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Nashville rotation loaded with veterans

Nashville rotation loaded with veterans

CHICAGO -- The Brewers' top Minor League affiliate is suddenly stocked with veteran starting pitchers.

Dave Bush, who was demoted over the weekend when Ben Sheets returned from a minor arm injury, made his first start for Triple-A Nashville on Wednesday. Jeff Weaver, who inked a Minor League deal with Milwaukee earlier this month, is scheduled to debut for the Sounds on Thursday.

They join a Nashville rotation that also includes right-hander Mark DeFelice, who is in his 11th professional season, and left-hander Chris Narveson, in his ninth year as a pro. The least experienced Sounds starter is Richie Gardner, a fifth-year player.

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Those veterans, Bush in particular and Weaver if he has some success, are regarded by the Brewers as an insurance policy in case another starter is needed. Sheets appears to be past his strained right triceps, but has a well-documented injury history. Another Brewers starter, lefty Manny Parra, has been inconsistent of late and has Minor League options remaining.

In a rare morning start, Bush made his first Minor League start since July 2005 and took a no-decision in the Sounds' 4-3 win over Colorado Springs on Wednesday. He allowed three runs, only one of which was earned, on three hits while striking out seven batters over six innings.

Bush was 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in four Brewers starts and was sent to Nashville on Sunday. Manager Ned Yost called it one of the more difficult roster moves he has had to make.

"But I told him I think it's going to be a real benefit to him," Yost said. "I don't see him as a .500 pitcher. I see him better than that. ...

"If I just thought he was an average pitcher or a .500 pitcher, I could just throw him in the [bullpen] and he wouldn't pitch much," Yost said. "But we're going to need him over the course of the year and he's going to be a big part of our pitching staff."

Weaver, 31, has not pitched in the Minors since he made his only career Triple-A start in 2000, when he was a 23-year-old Tigers prospect. In fact, he will be making just his eighth appearance for a Minor League team, all of them starts and only two of them above the Class A level.

He was looking for a job throughout Spring Training and finalized a contract with the Brewers on April 16, pitching a handful of games at extended camp in Phoenix to prepare to join Nashville.

Weaver's contract includes an "out" clause for mid-June. He can opt for free agency if he isn't in the Majors.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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