Wednesday's game with only four bench players and a worn-out relief corps. The Brewers have a number of roster moves pending. Infielder Cesar Izturis, currently at Triple-A Nashville rehabbing a hamstring injury, was scheduled to rejoin the Brewers on Friday in Chicago. First baseman Travis Ishikawa (rib cage) was scheduled to return Saturday. And right-hander Marco Estrada (quadriceps) was to throw 75 pitches in one last Triple-A start on Thursday before rejoining the Brewers' rotation in Cincinnati on Tuesday. Marcum, meanwhile, will remain shut down until Friday. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008, but said the current setback is more like '10, when he spent the All-Star break on the DL and missed only one start. "Everybody is confident that the ligament is good to go," said Marcum, who is 5-3 with a 3.39 ERA in 13 starts.
Brewers send prospect Thornburg to Triple-A
MILWAUKEE -- It turns out that Milwaukee was only a pit stop on Tyler Thornburg's path from Double-A Huntsville to Triple-A Nashville.A day after Thornburg's big league debut, the Brewers optioned their 23-year-old pitching prospect to Nashville, where he was already headed before a two-day stop at Miller Park for a spot start against the Blue Jays. Thornburg pitched 5 1/3 innings for a no-decision, an experience he believes will make him better in the future. "I would much rather this happened than not happened," Thornburg said. "Now I can go back to Triple-A and work on some things that I need to do here." He was asked the biggest difference between Double-A and the big leagues. "The best hitters in the Minor Leagues are those three and four guys; it's one through nine here," he said. "So you really have to bear down on every pitch of every batter." A Brewers spokesperson said the team would make a corresponding move on Thursday's off-day, and manager Ron Roenicke indicated it would be for a bullpen arm. That means the Brewers will have to make another series of moves if, as planned, they activate shortstop Cesar Izturis from the disabled list on Friday, and first baseman Travis Ishikawa on Saturday.
Fatigue could be reason for Aoki's mini-slump
MILWAUKEE -- Outfielder Norichika Aoki has been a Brewers bright spot this season, and manager Ron Roenicke is trying to figure out how keep it that way.Roenicke gave Aoki a day off after seeing some troubling swings in Tuesday's long loss to the Blue Jays, when the usually-pesky Aoki was 0-for-5 and saw only 17 pitches, 13 fewer than three-hole hitter Ryan Braun in the same number of plate appearances. After hitting .346 in a 22-game span from mid-May through June 7, Aoki is batting .208 in his last 11 games, including 1-for-10 in two games against Toronto. "I think he's run out of gas here a little bit," Roenicke said. The manager has had discussions with Aoki about the intense pregame routine the player imported from Japan, where players take 1,000 or more swings a day. A Japanese reporter who has been following Aoki said players sometimes take 2,000 swings a day in Spring Training. But Japanese teams also play fewer games, and get one or two days off every week. On Tuesday, the Brewers played their eighth straight game on a steamy night at Miller Park. Aoki's average has dropped to .275. "He's playing a lot, so all of a sudden I'm seeing some funny swings from him," Roenicke said. "He works so hard when he's off the field; I don't know if you can keep doing that. ... We've talked about it. You can overdo it."
Brooks Conrad briefly visited Miller Park on Wednesday morning and said he was not sure whether he would accept an outright assignment to Triple-A Nashville, if that option arises. The Brewers designated him for assignment on Tuesday, and Conrad will remain on waivers until Thursday.Conrad is hitting .405 at Nashville this season, but was 3-for-40 in two stints with the Brewers. Roenicke had a nice conversation Wednesday morning with his son, Lance, who followed an 0-for-4 professional debut with a 4-for-4 game on Tuesday with rookie-level Helena. The younger Roenicke was Milwaukee's 25th-round Draft pick. Baseball America's terrific First-Year Player Draft database shows the Brewers still have $248,400 left to spend before they reach their allotment for picks in the first 10 rounds, and two unsigned players: Hard-throwing University of Oklahoma right-hander Damien Magnifico, the team's fifth-round selection, and Puerto Rican prep outfielder Edgardo Rivera, an eighth-rounder. Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid spoke very highly of Magnifico after the Draft. That selection -- 185th overall -- called for a $209,900 bonus under guidelines set in baseball's new Collective Bargaining Agreement.