First Suppan is “Injured”, Could Now Be #5 Starter


By: Melissa S. Wollering

It was a genius idea. Come out of the locker room with an ice pack on your neck towards the end of Spring Training. Report pain, receive treatment. It opened the door for the Milwaukee Brewers to put Jeff Suppan on the 15-day Disabled List. Now, Manager Ken Macha says Suppan could be named the #5 starter just in time for next week’s Brewers/Cubs series at Wrigley. And just when we were all looking forward to seeing his name on the 60-day DL…

The reason it was genius is because it kept Manny Parra, Chris Narveson and Carlos Villanueva all on the roster. Mind you, Parra and Narveson were pushed to the bullpen, but Vanillawafer might have been a goner. Now poor Carlos might be the most vulnerable to a roster move.

Jeff Suppan started reporting pain in his neck (cervical disk) but didn’t mention it to the media until the very end of Spring Training. The Milwaukee Brewers backdated his DL stint to March 26th. If Suppan joins the rotation, it could come as soon as next Wednesday in Chicago.

First, Supp will start Friday for Class A ball to warm up in the minors. This past Sunday, he threw more than 100 pitches in a simulated game and says his neck is feeling better. The Brewers schedule allowed them to name four starters in their pitching rotation but their first consecutive five game stint starts next Wednesday.

Macha probably wants to split up lefties Wolf and Davis in the rotation because he says he’d like to use backup catcher George Kotteras with one or both of those veterans. Gregg Zaun would likely catch for Gallardo, Bush and the fifth starter on a regular basis, giving him days off between some outings.

Out of Supp, Parra and Narveson, Narveson had the best spring of the three, pitching 13 scoreless innings in exhibition.  Ken Macha says that wasn’t all he based his decision on, instead considering’s Supp’s history of being a starter and only a starter.  Macha stopped short of saying his $12.5 million salary mattered, saying bullpen or starter it would not have mattered. But it makes you wonder whether they ever considered cutting Supp.

Macha indicated that Narveson and Parra would be kept in the bullpen, meaning another move will have to be made to activate Suppan. Reliever Carlos Villanueva, who has a minor-league option, would be vulnerable to a roster move.

The only saving grace for Supp Anti-fans; Macha said Suppan isn’t locked into the Number 5 spot permanently and that Narveson and/or Parra might get a shot yet this season. Macha says he’ll hold the #5 starter to his production, which may write the story in and of itself. Suppan’s middle name was not Production in Spring Training, with a 7.71 ERA, 21 hits, 14 runs, 6 BB’s and only 10 K’s.

What should be interesting is how Suppan responds and whether his neck discomfort will be equal and in proportion to any potential decrease in production over the next several weeks. Either way, we’ll all be monitoring it more closely now, courtesy of the return of this week’s Chart Magnificence. Oh yeah, it’s back. And if Suppan’s been faking this whole time, someone buy me a cookie.


  1. paulmbanks says

    This may be the best “Chart Magnificence” ever. The activating and independent variable is properly on the x axis. and the dependent or responding variable is on the y

    You used that picture from spring training I liked so much- nice!

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