MILWAUKEE -- John Axford's third consecutive scoreless outing on Thursday was his best yet, but Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was not quite ready to restore Axford to the closer's role.
"I still think there's a little bit to go," Roenicke said. "But all of his fastballs are down in the zone, unless he tries to make a guy swing at a high one, which is what he used to do. When he comes in and he's throwing all pitches down, I feel he's going to do well. … I like what he's doing."
So what makes Roenicke say there is still a "bit to go?"
"I look up and I still see 94 [mph]. I'm used to seeing 96," Roenicke said. "Last year it was a little bit harder than , but the results weren't the same, so I'm not saying it's all about velocity. But there's a difference between 94 and 96."
Axford responded by touching 96 mph with the final pitch of his scoreless seventh inning against the Cubs on Friday night. Darwin Barney led off with an infield single and advanced on a sacrifice bunt, but Axford struck out David DeJesus swinging on a 95 mph fastball before Starlin Castro went down swinging at a 96 mph pitch to end the threat.
Prospect Burgos set for debut on Saturday
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers pitching prospect Hiram Burgos was this close to the big leagues in 2012. He was at the airport for a flight to Triple-A Nashville and was tempted to board at the adjoining gate instead -- where another plane was bound for Milwaukee. Burgos snapped a photo instead, posted it to Twitter and bided his time.
On Friday morning, Burgos, ranked by MLB.com as the Brewers' No. 13 prospect, finally took that other flight. Promoted the day before from Triple-A, Burgos will make his Major League debut against the Cubs on Saturday night at Miller Park.
"Sometimes I sit down and say, like, 'Damn. At this time last year, I was in High-A in Brevard [County, Fla.],'" Burgos said. "That's the good thing about baseball. You've got to keep working hard to get people out, and in less than a year, I'm here."
A sixth-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft from Cayey, Puerto Rico, Burgos went 10-4 with a 1.95 ERA in 27 starts and one relief appearance between Class A Brevard County, Double-A Huntsville and Nashville in 2012. He held opponents to a .210 average, struck out 153 batters versus 49 walks, won Brewers Minor League pitcher of the year honors and then -- most important of all -- won a spot on Milwaukee's 40-man roster.
Burgos was picked for this weekend promotion over fellow prospects Tyler Thornburg and Johnny Hellweg.
"I think he was pitching better," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.
Burgos, who had a 2.70 ERA over three Triple-A starts, does not possess the power fastball of those other two right-handers, but he proved he could pitch with a strong showing in the World Baseball Classic.
He replaced right-hander Mike Fiers, who was demoted to Nashville and will make at least two Sounds starts, the first on Saturday. That roster move was made a day earlier than necessary so Fiers will already have 10 days in the Minors by April 30, the next time after Saturday that the Brewers require a fifth starter.
"Everybody here wants [Fiers] to be one of our starters and pitch the way he did for the first couple of months last year," Roenicke said. "How do we get him there? I don't know if by using him once in a while in the bullpen, that's going to get him there."
Roenicke and his coaches will evaluate their pitching options after Burgos' start. If it goes well, they could simply keep their five pitchers lined up through off-days on the schedule.
Green to undergo season-ending hip surgery
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers infielder Taylor Green will undergo season-ending surgery Tuesday to repair a hip injury that he says has bothered him for more than five years.
Dr. William Raasch will repair three tears to the labrum in Green's left hip and remove bone spurs that have grown on the ball of the joint. Green said he has been able to play through discomfort related to the tears all the way back to 2007, his third professional season, but the spurs have now grown to the point that they cause the joint to lock in place.
He faces a long rehab.
"Six months," Green said. "And a full six months."
The timing of his injury was terrible. Green might be the Brewers' everyday first baseman were he healthy, and would at least be playing extensively at first and third because of injuries to other players. Instead, Green began the season on the disabled list, then suffered a setback early last week in extended spring camp.
Raasch examined the hip on Thursday, and surgery was deemed necessary.
"I've played with it for years now, but it's gotten to the point where I literally can't," Green said. "It will be nice to have it finally healthy."
The news was much better for Jeff Bianchi, another infielder on the DL with a hip injury. After beginning a rehab assignment with five games at Double-A Huntsville, he was promoted to Triple-A Nashville.
"I think we'll want to see him there about a week," assistant general manager Gord Ash said.
• For the eighth time in their last 11 scheduled games, lousy weather forced a postponement for Class A Wisconsin on Friday.
"When it doesn't rain us out we get 27 degrees and wind chill 'colded-out' haha," Tweeted last year's top Brewers Draft pick, catcher Clint Coulter. "T-Rats are pro stretchers and weightlifters so far."
The weather in Appleton, Wis., has been so spotty that the Brewers have delayed activating Victor Roach, the outfielder selected one spot after Coulter, who was sidelined to start the season by a hamstring strain. Roache has been healthy for about a week, but will continue getting at-bats in extended spring camp until Mother Nature begins to cooperate.
"He's fine, but there's no sense sending him to Wisconsin because they never play," Ash quipped.
• Right-hander Mark Rogers breezed through an 11-pitch inning in an extended spring game Thursday and will pitch again Saturday. If that goes well, Rogers will begin a 30-day rehab assignment at Double-A Huntsville on Tuesday, Ash said. The former first-round Draft pick is on the DL trying to reclaim his lost velocity.