Gennett returns after DL stint; Rivera optioned

Gennett returns after DL stint; Rivera optioned

MILWAUKEE -- Scooter Gennett's return from the 15-day disabled list on Thursday was essentially a foregone conclusion. The corresponding move was not.

To make room for Gennett, who was back at second base for the opener of a four-game series against the Padres, the Brewers optioned Spring Training standout Yadiel Rivera to Triple-A Colorado Springs. The Brewers believe Rivera, ranked No. 22 on MLBPipeline.com's list of the Brewers' top prospects, will benefit from more regular at-bats with the SkySox, for whom he will primarily man second base.

Working against Rivera was the fact he could be optioned to the Minors. That was not the case for the Brewers' two other infield backups: Hernan Perez, who is out of options and has had some success against left-handed pitchers, and Rule 5 Draft pick Colin Walsh, who must remain on the active roster or be offered back to the A's.

"We're at the point where we want 'Yadi' to get more consistent playing time," GM David Stearns said. "With Scooter coming back, we didn't think that was going to happen here. He's so young. He has such a bright future ahead of him, specifically defensively."

The 24-year-old Rivera batted .196 in 17 games in 2016, mostly off the bench. Entering the season, the Brewers expected him to see significant at-bats as a platoon partner at second base with Gennett, and as a backup to shortstop Jonathan Villar.

That didn't happen, because both Gennett and Villar performed above expectations.

"[Villar] has earned everyday playing time," manager Craig Counsell said. "I don't know if that was the plan [entering the season], but he's certainly earned those at-bats."

The decision to send down Rivera represented continued commitment to Walsh, who entered Thursday with a robust .327 on-base percentage despite an .098 (4-for-41) batting average. Per Rule 5 Draft rules, Walsh must log 90 days on the active roster to be Brewers property beyond this season. As of Thursday, the Brewers were nearing the halfway mark of that timetable.

If they have kept him this long, is it a certainty the Brewers will see it through with Walsh?

"Look, I think we're going to constantly re-evaluate our roster throughout the course of the season," Stearns said. "I do not think it's a certainty. I think what he's done so far this year is demonstrate a very consistent, professional approach. That's an important part of being a Major League player.

"Obviously, there are other components to that. I don't necessarily think just because we have had a player on the roster to this point in the season means that we must keep him on the roster for the duration. I think the evaluation process is ongoing."

Gennett had been on the DL with right oblique tightness. He returned to the Brewers after a two-game rehabilitation assignment with Class A Brevard County.

"I did everything I would do normally," Gennett said. "I dove, I ran around the bases, I hit, I threw, I stole and slid headfirst. Really, there's nothing I'm worried about or tentative about. ... I think that little stint when I was off in Spring Training [with a sore throwing shoulder] and then came back and did pretty well was kind of a confidence booster for this."

The 26-year-old is batting .258 with a .361 on-base percentage and four home runs in 18 games for the Brewers.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. 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.