Roster decisions imminent for Brewers

Santana, Garza, Knebel expected to return soon

Roster decisions imminent for Brewers

MILWAUKEE -- With a trio of players on the disabled list currently on rehab assignments in the Minors, the Brewers face a series of upcoming roster decisions -- but that's a good problem to have, says manager Craig Counsell.

Outfielder Domingo Santana (right shoulder), starter Matt Garza (right lat strain) and reliever Corey Knebel (left oblique) appeared in games for various Minor League affiliates on Tuesday as each approaches a return to the Brewers.

"We want good problems," Counsell said. "We'll take good problems like that. And it always works itself out, and will work itself out."

On Tuesday night, Santana homered in his first at-bat and scored two runs for Double-A Biloxi. In his first rehab outing, Knebel pitched a scoreless frame with a hit, a walk and two strikeouts with Class A Advanced Brevard County. Garza made his first of two scheduled starts with Class A Wisconsin and pitched a scoreless first inning before running into trouble in the second. He wound up taking the loss, surrendering two earned runs in two innings.

"[Santana] likes that park," Counsell said of MGM Park in Biloxi. "He homered there in our exhibition game, too."

The Brewers aren't rushing to make any decisions regarding which players' roster spots will be taken when the rehabbing Crew returns.

"One of the first things I learned in baseball is don't make a decision until you have to, because stuff happens," general manager David Stearns said. "And a lot of times, these decisions are made for you. So clearly, we're having discussions about it, but we're not going to make any of those decisions until we absolutely have to."

With the addition of waiver claim Neil Ramirez to the team on Wednesday, Milwaukee moved to an eight-man bullpen. That could continue with the likely return of Knebel.

"We have the ability to go to eight relievers if that's what we need to do," Counsell said. "It's never ideal, but sometimes it's necessary, and it can be helpful. When you're in a normal, functioning state, it's probably best to have seven. But there are times when eight really helps also and gets you through some periods."

Santana's return is most likely to come first, followed by Knebel and Garza.

The Brewers could return to a seven-man bullpen by demoting a reliever when they activate Santana, but then they would be carrying six outfielders. Among outfielders on the active roster, Ramon Flores and Kirk Nieuwenhuis are out of options, while Keon Broxton and Alex Presley have options remaining.

Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee.. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.