Jones headed for DL with shoulder soreness

Brewers hopeful of Rule 5 pick earning roster spot

Jones headed for DL with shoulder soreness

MESA, Ariz. -- Rule 5 Draft pick Zack Jones will get his month-long audition for a spot in the Brewers' bullpen. It just won't be the month everyone anticipated.

Sidelined for most of March by a sore right shoulder, Jones will open the regular season on the disabled list, manager Craig Counsell said Friday. When Jones is healthy, a 30-day rehab assignment will afford the team the time it needs to decide whether to add Jones to the big league roster or offer him back to the Twins.

Injury concerns for Smith, Braun

"He's had a lot of starts and stops this spring," Brewers general manager David Stearns said. "I think he's wanted to get this going probably a little faster than his body is allowing him to get going, which is understandable. So we need to back off a little bit, make sure that he's really healthy, then ramp him up in an appropriate manner and get him ready for the season."

Jones on offseason, new club

Jones and the Brewers had hoped that ramp-up would begin Thursday, when Jones made his long-awaited Cactus League debut by working the ninth inning of a win over the Royals.

But while there was not a setback, club officials said Friday that the outing did not represent a step forward, either.

"We're not going to be able to get him ready for the season," Counsell said. "He's still having a little trouble bouncing back, so we're going to have to go slow with him."

Said Stearns: "In order to be a reliever at the Major League level, you need to be able to go back-to-back and to be able to go one-plus [innings]. It became pretty clear to us that he was not going to be able to do that in the time frame we needed him to.

"[Placing him on the DL] gives him the opportunity to go through a natural progression of what a Major League reliever would go through and make sure he's not putting himself at additional risk. Then, we'll take it from there."

In a conversation with a reporter before Counsell indicated Jones would hit the DL, Jones said he was "happy, physical-wise" with Thursday's outing against the Royals, in which he surrendered a leadoff home run, then a single, before recovering to finish a 9-2 Brewers win.

"It's a good ground base for me to work off of," Jones said.

That work will extend into April.

"Understandably, he looked at this as a very compressed and expedited tryout -- one of the biggest of his life," Stearns said. "He did everything he could to get himself back on the field. We want to make sure that neither we nor he is putting his future in jeopardy and that we do this in an appropriate time frame." 

The Brewers have two bullpen jobs up for grabs as Spring Training enters its home stretch, though another could open if left-hander Will Smith's swollen right knee proves serious.

Last call

Brett Phillips, MLBPipeline.com's No. 2 Brewers prospect, served as the designated hitter for Double-A Biloxi for a second straight game Friday as he continues working back from a left oblique strain. Stearns said Phillips should make his outfield debut in a matter of days.

• As of Friday afternoon, right-hander Yhonathan Barrios was still formulating a plan to combat the shoulder injury that derailed his bullpen bid. The Brewers recommended one course of action last week, and Barrios exercised his right to seek a second opinion.

Whatever plan emerges, Barrios faces an extended absence and could open the season on the 60-day disabled list.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.