Brewers call on Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay to handle first base; Juan Francisco the odd man out

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Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Brewers have decided to use Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay at first base, leaving Juan Francisco on the outside looking in. Francisco, who hit 18 home runs with a .719 OPS in 385 plate appearances last season, was beat out by two non-roster invitees. It wasn’t due to a poor spring performance — Francisco slashed .346/.500/.731 in 26 at-bats while Reynolds OPSed .830 and Overbay .393.

Manager Ron Roenicke cited the duo’s prior body of work as well as defense in the team’s decision to take them over Francisco.

“We’re going with two guys that their track record is what we’re looking at,” said manager Ron Roenicke. “We feel we have better defense that way. I’ve been frustrated a little bit with the way we’re playing our defense, as has Doug (Melvin).

“We really feel like we’re going to pitch well this season. And because of that, we feel like we need to play good defense. When they talk about your defense being strong up the middle, we think we should be.”

As a result of making the big league roster, Reynolds will earn $2 million and Overbay will earn $1.5 million. Both can earn additional money by hitting certain performance thresholds.

As for Francisco, his future remains unclear. Rosiak suggests he would be a good fit as a DH for an American League team.

Jake Arrieta to return to Cubs’ rotation on Thursday

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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta has been out over two weeks with a strained right hamstring, but he’s ready to return to action. The right-hander threw a bullpen on Tuesday and it went well, so he will start in Thursday’s series opener against the Brewers in Milwaukee, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports.

Arrieta, 31, returns with a 14-9 record, a 3.48 ERA, and a 157/53 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. If he stays on schedule, he’ll make three starts through the end of the regular season, including the regular season finale on October 1 against the Reds.

Arrieta is expected to max out at 75-80 pitches on Thursday and will ramp up through the end of the month.

Cardinals activate Adam Wainwright from the disabled list

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The Cardinals announced ahead of Tuesday’s series opener against the Reds that pitcher Adam Wainwright has been activated from the 10-day disabled list.

Wainwright, 36, has been absent since mid-August due to a right elbow impingement. The Cardinals plan to use him out of the bullpen through the end of the season. Prior to the injury, the right-hander posted a disappointing 5.12 ERA with a 96/44 K/BB ratio in 121 1/3 innings.

Wainwright is under contract for one more year at $19.5 million before becoming eligible for free agency.