MILWAUKEE -- Chris Capuano was happy with the results of his simulated game on Wednesday morning, and will be even happier when he rejoins the Brewers' rotation next Tuesday in Pittsburgh. Capuano has been on the disabled list with a left groin strain since being scratched from a June 13 start in Detroit minutes before his scheduled first pitch. Wednesday marked his final rehab hurdle, and Capuano followed his usual pregame routine before facing outfielders Gabe Gross and Kevin Mench and pitchers Dave Bush and Claudio Vargas over five simulated innings. Capuano rested for five to 10 minutes between each "inning" and threw about 75 total pitches. "I tried to make it as game-like as I could," Capuano said.
It was hot and humid at Miller Park even before a noontime rainstorm forced stadium officials to close the roof. Capuano rested in the air conditioned dugout tunnel between innings and at one point was treated for a blister on his toe. He also felt a "hot spot" developing on the middle finger of his pitching hand, but said there was plenty of time to toughen up the skin on his finger in time to start against the Pirates. "Certainly no arm strength problems," Capuano said. "My arm felt strong, like I could have kept going." Could a midseason break be a good thing? "I think so," Capuano said. "Mentally and physically, your body definitely feels fresher when you have a little break. That's what you have to do when you have things like this happen -- look at the positives, recharge your batteries and get ready to go." Capuano is 5-5 with a 4.35 ERA this season but has lost each of his last five decisions. Line 'em up: After Capuano passed his test, Brewers manager Ned Yost lined up his starting rotation through the All-Star break. Yovani Gallardo will start Friday's series opener against the Cubs, then will report for bullpen duty until further notice. Ben Sheets will start Saturday in Chicago and Yost named Dave Bush to start Sunday over Claudio Vargas. In Pittsburgh, beginning July 2, it will be Jeff Suppan followed by Capuano, Vargas and Sheets. Bush, Suppan and Capuano will then pitch in Washington as the Brewers finish the first half. "We'll kind of re-evaluate things at the break," Yost said. The most pressing question seems to be what to do with Gallardo. He pitched well in both of his starts since a promotion from Triple-A Nashville, but Yost believes that some time in the bullpen could help keep Gallardo's 21-year-old arm fresh for August and September. "There's a lot of guys doing a great job right now," Capuano said. "Having too many guys for a limited number of starts, that's a great thing. If we have six guys for five spots all year, I think everybody is going to be pretty happy." Window shopping: Brewers general manager Doug Melvin would not comment on a report Tuesday by MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan that the Brewers are among six teams showing interest in right-handed Rangers reliever Akinori Otsuka. Citing Major League officials, the report said the Brewers, Braves, Indians, Mets, Phillies and Tigers are looking into Otsuka, 35, who suffered a blown save Tuesday night but got the win when the Rangers rallied to beat the Tigers. Otsuka entered Wednesday with a 2.64 ERA and a .205 opponents' batting average in 32 appearances. Melvin typically does not discuss specific players of interest, but did say the Brewers would look to add to their overall depth before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, particularly in the bullpen. "That's what we have focused a little bit on, just because over the course of a year bullpens have a tendency to get overworked in today's game," Melvin said. "Baseball must be at an all-time low for complete games by starters, and because of that you're looking at 15 innings every five days if the starters go six innings. That's where depth comes in." The Brewers have looked particularly at adding left-handed relief, "But I don't see that guy being available," Melvin said. Good deed: Outfielder Geoff Jenkins hosted more than 1,700 kids from the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee on Wednesday at Miller Park. It's the third straight season that Jenkins' annual contribution of $20,000 to Brewers Charities is being directed to kids from local YMCA chapters. On deck: The Brewers will travel to Chicago Thursday night and will take on the Cubs beginning Friday at 1:20 p.m. CT. Gallardo will face Cubs left-hander Rich Hill in the opener of a three-game series.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.