MILWAUKEE -- In the span of only a few days, Elian Herrera has gone from a paternity list fill-in to a vital member of the Brewers' 25-man roster.
Called up on Thursday when Lyle Overbay hustled home to attend the birth of his son, Herrera's stay was extended by outfielder Logan Schafer's stint on the disabled list for a hamstring injury. Now, with potential suspensions looming for center fielder Carlos Gomez and Martin Maldonado, Herrera stands to see time as the Brewers' starting center fielder and emergency catcher.
On Monday, Herrera was a last-minute addition to Milwaukee's starting lineup when left fielder Khris Davis was scratched with the stomach flu.
"Just be ready," Herrera said of his role. "I have to be ready wherever they need me. I have to take fly balls, I have to take ground balls, and I guess I have to catch bullpens, too."
In fact, he caught rehabbing reliever Brandon Kintzler's bullpen session on Monday. The Dodgers signed Herrera as a catcher in 2003, but by 2006 he was already playing second base and other positions. In recent years, Herrera, a switch-hitter, has embraced a utility role because of the opportunities it creates.
He has not caught in a professional game since his days in the Dominican Republic, but came close last year at Triple-A Albuquerque, when the Isotopes' starting catcher suffered an injury. In the end, Herrera wasn't needed.
"He did real good today," manager Ron Roenicke said of Herrera's work with Kintzler. "So, he's our backup. And [backup infielder Jeff] Bianchi has also been catching bullpens. He's been going out and catching in between innings. So we do have options. …
"If suspensions come down, the catching part is going to be big. Center [field] is big, too. We don't have anybody else who can play center. [Ryan Braun] is really our backup center fielder if we don't have Gomez or Herrera here."
Segura dropped in Brewers' batting order
MILWAUKEE -- Hoping to ease the early-season pressure on second-year shortstop Jean Segura, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke dropped him in the batting order on Monday. Segura, who usually hits second, was originally batting seventh against the Padres, but moved up to sixth when left fielder Khris Davis was scratched with an illness.
Segura began the day batting .233 with 13 singles, three doubles and a triple. His on-base percentage was just .263, and Segura's 76.7 percent ground-ball rate led Major League regulars. He had not homered in 260 regular-season plate appearances.
"I'm hoping it relaxes him more," Roenicke said of the lineup shift. "When you're hitting second, it's an important spot. You know you're supposed to be getting on base for the three, four, five [hitters], and when you're not doing it, you're pressing.
"This guy just needs to relax and hit. He's a really good hitter, and I want him to succeed, and this is the best way to do it."
Figaro joins bullpen; Kintzler getting close
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers needed a fresh bullpen arm after battling the Pirates for 14 innings on Sunday, so they swapped Rob Wooten for Alfredo Figaro before Monday's series opener against San Diego. Wooten was optioned to Triple-A Nashville, and Figaro recalled.
Wooten's days were numbered anyway, because reliever Brandon Kintzler is due to return from the disabled list on Friday.
"It's hard when you go extra innings, and already because we've been winning, we've been using certain guys a lot," manager Ron Roenicke said. "I was looking at the sheet today, Kranny [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] and I were going over it, and certain guys have pitched a lot."
Kintzler, sidelined by a right rotator cuff strain, threw an intense bullpen session on Monday and said it went "great." He expects to throw a simulated game at Miller Park on Wednesday, and if that goes well, he will be back in the bullpen for Friday's game against the Cubs.
The reliable Kintzler's return will be very big for the Brewers, because they have yet to get comfortable using the seventh man in their bullpen, left-hander Wei-Chung Wang, a Rule 5 Draft pick who worked just twice in the team's first 19 games. Wang pitched a scoreless inning in a 4-0 loss to the Cardinals on April 14, and surrendered six runs in an 11-2 loss to the Pirates on Thursday.
By rule, if the Brewers want to get Wang into their stable of pitching prospects for next season and beyond, they must keep him in the Major Leagues all this year. That means others may have to occasionally shuttle back and forth to Nashville when a fresh arm is needed.
Wooten and Figaro have options, so they can generally go back and forth as much as the Brewers wish. Figaro last pitched on Friday for Nashville.
The Brewers could make moves this year "not just with the arms," Roenicke said, "but with the bench, also. There's times when a young guy sits on the bench for a long time and he needs at-bats, and it's a great time to flip-flop him and get some at-bats and get him going and then get him back [in the Majors]. That's the advantage of having some guys with options."
Top prospect Nelson throws seven scoreless
Right-hander Jimmy Nelson, the Brewers' No. 1 prospect and No. 81 overall, threw seven scoreless innings to lead Triple-A Nashville to a 7-0 victory Monday night at Omaha. It was the Sounds' first shutout of the season.
Nelson struck out nine and allowed just two hits and one walk to earn the win. Using his sinker, he was able to work efficiently. He generated six ground-ball outs and threw 96 pitches.
Once Nelson exited the game, left-hander Brent Leach threw two perfect innings to complete the two-hit shutout.
With his sterling start Monday, Nelson lowered his ERA to 1.80. In 25 innings this season, he has struck out 24 batters and walked seven.