MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers let Zack Greinke do something no Major League pitcher had done in 95 years. The result? "It didn't work," manager Ron Roenicke said.
Roenicke shouldered the blame after bumping Greinke from his scheduled start against the Cardinals on Wednesday, concurring with general manager Doug Melvin's earlier characterization of a team giving its star pitcher a chance to "recharge his batteries" following a strange stretch in which Greinke started three consecutive Brewers games nestled around the All-Star break. Rookie right-hander Tyler Thornburg will pitch Wednesday in Greinke's place, and Greinke will miss one full turn in the rotation before returning to duty on July 24 in Philadelphia. Roenicke noted that the Brewers used the All-Star break to give fellow right-hander Yovani Gallardo a similar recharge. Greinke will have gone 10 days between starts, a spell he declined to endorse in a brief question-and-answer session with reporters. Instead, Greinke asked those reporters what Roenicke had said a few minutes earlier, then said he agreed with all of it. "I don't really have much to say about it," Greinke said. "I'm just going with whatever they say. Hopefully, I come back pitching good whenever I pitch next. I don't know what he said that is." He added: "Pretty much, we talked about it, and I just said I was going to go with whatever [Roenicke] said so there's no mixed words. That's about it." Greinke's absence comes at a doubly important time for the Brewers, who on one hand are in the middle of a stretch of three consecutive series against the teams they trail in the National League Central, and on the other hand are gauging interest in Greinke on the trade market. Greinke, 28, is a free agent at season's end. Roenicke said he conferred with Melvin before altering Greinke's schedule to discuss the potential effect on his trade value, with the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31. "These games are important, but the more important thing is, we need to get him pitching right," Roenicke said. "The longer range is a lot more important than bringing him back [to pitch against] St. Louis." His unexpected downtime comes after Greinke became the first pitcher since Hall of Famer Red Faber in 1917 to start three consecutive team games in the same season. Greinke started July 7 at Houston and was ejected after four pitches, then returned to start the next day and was not sharp over three innings. He also pitched the Brewers' first game after the break on regular rest and again scuffled, allowing five earned runs on seven Pirates hits in five innings. He was the losing pitcher in the first of those games and got a no-decision in the next two. The All-Star break did not help Greinke get back on schedule because it cost him his usual between-starts bullpen session. He instead played catch with his father-in-law, according to Roenicke. Asked whether Greinke had any physical ill effects from his strange schedule, Roenicke said, "Other than not feeling right and a little fatigued, no. I can't say 'no soreness' because a pitcher always has soreness the day after. Always." But nothing unusual? "Not to where it would be a concern," Roenicke said. "I think it was just not feeling right. Out of whack." Roenicke characterized the issue as physical, and totally unrelated to Greinke's past off-the-field issues, including a stretch in 2010 with the Royals in which he admitted losing focus. "He's fine mentally," Roenicke said. "The mental part of it, he said, is not an issue." The Brewers entered Monday in fourth place in the NL Central, four games under .500 and eight games behind the first-place Reds. Roenicke said Greinke's teammates would understand that "with the long haul in a season, what you need to do to keep guys fresh and strong through the whole season. I don't think that's an issue." Whether the Brewers approached Greinke about skipping a start, or the other way around, was not clear. "I'm fine with it," Greinke said. "I don't know -- I've been just going with whatever [Roenicke] said. I don't know why you have to ask me when I say the same exact words that came out of his mouth." Was he OK missing a game against a division rival? "I want to pitch every day," Greinke said. "That's not possible."