PITTSBURGH -- Jeff Suppan returns from a longer than usual layoff to start against the Cubs at Miller Park on Friday, and he's hoping it marks the beginning of a regular routine. The past month has been anything but routine for Suppan. He was on an every-five-days schedule in Spring Training through March 25, when he threw 4 1/3 innings against the Dodgers. But his next outing was a 100-plus pitch simulated game on March 30 that was followed by the surprising news that Suppan was headed for the 15-day disabled list with neck pain. He remained in Phoenix to throw a morning intrasquad game on April 4. Suppan rejoined the Brewers for Opening Day festivities on April 5, then made the short drive to Appleton, Wis., for a rehabilitation start with Class A Wisconsin on April 9. Then, after one extra day of rest, he was activated from the DL to start against the Cubs on April 15. And now, after two extra days of rest, he's slated to face the Cubs again on Friday.
"It will be very welcome to get into a routine," Suppan said. "It's a different challenge that you have to work through when you get off your routine." But how long will that routine last? After Friday, Suppan would start again five days later on April 28 against the Pirates, but five days after that is another off-day on May 3. The Brewers will have to decide at that point whether to push all five starters back or skip Suppan. Suppan threw his between-starts bullpen session on Tuesday at PNC Park. In his first start against the Cubs, he allowed four runs on six hits in five innings and exited with a 5-4 lead.