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Villanueva not upset about not closing

Villanueva not upset about not closing

PHILADELPHIA -- Brewers reliever Carlos Villanueva said he wasn't offended when he was bumped from the interim closer's role Wednesday. Todd Coffey, not Villanueva, was handed the ball for the ninth inning of a 3-1 win over the Phillies.

Villanueva, who had previously been penciled in as the closer while Trevor Hoffman rehabs a rib-cage injury, instead pitched the eighth. He retired the top of the Phillies' lineup -- Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Chase Utley -- in order for his second scoreless inning in as many nights.

"Coffey hadn't given up a run, ever, for the Brewers until [Wednesday], so I can't argue with [using him as the closer]," Villanueva said. "He's thrown the ball real, real well. [Coaches] are going to do whatever they think is the best thing to help us win. As long as I know the situation, I'll be fine.

"If I had come into the season as the regular closer, maybe it would be a different story. But right now, we're only keeping Hoffy's spot warm."

Hoffman is scheduled to pitch again Friday in Memphis, and he could be activated by the Brewers on Sunday in Houston. Coffey and Villanueva will likely serve as setup men to Hoffman when Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader returns from the disabled list.

Coffey had not allowed a run in his first 16 appearances for the Brewers since he was claimed off waivers from the Reds last September, including his first seven games this season. He surrendered a solo home run Wednesday and then two singles, but held the lead for his second save this season.

Villanueva is 1-for-2 in his ninth-inning save opportunities. In seven games overall this season, he is 1-2 and has surrendered six runs on eight hits and three walks in eight innings for a 6.75 ERA.

"As long as I'm pitching in important innings, I'm fine," Villanueva said. "You can lose the game in the eighth inning, too, and you have to understand that. If they decided I was only going to pitch in one-sided games, then I would be mad.

"I've done the seventh, I've done the eighth and I've done the ninth. That's what I'm expecting to continue when Hoffy comes back. When that happens, I think we'll have a better routine for everybody. Everybody will know where they are going to be, and that will stabilize a lot of things."

Last year at this time, Villanueva was still one of the Brewers' five starting pitchers. He switched to relief in May and thrived in that role, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 36 games, and was considered as a closer candidate before the Brewers signed Hoffman in January to a one-year contract.

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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