Roenicke knows Thornburg can handle different roles

Roenicke knows Thornburg can handle different roles

MILWAUKEE -- Has one-time Brewers top prospect Tyler Thornburg been held back by yo-yoing between roles? Manager Ron Roenicke doesn't believe so.

"I know some people say that, but the whole idea is to get to the Major Leagues," Roenicke said Thursday, a day after the Brewers removed Thornburg from the big league bullpen and sent him to Triple-A Colorado Springs' starting rotation.

"If you ask these guys, 'If you can get there quicker as a reliever than as a starter, what would you rather do?' [They answer,] 'I'd rather be a reliever.' They always want to get to the big leagues.

"It's not perfect for everybody. I started my whole career in the Minor Leagues, and the day I stepped in the big leagues I was a utility player. So what's the difference? It's trying to get there and trying to stay there. So the moving around, it's pitching. It's going out there and getting batters out. I don't care if it's one inning, three innings or six innings. It's the same thing."

Thornburg has pitched in all of those roles for the Brewers in the past four seasons, serving as a late-inning setup man, a long reliever and as a starter. He's 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA in 10 career starts and 4-1 with a 3.93 ERA in 49 relief appearances.

But Thornburg, who missed most of last season with an elbow injury that did not require Tommy John surgery, was not effective in long relief to begin 2015, so the Brewers optioned him to the Minors on Wednesday and made him a starter.

"I think it's getting him straightened out," Roenicke said. "Hopefully nothing does happen. But somewhere along the line you figure something's going to go wrong with a starter, so it's nice to have a guy that we know has already done it in the Major Leagues."

In other Triple-A news Thursday, reliever Brandon Kintzler cleared waivers and was outrighted to Colorado Springs. The Brewers had designated him for assignment earlier this week.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.