By Danny Mehigan
It’s unofficially official that Carlos Villanueva will be the Brewers’ closer to start the season. It was assumed once Salomon Torres retired over the winter that Chuck V would take his spot, but the signing of Hoffman bumped Villanueva to a regular bullpen role. But then Hoffman’s injury sent Villanueva back into the closer’s role. An den, an awful start to the spring (seven appearances, 7.94 ERA) re-opened the conversation as Seth McClung and Todd Coffey were considered for the spot.
But after a few strong outings in the last week by Villanueva, Ken Macha has pretty much given him the job. It helps that McClung might be needed in the starting rotation thanks to lingering injuries to Braden Looper and that Todd Coffey just isn’t very good anymore. However, just to make sure that nobody knows what’s happening, there’s a chance Dave Bush will close on Opening Day if the Crew have a late lead. That’ll be due to the weird opening week schedule in the majors, as spring training ends and teams have an unusual amount of off days, so Bush will need to get some work in before pitching on April 11 against the Cubs.
So even though the news about Hoffman has been timidly good this week – he played catch for the first time in ten days, he still hasn’t actually pitched since March 13. He’ll probably spend the first week or two of the regular season in AAA Nashville or in Appleton with the single-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers to get some rehab work. That, and filling out AARP paperwork for his old ass. Anyone still hype to hear “Hell’s Bells” for the first time at Miller Park will have to wait just a bit longer … but as they say, good things come to those who wait. I think.