MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers got their first dose of Interleague Play on Tuesday, when the Rangers came to town for a quick two-game series. Milwaukee will be less affected than many clubs by the schedule changes enacted this year.
The Astros' move to the American League meant the start of year-round Interleague games. The Angels opened their season in Cincinnati, for example, and the Tigers will finish in Miami. For those clubs, used to employing a designated hitter, it meant playing significant games under significantly different rules.
But the Brewers' Interleague slate is not much different than usual. Besides these two home games against Texas, they play four games against Minnesota from May 27-30 (the first two at home and the second two in Minneapolis), three against the A's at home from June 3-5, three in Houston from June 18-20, three in Seattle from Aug. 9-11, two in Texas on Aug. 13-14 and at home against the Angels from Aug. 30-Sept. 1.
"It's not so different here, because we play National League rules, but going on the road with a DH will be different," manager Ron Roenicke said. "I don't know if preparing for them is that much different."
With year-round Interleague Play further blurring the once stark lines between the AL and NL, some have wondered if baseball will someday make the designated-hitter rule universal.
Roenicke was asked for his take on that topic.
"I'll get myself in trouble, probably, answering that," said Roenicke, who gave it a try anyway. "I think, for one, if they go to one or the other, it sounds like they would lean toward the DH. Being in the National League, when you enjoy the strategies of it, it makes me kind of not want to go that way. I understand if you get a DH, the union likes it, because you get another guy in the lineup, a big basher. But I enjoy the National League game."
Those are issues to be debated later. On Tuesday, Roenicke was mostly focused on a tough Rangers team.
"They're pitching well, too, but their offense, they can outslug you, and they've been doing it for at least 10 years now," Roenicke said. "Fantastic offense."
Fiers, Rodriguez report to Brewers' Class A affiliate
MILWAUKEE -- Privacy considerations prevented the Brewers from providing details, but a family matter was behind right-hander Mike Fiers' move from Triple-A Nashville to Class A Advanced Brevard County on Tuesday. Fiers' family lives only a few hours south along Florida's east coast from the Manatees' home.
"He has a personal issue that he needs to be around home, so we're trying to accommodate him," assistant general manager Gord Ash said. "He will pitch there [on Wednesday], and we're hoping it's just once, but we're not 100 percent. It serves the purpose for this week, but we're hopeful that he will make his next start back at Nashville. We'll see how circumstances play out, but I certainly wouldn't categorize it as a demotion."
To the contrary, Fiers has thrown the ball well since being sent down to the Minors after one Major League start. He allowed only three earned runs in his first 17 Triple-A innings for a 1.59 ERA, with 17 strikeouts and a .197 opponents' average.
Also headed to Brevard County was reliever Francisco Rodriguez, who threw a scoreless eighth inning there on Tuesday, with a walk and two strikeouts. The right-hander is scheduled to pitch again on Thursday and Saturday before the Brewers consider a promotion to Triple-A Nashville.
The Brewers, who signed Rodriguez to a Minor League deal on April 17, have until the middle of this month to decide whether he fits in the big league bullpen. If they do not promote him to the Majors within 30 days of his signing, Rodriguez can elect for free agency again.
Rodriguez had been throwing in extended spring training until now, because he just obtained a work visa last week. If the Brewers add him to the Major League roster, Rodriguez will earn a prorated portion of a salary just above $2 million.
"At this point, he's only thrown bullpens and batting practice, so we have no real measurements," Ash said. "But he looks fine."
Aramis on track for first back-to-back action
MILWAUKEE -- Assuming his still-healing left knee holds up, Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez will play his first back-to-back games this week since returning from a month-long stint on the disabled list.
Ramirez was back in the lineup Tuesday against the Rangers and hit his first home run of the season in the seventh inning of the Brewers' 6-3 win. He's also expected to play Wednesday before another off-day in the schedule on Thursday allows for another day of rest.
After playing six innings in each of his first two starts off the DL as a precaution, Ramirez played through the seventh on Tuesday.
"It's going to take a little bit for him to not be sore the next day, and to play nine [innings every day]," manager Ron Roenicke said. "I don't know if that's going to be on the road trip; I don't know when we're going to be able to do that.
"He doesn't like coming out of the game. I talk to him before the game a lot to make sure that when it comes that time, there's not a big argument. He doesn't want to come out."
Ramirez's home run did come one at-bat too late. He batted with the bases loaded in the fourth inning and struck out before going deep with the bases empty three innings later.
"I just liked his swings," Roenicke said.
Burgos to work out of bullpen for time being
MILWAUKEE -- Hiram Burgos was available in the Brewers' bullpen for the first time on Tuesday. The rookie right-hander was temporarily bumped from the starting rotation because a pair of off-days within a span of four days this week necessitated only four starting pitchers.
The bullpen bench was not foreign to the 25-year-old, who was 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA (one earned run in 13 innings) in three relief appearances for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.
"I've been there before," Burgos said. "I'm just going to be ready. I totally understand [the reasoning behind the move], and I'm good with it. Whenever I get the chance, I'm going to do my job, and that's it."
Burgos was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in his first three Brewers starts and exited all three games in line for the victory. He could slot back into the rotation on May 12 at Cincinnati or May 14 at Pittsburgh, depending on whether the Brewers opt to keep Wily Peralta and Kyle Lohse on schedule or give them an extra day of rest.
• Former first-round Draft pick Mark Rogers made an abrupt exit during his fifth Minor League rehab appearance at Double-A Huntsville on Tuesday, according to that team's Twitter feed. Rogers surrendered a home run to the first batter he faced, walked the second on four pitches and then exited with athletic trainer Steve Patera after falling behind, 2-0, to a third hitter. He threw nine pitches in all, only one for a strike.
The fifth overall pick in the 2004 Draft, Rogers has been pitching in the Minors to regain the velocity that eluded him in Spring Training and cost him a shot at a spot in the Brewers' starting rotation.