CINCINNATI -- With a 12-man bullpen, the Brewers have ample arms to cover their current stretch of 17 games in as many days. So it was mostly for Michael Blazek's peace of mind that the right-hander took the mound at Great American Ball Park and faced hitters in an effort to get back to active duty himself.
Blazek, sidelined since mid-August with a right forearm injury, threw a simulated game on Monday afternoon, with catcher Andrew Susac and assistant hitting coach Jason Lane taking turns in the batter's box. Barring a setback in the wake of the exercise, Blazek will do it again later this week at Wrigley Field before the Brewers activate him from the disabled list.
"Everything felt good coming out. Fastball felt pretty good, offspeed felt really good," Blazek said. "It was at the point where I wasn't even thinking about the arm."
Brewers manager Craig Counsell called Blazek's session "another step in the right direction."
"It's really to go into the winter healthy," Counsell said.
The Brewers reinstated Blazek from the disabled list on Sept. 3 after rosters expended, even though he can't pitch. He appeared as a pinch-runner and scored his first career run during the team's just-completed series in St. Louis.
His absence from the relief corps has been felt of late while fellow right-hander Corey Knebel has faltered, leaving Counsell with many other choices, but few with any significant late-inning, high-leverage experience in the Major Leagues. Blazek has filled that role in recent seasons, including last season when he posted a 2.45 ERA in 45 games (24 of which qualified as medium- or high-leverage) and earlier this year when he owned a 2.31 ERA through his first 24 games.
But his season headed south after Blazek surrendered five earned runs in two-thirds of an inning May 28 against the Reds. He went on the DL with a right elbow injury, and while he was able to return to action about three weeks later, it was in a diminished capacity. Opponents hit .338 against him from June 21-Aug. 13, pushing Blazek's ERA for the season to its current 5.58.
Blazek has one pre-arbitration season remaining, meaning he will be a cost effective relief option for the Brewers in 2017.
He is eager to head into the offseason healthy.
"I would like to get a couple of innings healthy, like I was at the start of the season," Blazek said. "It would help me end on a good note, mentally."
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.