Arcia making impact with sparkling defense

Arcia making impact with sparkling defense

TORONTO -- Orlando Arcia isn't hitting, but he is asserting himself as an elite defender, Brewers manager Craig Counsell said Wednesday.

Take Tuesday, when Arcia went 0-for-4 and needed a groundout in his final at-bat to avoid his first four-strikeout game -- but he made a pair of highlight-worthy plays in critical moments of a 4-3 win over the Blue Jays at sold-out Rogers Centre.

"I think the impact is really starting to be felt defensively," Counsell said.

Arcia's impact was felt from Toronto's first hitter Tuesday. Devon Travis hit a grounder up the middle, which Arcia converted to an out with what his Minor League teammates call his signature move. In one fluid motion, Arcia fielded the ball, spun and fired a throw to first base.

In the seventh, with nobody out and Toronto's Ryan Goins at first base, Travis hit a chopper over the mound. Arcia gloved it, and without using his free hand, flipped the baseball backhanded to Jonathan Villar covering second base. The play changed the complexion of the inning for Brewers reliever Jacob Barnes.

On the Toronto television broadcast, analysts debated whether Arcia handled that play wisely.

"It's the right play if it's an out, yeah," Counsell said with a smile. "Orlando is a risk-taker at shortstop, but that's why he's a good shortstop -- because he takes risks and completes plays. He did that play last year in Cincinnati, and did not complete the play. He remembers that, if you ask him about it.

"I think you have to let gifted players take risks. That's what [Tuesday's] play was about. If you're not letting them do that, you're putting a cap on them. You're limiting them. I think you have to let guys like that, who are skilled in certain areas, you have to kind of open the cage up and let them fly."

If that sounds like Counsell's comments last year about Villar's aggressive brand of baserunning, it is no coincidence.

"I think it's similar," Counsell said. "If you let him do that, I think he will make plays that will entertain us. I am confident that he will make plays that will entertain us."

And more important, Counsell said, "That's going to be his big contribution to us winning. When he gets outs that are not sure-thing outs for other shortstops, that's a big contribution."

At the plate, the contributions have been few. Arcia entered Wednesday with three hits in his first 19 regular-season at-bats. Tuesday represented his second career three-strikeout game.

"He had a rough night," Counsell said. "That happens."

Garza begins rehab assignment

In Memphis on Wednesday, right-hander Matt Garza (right groin strain) made the first of two scheduled rehabilitation starts for Triple-A Colorado Springs.

How do the Brewers plan to handle Garza's return from the disabled list?

"That news is eight days away," Counsell said.

Would they consider a six-man rotation, like the Brewers employed with success last September?

"That news is eight days away," Counsell repeated.

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.