MILWAUKEE -- Jeff Suppan's next Brewers start is in limbo after the right-hander was diagnosed with a rib-cage injury on Tuesday, potentially poking another hole in a Brewers starting rotation that is beginning to resemble a brick of Swiss cheese. An MRI scan on Tuesday afternoon revealed a strained oblique muscle along Suppan's left side, which he said was suffered during a second-inning swing in Monday's 14-6 loss to the Nationals. It's an ailment similar to the ones that struck both Braden Looper and Trevor Hoffman in Spring Training and caused prolonged absences. A club spokesperson said Suppan would be reevaluated on Thursday by head team physician William Raasch. Suppan's next scheduled start is Saturday against the Padres in San Diego.
Oblique strains often send pitchers to the disabled list, but Suppan wasn't ready to succumb to that fate. "I'm not trying to put my mind in any mindset," Suppan said after the Brewers lost again to the Nationals on Tuesday. "Going out to pitch, it wasn't affecting me. We're just going to have to wait and see. That's what they told me to do." Suppan was charged with 10 runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings in Monday's blowout loss to Washington but said the rib-cage injury wasn't affecting him on the mound. That outing came on the heels of a 3 1/3-inning start in Pittsburgh, in which Suppan surrendered five runs on seven hits. He didn't feel any worse on Tuesday, a day after suffering the injury. "The good thing is that it happened on a swing and I was able to pitch after that," Suppan said. "It wasn't affecting me." Suppan missed some time last July with irritation in his right elbow and was asked on Monday night whether any physical ailments were behind his recent slump. "Health-wise had nothing to with [it]," Suppan said on Monday. "I wasn't making pitches, I think that's what it comes down to. You have to make pitches and I think offensively we did a good job tonight. I put us in a hole and really didn't do a good job." Suppan hasn't won a start since June 12 and the Brewers are 2-6 in his outings since then. But losing him now would be another significant blow to a struggling starting rotation already missing right-hander Dave Bush, who is on the disabled list with a right triceps injury. Two others -- Seth McClung and Mike Burns -- were ineffective in their starts and removed from the rotation. Another fill-in -- Carlos Villanueva -- was tagged for five runs in four innings against the Nationals on Tuesday night. With Suppan's status in limbo and Bush still at least two weeks away, general manager Doug Melvin continued to look for sensible deals ahead of Friday's nonwaiver Trade Deadline. "We're still looking for guys who are available," Melvin said. "We'd like to get a starter. We'll have to wait a few days before we find out [about Suppan]. We'll evaluate then." Even if it's bad news, Melvin will be smart about his aggressiveness on the market. "I'm not going to go out and give up a better player just because Suppan is out," Melvin said. Melvin made a rare postgame visit to the Brewers clubhouse on Monday night to once again discuss available arms with manager Ken Macha. Melvin told coaches to "keep our chins up as much as we can," Macha said.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.