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Suppan sent to DL with rib-cage injury

Suppan sent to DL with rib-cage injury

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers have another hole in an already leaky starting rotation.

They placed Jeff Suppan on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a rib-cage injury, meaning Suppan will not be able to make his start in San Diego on Saturday. The team also optioned slumping infielder Bill Hall to Triple-A Nashville and recalled Hernan Iribarren, but by the end of the day still had not made a corresponding roster move for Suppan or announced who would pitch in Suppan's place against the Padres.

That Saturday starter will be followed Sunday by Carlos Villanueva, a reliever who just moved into the rotation this week and probably won't be able to go far past 80 pitches in San Diego.

Options for Saturday include Tim Dillard, who went 10-4 with a 3.66 ERA as a starter at Triple-A Nashville this season before a promotion to Milwaukee's bullpen last week. The Brewers could also dip back to the Minors for a pitcher like Mike Burns, who went 2-3 as a Brewers starter before he was sent down. Burns is scheduled to pitch Friday, so he would work Saturday on one extra day of rest.

Or the Brewers could acquire a starting pitcher ahead of Friday's 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline.

In any event, Suppan is out. He played catch Thursday morning, then was examined by head team physician William Raasch. Suppan's stint on the DL was backdated to July 28, meaning he's eligible to pitch again beginning Aug. 12.

"[Raasch] was optimistic based on how my 'catch' went today, but he felt it would be more beneficial to miss a start, possibly two, just to get it time to rest," Suppan said.

With the Brewers struggling -- they are coming off their first back-to-back wins in exactly one month and remain 9-16 in July -- it's a tough time to be hurt.

"You never want anything to happen, but it's one of those things where, if you can minimize the damage by missing a start or two, that's probably the smarter thing to do," Suppan said. "As a player, you try not to get too emotional. You tell them what's going on, be honest, and then let them make the decision."

Team off-days on Aug. 6 and 10 could help Suppan limit his missed starts. That was potentially good news for Suppan, but bad news for young starters Yovani Gallardo and Manny Parra, who are progressing toward career highs for innings. Macha said club officials have discussed ways to limit Gallardo's and Parra's workloads.

Suppan has surrendered 15 runs in 8 2/3 innings over his past two starts, including a 5 1/3-inning, 10-run, 10-hit loss to the Nationals at Miller Park on Monday. He strained the muscle in his left side on a second-inning swing during the latter outing, but insisted the next day that the tweak had nothing to do with his struggles on the mound.

In the third season of a four-year, $42 million contract with the Brewers, the richest deal in club history for a pitcher, Suppan lands on the disabled list for the second straight year. He missed two weeks last July with irritation in his right elbow.

Dave Bush, meanwhile, is making progress but remains weeks away. He played catch from about 120 feet on Wednesday and increased the distance to 150 feet on Thursday with no ill effects. Bush will travel with the Brewers on their road trip, and could sit down with members of the training staff to develop a more concrete schedule as early as Friday.

Bush has already been through this progression once. After going on the disabled list on June 23, he made a pair of Minor League rehabilitation starts in July but left an outing for Double-A Huntsville early on July 13 with the recurrence of arm fatigue. A subsequent MRI -- Bush's second in about three weeks -- showed that the muscle was healing but some micro-tears remain.

"I want to get myself back as quick as I can, but such that I can pitch effectively," Bush said. "I could show up there tomorrow and say I could pitch, and not do very well. That's not helping us either."

Before he was struck by a Hanley Ramirez line drive in Florida on June 4, Bush pitched at least six innings in five of his six May starts. The Brewers are sorely missing that kind of consistency at the moment.

"Gaining consistency is definitely something I've worked on, definitely, the last couple of years I've been here," Bush said. "You don't want to be spectacular one outing and then get roughed up the next. You want to give six, seven innings every time and give the team a chance to win. That's something I've understood more as I get older."

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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