CINCINNATI -- On a busy day for the Brewers, the team reinstated center fielder Bill Hall from the disabled list and used him in the starting lineup against the Reds, batting fifth. To make room, the team optioned outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. back to Triple-A Nashville, deciding to stick with 13 pitchers for a scheduled doubleheader in St. Louis on Saturday. It was the second time this season that Gwynn was sent back to the Minors. "I totally understand why they went with 13 [pitchers]," a disappointed Gwynn said. "It makes perfect baseball sense to me. This time around, it doesn't surprise me as much as the first time."
Hall returned one day shy of three weeks since he suffered a sprained right ankle in a game at Pittsburgh. But instead of activating him and returning to a five outfielder alignment, the Brewers chose to keep four outfielders and 13 pitchers. About an hour after formally activating Hall, the Brewers bolstered the bullpen by acquiring right-hander Scott Linebrink from the Padres. They will have to make another move when Linebrink joins the team Friday, but likely will stick with 13 pitchers at least through the weekend. "Pitching depth was really the main factor here," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "I told [Gwynn] that the shuttle is no fun, but we don't shuttle too many players in and out like some clubs do. It's tough for young players to understand, sometimes." But Gwynn handled the news with the same class so often shown by his father, who will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. The younger Gwynn was supposed to play in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader before missing the next two games to attend the ceremonies. Instead, he traveled back to Milwaukee on Wednesday night and was hoping to join his dad in Cooperstown a bit earlier than expected. He will join the Nashville team on Monday. In 59 games and 113 at-bats this season, Gwynn was batting .274 with 12 runs scored and eight stolen bases in nine attempts. He made the big league club out of Spring Training, but was optioned to Nashville on June 18 to get more consistent playing time, and was recalled on July 6 after Hall was injured. "He's played the way we expected him. He's a good big league player," Melvin said. "He does things to help you win ballgames that sometimes aren't in the box scores." Said Gwynn: "I think I have exceeded expectations for most people, at least to the organization's standards." What about his own? "No, I'm behind my own expectations," he said. "But with the at-bats I have had, I think I've held my own. I'm just going to try to improve." A number of other teams have inquired on Gwynn's availability, but Melvin has held off because of the difficultly developing quality center fielders. For his part, Gwynn vowed to be back. "I know, given the opportunity, given the at-bats, that I can be successful with this club," he said. "But it's a numbers game. The fact I know I can play at this level keeps me going. It keeps me active, keeps me wanting to put in the hours and the work. I know I can play. And more importantly, they know." Hall back: Who knew that you could travel to Cincinnati in late July to beat the heat? That's what Hall did. He played two games in the Arizona rookie league to test the strength of his right ankle, playing six innings on Monday and then a full game on Tuesday. Even though the league begins games at 10:30 a.m. local time, it was scorching hot. "Yesterday, there was cloud cover and it was raining, so it was only 105 [degrees]," Hall said. "The day before, 118-120. I have no idea how they do it." He accomplished what he needed to during his brief rehab stint, even though he went 1-for-6. "You can't simulate some of the stuff you do in a game with treatments and exercises," he said. "I had to make sure that it was ready to go, and I think I got that accomplished." Hall entered Wednesday's game batting .271 this season with nine home runs and 38 RBIs. He was the Brewers' club MVP last season, when he belted 35 homers with 85 RBIs. Braun out: Third baseman Ryan Braun was out of Wednesday's starting lineup after feeling a "grab" in a muscle near his right rib cage on Tuesday night. "At this point, I would rather take a day now so it doesn't become something serious and I have to miss more than a day," Braun said. "If I needed to, I would play." Manager Ned Yost was looking to give Braun a break, anyway. Before Wednesday, Braun had started 52 of the Brewers' 53 games since his May promotion from Nashville. "My body feels fine," he said. "Any time you can get a day it's nice to take advantage of it and let the body recuperate a little bit, but I'm not needing it." With Braun out, and the slumping Corey Hart and J.J. Hardy getting a second straight day of rest, Yost and bench coach Dale Sveum met for 10 minutes to determine who would bat third. They settled on outfielder Kevin Mench. "Mench has been swinging the bat OK, and he doesn't strike out," Yost said. Hart, Hardy and Braun all are expected back in the lineup Thursday, when left-hander Bobby Livingston is scheduled to start for Cincinnati. Braun is hitting lefties at a .509 clip (28-for-55). "I like those guys," Braun joked. On deck: Livingston will be matched up against Brewers right-hander Dave Bush, who has produced three consecutive quality starts of six or more innings and three or fewer earned runs.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.