Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Jim Henderson is a bit closer to being ready to return to the bullpen after being out since May 2 with inflammation in his right shoulder.
The 31-year-old reliever is taking his rehab assignment to Triple-A Nashville, according to MLB.com.
General manager Doug Melvin tried to temper any expectations on when to expect Henderson to be back with the Brewers.
He is “still a little ways away,” Melvin said.
While rehabbing, Henderson has made three appearances—two of them starts—for the Brewers in the Rookie-level Arizona League, pitching 3.2 scoreless innings while allowing three hits and striking out five with no walks.
In three appearances at Double-A Huntsville, Henderson allowed an unearned run and one hit in four innings, striking out four and walking one.
A loss of velocity in spring training cost Henderson the closer’s role he had for much of last season.
Through April, Henderson had a 3.38 ERA and 1.219 WHIP in 13 appearances and 10.2 innings, striking out 16.
He was placed on the disabled list on May 2, the day after a disastrous outing in Cincinnati. Henderson was lit up for five runs on four hits with a walk and a strikeout, retiring only two batters in an 8-3 loss to the Reds in which he took the loss.
Henderson’s ERA ballooned to 7.15 and his WHIP went up to 1.588 after that performance.
Injured right-hander Tyler Thornburg, who hasn’t pitched since June 6 because of an injured elbow, is throwing off a mound in Arizona.
“We hope to get him back at some point,” Melvin said of Thornburg.
Thornburg, 25, was tremendous in April, posting a 0.61 ERA and 0.750 WHIP in 14 appearances and 14.2 innings, fanning 17.
After that, however, Thornburg struggled, posting a 7.80 ERA and 2.267 WHIP in 15 innings and 13 appearances, striking out 11.
His last appearance was also a disaster, allowing five runs on three hits with four walks and two strikeouts in one 40-pitch inning of a 15-5 loss at Pittsburgh on June 6.
Meanwhile, left-hander Will Smith was available Saturday after he was a no-go for the second-half opener on Friday. Smith came back from the All-Star break with a stiff lower back, but after receiving treatment on Friday, said he felt much better Saturday.
“All I did over the break was play golf and sit by the pool,” Smith told MLB.com. “I play golf a lot, so there’s nothing out of the ordinary there. But I woke up Wednesday morning and I was like, ‘Oh, that doesn’t feel good.’”
Smith spent the break at his parents’ house in Georgia.
The big lefty, acquired from the Kansas City Royals over the winter, has been awful in July, allowing nine earned runs in just four innings over five appearances, a 20.25 ERA, while walking four and striking out six.
He was OK in June (a 3.14 ERA and 1.465 WHIP) in 16 appearances and 14.1 innings, posting 13 strikeouts.
That came after an almost perfect first two months, during which he had a 0.36 ERA and 1.184 WHIP in 28 appearances and 25.1 innings, striking out 36.