Brewers acquire Graffanino from Royals

Brewers acquire Graffanino from Royals

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers took a step to shore up their injury-riddled infield on Tuesday when they acquired infielder Tony Graffanino from the Royals for left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa.

With infielders Corey Koskie and J.J. Hardy each on the disabled list -- Hardy out for the season -- the Brewers were looking for an infielder to fill a role while Koskie remained on the shelf with post-traumatic concussion syndrome.

"He can help us while we get through this injury bug right now," said Brewers GM Doug Melvin. "Hate to give up on a young arm like De La Rosa. We still think he's got a lot of potential."

Most importantly for the Brewers, the 34-year-old Graffanino will be able to fill a variety of roles throughout the infield. Tuesday's game saw three-fourths of the Brewers' Opening Day infield out because of one injury or another.

Graffanino has appeared at all four infield positions this season, batting .268 with five home runs and 32 RBIs in 69 games for the Royals. De La Rosa was 2-2 with an 8.60 ERA but has been on the disabled list with a blister since June 10th.

Meanwhile, Jeff Cirillo has been forced into everyday duty at third and said during the Brewers' recent road trip that he needed a day off and was probably best playing three or four days a week. Bill Hall has played shortstop since Hardy went down in mid-May and Rickie Weeks will likely be out until Friday with a right wrist irritation.

"[Graffanino] can play everywhere, he's a little bit like a Cirillo but he has played some shortstop," Melvin said. "We get to a point to where we might want to give Billy a day off down the stretch. He and Rickie have played a lot and it makes it a little bit tough on them too."

Koskie's return at this point is unknown and Melvin said if it goes any further, Koskie will likely have to spend some time on a rehab assignment. With Koskie in mind, plus Weeks irritation, the move became all that more important.

"It's changed dramatically in a week," Melvin said. "At the start of the year everyone was asking where Billy Hall was going to play and what are you going to do with Koskie and Hall and J.J. and how's that going to work out. Now, Tony Graffanino is a part of the club. That's the business we're in."

As for any future trades before the trading deadline, Melvin played it close to the vest. However, the Rangers have reportedly called the Brewers to express interest in slugger Carlos Lee. The Rangers seem willing to trade outfielder Kevin Mench and youthful pitchers.

"I made a lot of phone calls today, received a few phone calls but there's nothing else at this time," Melvin said. "We'll make a move if we think it will help the club."

Melvin added: "We have enough talent to stay in this thing. "[Tomo] Ohka's start the other day was very encouraging and Ben [Sheets] pitching tonight, if he can go out there and give us a good start that will be encouraging. A lot of teams are looking for starting pitchers and it's nice to know we can add two without a trade."

As a left-hander, De La Rosa was also perceived as expendable. Melvin said the Brewers looked at where they would be next season and De La Rosa appeared to be looking up at not only All-Star Chris Capuano and starter Doug Davis, but lefties Zach Jackson and Dana Eveland as well.

De La Rosa was acquired by the Brewers in the Richie Sexson trade in December 2003 and was considered one of the keys to the deal. However, De La Rosa's inability to command his pitches continually held him back from realizing his perceived potential.

It also helps the Brewers that Graffanino has familiarity with Brewers manager Ned Yost. Both were in Atlanta when Graffanino played there from 1996-98. Graffanino is expected to arrive in Milwaukee Wednesday and will be at the Brewers afternoon game against the Pirates.

"He's going to bring veteran leadership," Yost said. "He's a solid player, nothing flashy but he's a solid defender. He's a lot like Cirillo in a lot of ways. He's a smart hitter."

To make room for Graffanino, the Brewers optioned infielder Chris Barnwell to Triple-A Nashville after Tuesday's game.

John Sahly is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.