Capuano finishes strong, despite early exit

Capuano finishes strong, despite early exit

MILWAUKEE -- The good news for Chris Capuano was that his left elbow, the subject of two Tommy John surgeries, was feeling better than ever. The bad news was that Capuano's comeback season probably ended with him walking off the field Sunday with an athletic trainer at his side.

Capuano's start against the Marlins in the Brewers' home finale, scheduled to be his last start this season, was cut short when he tweaked a left groin muscle that's been bothering him for weeks. Capuano settled for six very strong innings in a 7-1 win that capped an inspiring comeback from two years lost to injury.

"I told myself I wanted to finish this year healthy and in the starting rotation, and I'm happy and I feel blessed that my arm feels absolutely great," he said. "A lot of good things came from this year for me."

Sunday marked Capuano's fourth consecutive quality start -- an outing of at least six innings with three or fewer earned runs. At 72 pitches through the end of the sixth, he had allowed only one Marlins run on four hits, and he appeared poised to pitch seven full innings for only the second time this season.

But that groin injury, for which Capuano has received daily treatment from the medical staff, started acting up after he dove for a batted ball in the bottom of the sixth. After a discussion with assistant athletic trainer Dan Wright, manager Ken Macha called for reliever Brandon Kintzler.

"I kind of felt it grab a little bit," Capuano said. "I saw the doctor and it actually feels pretty good right now. I knew it was going to bug me a little bit for the rest of this year, because it's one of those things that won't go away until you rest it."

Now he'll have plenty of time.

An 18-game winner for the Brewers in 2006 and an All-Star in '07, Capuano re-injured his surgically-repaired left elbow during Spring Training in '08, and didn't pitch again in the Majors until this June. He is a free agent for the first time after this season and has yet to consider where he will begin '11.

"I haven't talked to my agent about it, haven't really talked to my family about it," Capuano said. "This year, [after] having a setback in Spring Training, the goal was to get back to the big leagues and feel healthy. I haven't thought about being in this position yet. We'll go home, talk about it and see what our options are."