PITTSBURGH -- While the Brewers headed out for their most important road trip of the season, Mat Gamel headed home for the winter. Gamel, sidelined since May 1 with an injury to his right knee that required season-ending surgery, packed his bags on Sunday and headed home to Jacksonville, Fla., to continue his rehabilitation.
The Brewers hope that he'll be ready to play in the Dominican Winter League.
Before departing, Gamel said that he was open to the idea of playing winter ball, but the team for which he played last year -- Estrellas -- is full, so he will need to find a new club. Manager Ron Roenicke explained the decision to send Gamel home. "This rehab thing is really hard," Roenicke said. "It's hard mentally. The physical part, you know what you have to deal with, but the mental part is hard. Alex [Gonzalez, who had a similar injury], went home from the get-go, but Mat's been going at this hard, and he's at a point now where we're comfortable where he is, and to get home and relax a little bit [is beneficial]." Gamel will continue his rehab with a club-approved specialist. After beginning this season as the Brewers' Opening Day first baseman, Gamel finds his future in limbo again. Corey Hart has assumed that position and will probably remain there in 2013, the final year of his contract, and Hunter Morris, the Brewers' No. 8 prospect and 2012 Minor League Player of the Year, is likely to man first at Triple-A Nashville. Where does that leave Gamel? Probably as a utility option, as he has experience at first base, third base and in the outfield. "He told me, 'I want to be in the big leagues. I don't care what it takes, where I play. I want to be on your team,'" Roenicke said. "I think that's a good attitude. He's shown he can hit in Triple-A, and we'll see what he can do in the Major Leagues. I think his mind-set has probably changed a little bit, too, because of circumstances with the injury."