HOUSTON -- The Brewers placed right fielder Norichika Aoki on the paternity list and sent him back to Milwaukee on Wednesday after his wife, Sachi, began having early signs of labor.
Aoki traveled home to be by her side for the birth of the couple's second child, and their first son. Utility man Josh Prince was hastily summoned from Triple-A Nashville to take Aoki's place, and, assuming no complications, Aoki is expected to be back in action on Friday night at Miller Park.
"For me, personally, it's really important that a player is there," Brewers manager Ron Roencike said. "I know it's difficult when we go on the road, depending on where we are and the flights getting back. If your wife goes into labor and it's a quick labor, you may not be there for it. I really don't want that to happen [for Aoki].
"I think your family life is so important to you and how you grow as a family in the future, but I also think if you're happy in that area, if you're good in that area, you're going to play well, too. So I think any time we can do things for the players to make it easier for their families, then we try to do it."
Major League Baseball added the paternity leave list in 2011. A player added to the list must miss at least one game and as many as three.
Prince, who was previously with the Brewers from April 6-May 2, was lucky that he forgot to switch his phone to vibrate on Tuesday night, because it rang in Des Moines, Iowa at 8:30 a.m. CT Wednesday with a call back to the big leagues. During a quick layover at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, he received a text message indicating he was in line for his first Major League start.
He arrived at Minute Maid Park about 20 minutes before the team stretched for batting practice and hurriedly prepared for his latest Major League milestone.
"It is kind of hectic," Prince said. "I think once I get out there for BP it will all slow back down and be a normal day, a normal routine. I'm just in a rush to get out there."
Prince is one of the six Brewers to have made his Major League debut this season. For his first MLB start -- Prince was the left fielder -- he had about 30 family members in the stands who made the drive of less than two hours down Interstate 10 from Prince's hometown in St. Charles, La. The group included his parents, his brothers and his grandmother, whom Prince affectionately calls, "Smurf." "I'm just very appreciative to be here and get the opportunity to play the game that I love," Prince said.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.