GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Top Brewers pitching prospect Mark Rogers may still end up making a start or two in place of the injured Zack Greinke, but he won't be the first to do it.
The Brewers optioned Rogers to Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday, the morning after the right-hander made a Cactus League debut against the Giants that was delayed by some early-camp stiffness in his surgically repaired shoulder. The Brewers need someone to fill in for Greinke beginning April 6, and Rogers will only be built up to about 75 pitches by then.
"We didn't feel he could be ready in time," assistant general manager Gord Ash said. "He needs to be ready the next time."
That next time the club needs a fifth starter would be April 16, then again April 26. Rogers will be considered for those assignments, depending on his progress. With Milwaukee's other pitchers working deeper into games, the club will more easily find innings and starts for him in Minor League camp.
Manager Ron Roenicke made clear that the club's decision had nothing at all to do with Rogers' outing against the Giants. He surrendered two runs on three hits, including a long home run by third baseman Pablo Sandoval, and in Roenicke's view, appeared cautious.
"It has nothing to do with [Monday]," Roenicke said. "We were pleased he went out and pitched in a game and felt healthy, and that he came out today feeling healthy. He's on one inning now and I starters are on five innings. I just don't think he's able to catch up."
Roenicke mentioned the same three candidates to start April 6 that he named previously: Fellow right-handed prospect Wily Peralta or nonroster pitchers Eulogio De La Cruz or Marco Estrada. Both De La Cruz and Estrada have appeared in Cactus League games for the Brewers, and Estrada made a spot start for them in 2010.
Besides Rogers, the Brewers returned banged-up outfielder Caleb Gindl to Minor League camp on Monday. The moves left 45 players on the big league Spring Training roster.