MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers made the difficult decision Monday to send down an outfielder batting .301 in favor of one batting .191, when they optioned Tony Gwynn Jr. to Triple-A Nashville and kept Gabe Gross on the active roster. The roster move was necessitated by the return of second baseman Rickie Weeks, who was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list after missing three weeks with soreness in his surgically repaired right wrist. "It was a tough call," said Brewers manager Ned Yost, who had been mulling the move for several days and met Monday morning with general manager Doug Melvin to finalize it. Yost said the bottom-line reason for the decision was "to get Tony some at-bats."
"When we made the decision, coming out of Spring Training ... we kept Tony over Vinny [Rottino] and over everybody else because we had a new center fielder," Yost said, referring to Bill Hall, who moved from the infield to the outfield this season. "We thought that Billy might need a break-in period where if we needed to defense for him in the seventh, eighth or ninth inning, we would have Tony. "But Billy has gotten to the stage now in his defensive development out there where we don't really need that any more. So we just thought it was best that Tony go for a little time at Nashville and get some consistent at-bats." Yost and Melvin informed Gwynn of the decision early Monday afternoon. He was professional but obviously disappointed, according to Melvin, and Gwynn dressed and left Miller Park before the clubhouse was open to reporters. Gwynn led Gross in most categories, including batting (.301 vs. 191), games played (49 vs. 42), at-bats (83 vs. 68), runs scored (10 vs. nine), RBIs (eight vs. seven) and stolen bases (six vs. one). Gross had more home runs (three vs. none) and walks (13 vs. eight). "Whoever it was that got sent down was going to be disappointed," Melvin said. Neither player has seen much action of late. Gross was 1-for-14 (.073) in June entering play Sunday and Gwynn 2-for-14 (.143). With left fielder Geoff Jenkins, center fielder Hall and right fielder Corey Hart emerging as the everyday outfield trio, whomever of Gross or Gwynn remained with the Brewers would continue to sit on the bench. The team figured that Gwynn, 24, would benefit from playing time in the Minors. He will be back, Yost said. "There's no doubt," he said. "And he is still evolving as an offensive player. That's another reason we wanted to send him down, to get him back on track and get him swinging it." Hot hand: As hinted over the weekend, Yost left Hart in the leadoff hole and batted Weeks eighth Monday. Hart batted .333 with a .429 on-base percentage in his first 48 at-bats as the leadoff man. "We want Rickie in that lineup," Yost said. "But Corey has really been doing a nice job. Because [Weeks] didn't have the benefit of a rehab [assignment] to sharpen up, we'll start there and see what happens." Yost talked to Weeks about the decision Monday afternoon. "He just wants to help the team win," Yost said. "We can do a lot of things with him there." In Derrick's defense: Yost jumped all over a reporter who asked whether Brewers setup man Derrick Turnbow had recovered from his "little bobble" in May. "For people to think that Turnbow is struggling or having nothing less than the most outstanding year, they're not informed," the skipper stewed. "They're not watching the game, or they're not understanding the game and how it's played over 162 games, and that you do go out every once in a while and have a bad game. "They're not perfect. People expect these guys to go out on the field and be perfect, and they can't be. They won't be. For the most part, these kids have played way above what anybody else has done in our league or any other league. It just totally drives me to the other side of the room when people ask those questions." Through the weekend, Turnbow had a 36.00 ERA in his three losses (two innings, eight runs) and a 1.59 ERA in 30 other appearances (28 1/3 innings, five runs). Opponents were hitting .196 against him and Turnbow allowed one run in his first eight outings in June. The manager conceded that Turnbow "really struggled" in the second half of 2006, when he had a 13.06 ERA over his final 27 appearances. But after an offseason of reflection, Turnbow has moved on, Yost insisted. "For people to be standing there like this, every time he takes the mound," said Yost, lowering his head and covering his eyes, "it's not fair. ... It does aggravate me a little bit. Sorry." Brewers on Bonds: Of course, the skipper was also asked about Barry Bonds' first visit this season to Miller Park, where the slugger carried a .373 average and six home runs in 51 at-bats into Monday's contest. His arrival is clearly a fan and media event, but it matters to Brewers players and coaches, too. "But it's not because of any other factor than he's a great player," Yost insisted. "We look at him like we look at every team's great player." Yost's Brewers have traditionally pitched to Bonds, perhaps more than the average opponent. He entered the series a career .370 hitter against Milwaukee while averaging a home run every 7.86 at-bats, by far his best rate against any National League opponent. In 2004, Brewers pitchers served up career homers Nos. 660 and 661, allowing Bonds to tie and pass his godfather, Willie Mays, for third on the all-time list. "Every time we walk him, he ends up scoring anyway, so it doesn't make any sense to walk him," Yost said. "A walk is like a home run. You look at his batting average, and even if he's hitting .400, he's still making six outs [every 10 at-bats]. If we walk him every time, he's not making any outs. "You play the odds. If it's a spot where he absolutely has an opportunity to kill you, you take your chances and walk him." On deck: Ben Sheets, who notched career strikeout No. 1,000 in his last start at Detroit, will start Tuesday night against Giants youngster Tim Lincecum. The Brewers knocked around Lincecum in a Spring Training game, but he has won two of three decisions in the regular season despite a 5.25 ERA.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.