Thornburg returns to 'pen after latest spot start

Thornburg returns to 'pen after latest spot start

Thornburg returns to 'pen after latest spot start
CINCINNATI -- It's back to the Brewers bullpen for 23-year-old pitching prospect Tyler Thornburg, who will try to find a way to keep opposing hitters in the ballpark.

Thornburg made another spot start Wednesday, this one in place of a resting Zack Greinke, and surrendered a pair of solo home runs in 4 2/3 otherwise scoreless innings. In two Brewers starts, Thornburg has surrendered seven home runs that accounted for all eight runs against him.

Why has he been so prone to the long ball?

"No clue," Thornburg said. "I think this is a stretch I'm not really used to; I've never had happen. I've worked on some pitches in the Minor Leagues to keep them off my fastball, but unfortunately, when I started being able to bring that into games, all of this roller-coaster action started happening."

It's a ride that, for the most part, he took gladly.

Thornburg made his final start for Double-A Huntsville on June 9 and was ejected for his role in a fracas. He did not pitch again until June 19, when Milwaukee needed a replacement for the injured Shaun Marcum. After that start against the Blue Jays, Thornburg was optioned to Triple-A Nashville but did not pitch there until July 4 because of a minor wrist injury.

Then the Brewers brought him back over the Major League All-Star break, and he pitched two innings against the Pirates on July 14 before Wednesday's start against the Cardinals.

That's three starts and four appearances in 30 days. Thornburg threw 103 pitches in 4 2/3 innings against St. Louis and left one out shy of his first Major League win.

"I felt pretty good out there, a little bit rusty," Thornburg said. "A couple of pitches [against the Cardinals], I could have located better and gotten earlier outs. But with the situation like that, I didn't think it was terrible."

Was he surprised the Brewers let him top the 100-pitch mark for the first time this season, considering his strange schedule over the past month?

"I was," Thornburg said. "I didn't realize I was at that pitch count when I was out there. I'm definitely happy they let me go that long."

Manager Ron Roenicke said he expected Thornburg to be ready for relief duty by Sunday.