Jeff Suppan Claims Neck Injury, Coincidence? Or Just In Time?

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By: Melissa S. Wollering

The first four starting pitchers have been named to the Milwaukee Brewers rotation.  No surprise,  Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf, Doug Davis and Dave Bush will start in that order.  After watching Spring Training in Arizona this year, I figured that.  But I made one other prediction: if Jeff Suppan got the hint he would not be named #5, he’d fake injury rather than suffer a bruise to his pride.

I said it more in jest. Suppan, Chris Narveson and Manny Parra have all been after the fifth spot.  But Ken Macha has stated that with the Brewers’ schedule, the team doesn’t technically need to name a fifth pitcher and can work with four men, up until April 15th against the Cubs.

Enter: an ice pack.  Suppan walked out of the locker room with an ice pack around his neck for the first time Tuesday. He only pitched a simulated game and Macha confirms he is accepting treatment for it. When asked whether Suppan would be placed on the DL, Macha confirmed he’s headed there late Tuesday afternoon. Coincidence?

Could it be that my prediction made in jest has merit?  Or is Suppan really struggling with pain? Either way, Jeff Suppan might be more valuable on the DL injured, than healthy.

It also creates the ability for the Brewers to clear room on the roster for Parra while pushing Narveson to middle relief, where he has some experience. Plus, it could also save Carlos Villanueva from being cut.

I don’t think the Milwaukee Brewers want to eat Suppan’s $12.5M contract, who would?  However, his performance in Spring Training has been dismal. Suppan has a 7.71 ERA in five outings (21 hits, 6 BB’s, 14 runs in 16 1/3 innings).

Suppan is a good man.  He’s a charitable man.  Heck, he was even a great pitcher.  But has he been a great pitcher for Milwaukee?  Yes and no.  Big no, lately.  Giving the Milwaukee Brewers the freedom to place him on the DL is a genius idea.  It’s so genius that if Suppan was just smart enough, he’d one day admit he “created” a scenario where it WAS an option.

It reminds me of part of a Bob Uecker acceptance speech, delivered most recently at a WWE Hall of Fame event. I kid you not; Uecker was master of ceremonies at Wrestlemania III and IV.

I played for the St. Louis Cardinals, where I won a world championship in 1964. Bing Devine was the general manager of the Cardinals at that time. He asked me to do him a favor that would really help the club. I said, ‘Sure, I’m a team guy.’ He said, ‘We want to inject you with hepatitis. That will allow us to call somebody up to take your spot.’ I said, ‘Can I sit on the bench?’ He said, ‘Yeah, we’ll put a plastic thing around you. Maybe you can go over and shake hands with some of the Yankee players and infect them.’ We went on to win the World Championship that year. – Bob Uecker

The Brewers do not have the option of sending Manny Parra or Chris Narveson back down to the minors. And with Trevor Hoffman, LaTroy Hawkins, Todd Coffey, Claudio Vargas and lefty Mitch Stetter set in the bullpen, it left Villanueva the odd-duck out.

When I saw him early in Spring Training, Carlos looked good.  Good enough to deserve a roster spot. Lefty Scott Schoeneweis was already released last week because the Brewers knew full-well they didn’t have room for him.

Perhaps what is most bothersome was Suppan’s failure to describe what he would do differently to make the roster this season. Coming into Spring Training, he continually stated he would come in and do what he’s “always done” to prepare.  In a season where the front office went on a massive talent hunt to find arms worth hiring, perhaps that wasn’t good enough. It’s all well and fine to try new pitches during Spring Training, but numbers need to add up at some point. And we’re out of time.

Now the question is: did Suppan secretly make a sacrifice of different kind?  The one his team arguably deserves.  Yes, that statement is a little harsh.  However, it could be the best scenario for the beginning of the season.  If the season progresses and pitchers are hurt, Suppan could rehab in time to return and help when there’s a man down. Maybe protecting your pride isn’t such a bad thing after all, Jeff Suppan.

Join me, Melissa S. Wollering, as I break down everything you need to know about the Milwaukee Brewers from now until Opening Day here on TheSportsBank.net! Click here for my Spring Training: Live From Arizona Coverage.

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Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    Yes! Chart magnificence is back! I love this time of year. and like the 06 World Series sign said (mocking his political statements) CLONE SUPPAN!

  2. mswollering says

    Good thing this story broke right before he was declared headed to the DL. He SO “reported” his “injury” just in time to save him from being CUT–$12.5 M and all don’t you think?

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