Hoffman expected back next Sunday

Hoffman expected back next Sunday

NEW YORK -- Brewers manager Ken Macha said Sunday he expects closer Trevor Hoffman to be activated from the disabled list in time to be available against the Astros in Houston next Sunday.

Hoffman, who signed with the Brewers as a free agent in January after spending almost the entirety of his career with the Padres, went on the DL before the regular season began due to a strained right oblique.

"Hoffman will be starting a game for [Triple-A] Nashville in Memphis on Tuesday, then pitch for them again in the middle of a game on Thursday," Macha said before the Brewers played the Mets at Citi Field on Sunday. "He should be ready to be activated next Sunday in Houston."

The manager said Hoffman will start against Memphis on Tuesday in order to have ample time to warm up. Then, on Thursday, the right-hander with 554 Major League saves to his credit will enter the game in the middle innings.

Macha would like to have had Hoffman in the bullpen from the get-go, but tried to find the positives of not having the closer available from Day 1.

"I mentioned this before, but in a way, it's maybe a little bit of a blessing," Macha said. "I know we are just 3-8. I know when you are 3-8, there aren't too many blessings. But those guys in the bullpen, I'm getting a chance to see them during the regular season.

"After Hoffman gets back, if we have the lead after six innings, I'll be able to get some kind of order to put those guys in."

There have been ample opportunities for Macha to observe and make plans.

Before Sunday's game, at least one reliever had appeared in each of Milwaukee's 11 games. Relievers had pitched 36 2/3 innings compared to 59 for the starters. The bullpen had a 4.91 ERA and opponents were batting .298 against Milwaukee's relief pitching.

Macha at this point doesn't have a reliever designated to pitch the eighth.

"How that falls, whether it's [Todd] Coffey in the seventh inning and [Carlos] Villanueva in the eighth, or the other wary around, we'll figure that out," Macha said.

Macha knows one thing for certain -- it'll be nice to have Hoffman around to make those sixth-, seventh- and eighth-inning bullpen decisions easier.

Kit Stier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.