MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers will give reliever-turned-starter Carlos Villanueva at least one more opportunity to claim a spot in the starting rotation. Manager Ken Macha said Villanueva, who surrendered five runs in four innings against the Nationals on Tuesday in his first start in more than a year, will make another on Sunday in San Diego. The Brewers have few other options; Dave Bush remains on the disabled list with a triceps injury and Jeff Suppan's Saturday start is in limbo after he was diagnosed with a rib-cage strain. Asked whether Villanueva was getting another chance based on need or based on whatever positives came out of his Tuesday start, Macha responded with a grin, "Yes."
"We gave [Seth] McClung a couple of starts," Macha added. Now they will extend the same opportunity to Villanueva, who becomes the third pitcher asked to fill a spot at the back end of the Brewers' rotation after McClung (0-1 with a 12.27 ERA in his two starts) and Mike Burns (2-3, 7.20 ERA in five starts) didn't work out. Burns could return this week if Suppan's visit with a team doctor scheduled for Thursday doesn't go well. Burns is currently lined up to start Friday for Triple-A Nashville. Bush is expected to miss at least two more weeks. Macha was asked whether he was getting tired of piecing together a rotation. "That's my job, trying to put things together the best I can," Macha said. "What's tiresome is that we came into this homestand with expectations and it hasn't been a good homestand." The Brewers lost four of the first five games on the current homestand including Tuesday, when Villanueva surrendered four of his five runs in the fourth inning. He allowed eight total hits including two home runs, and threw 67 pitches. He should be able to approach the 80-pitch plateau next time out. After the Brewers' 8-3 loss, Villanueva wouldn't predict whether he would get another start. "We haven't talked about that," Villanueva said. "Like I said, I felt really comfortable. I felt pretty good. Obviously, the results are disappointing and not what anybody wanted out there, but I'll show up [Wednesday] and whatever they want me to do, I'll do it." Villanueva has pitched three times against the Padres, all in relief, with a 3.18 ERA (two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings).
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.