Brewers notes: Escobar, Hardy, and Davis

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Some follow-up notes on yesterday’s big shakeup in Milwaukee
* Called up to replace J.J. Hardy at shortstop, 22-year-old prospect Alcides Escobar is making his first career start this afternoon against the Padres. And he’s batting ninth, behind pitcher Manny Parra. Escobar doesn’t figure to be much of an offensive threat at this stage of his career, but he has outstanding speed and because of that my guess is manager Ken Macha likes the idea of a “second leadoff man” at the bottom of the order.
* Meanwhile, Dave Cameron of Fan Graphs notes that by sending Hardy to Triple-A the Brewers can delay his free agency. Prior to the move Hardy would’ve gone past five seasons of service time this year and been eligible for free agency following next season, but if he remains in the minors until September the Brewers would have him under their control through 2011. At this point Hardy staying in Milwaukee is unlikely, but the teams looking to trade for him would also love to get another season out of the deal.
* General manager Doug Melvin is apparently looking to make even more changes, because the Brewers claimed Doug Davis off waivers from the Diamondbacks, giving the two sides a chance to work on a potential trade. Davis pitched for the Brewers from 2003-2006 and said yesterday that “going back to Milwaukee would be fun … I know the fans would be behind me.” However, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that trading for Davis “seems unlikely.”

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.