MILWAUKEE -- When several Brewers made huge jumps in the latest round of All-Star Game balloting results, released on Monday by Major League Baseball, perhaps the biggest surprise was the surge of third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who went from fourth to first place among third basemen in the National League.
Ramirez is no stranger to the Midsummer Classic -- he started for the NL in 2005 and was a reserve in the '08 game, both as a member of the Cubs. But if fans choose Ramirez to start this year, it would be a milestone for the Brewers, who have not had a third baseman start the All-Star Game since Paul Molitor in 1988.
The veteran Ramirez has certainly made a case for himself this year, despite missing several weeks with a left hamstring strain. Ramirez entered Wednesday batting .290 with 10 home runs and a .490 slugging percentage. He recently moved into sixth place on the all-time list of career home runs for third basemen, passing Matt Williams with No. 360.
Ramirez said he'd be happy to make the trip to Minneapolis next month, but he's more excited about contributing to a Brewers team that boasts several potential All-Star selections.
"If I go, it's fun for me and my family," Ramirez said. "If not, I get four days off and get to go home. For me, it's really a win-win situation. For now, my focus is just trying to win games. We've got a really good thing going here. We're in first place, and that's my main focus right now."
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.
Brewers add Figaro, option Fiers for 'pen depth
MILWAUKEE -- On Wednesday, the morning after pitching four innings to help keep the Brewers tied until the 16th inning of a 4-2 loss to the Nationals, right-hander Mike Fiers was on his way back to Triple-A Nashville, optioned in favor of right-hander Alfredo Figaro.
The move was a matter of necessity for the Brewers' bullpen: Fiers, who threw 22 pitches on Monday and 59 on Tuesday, was going to be unavailable until Saturday. It's a sign of the state of the club's relief corps that Milwaukee chose to call up Figaro, who threw 22 pitches in two innings for Nashville on Tuesday. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said that Figaro would be available against Washington on Wednesday afternoon.
"That's tough, because I really like the way [Fiers] threw the ball yesterday," Roenicke said. "You ask a guy to come in and throw that many innings, you think you're going to win a game if he puts up three zeros. But we needed the arm, and he wouldn't have been able to pitch until Saturday."
Fiers said he would move back into the Nashville rotation and make a start on Monday. Though he eventually relented on Tuesday night in allowing a two-run home run to Ryan Zimmerman in the 16th inning, Fiers said he felt he left a good impression with the Major League club.
"I felt good; I threw the ball well," Fiers said. "Zimmerman got me for the two-run homer, but other than that, I was pitching well. I don't really regret anything I did or pitches I threw. I've just got to do the same thing down there. If the opportunity comes, I'll be back up."
The move maintains the eight-man bullpen that Milwaukee has used since June 14. Because of the large bullpen, the team has had only four bats available off the bench, and Roenicke had previously said the Brewers would re-evaluate that balance after the Washington series.
Tuesday's night's lengthy game -- in which Rob Wooten, Will Smith, Francisco Rodriguez, Zach Duke, Tom Gorzelanny and Fiers pitched -- changed those plans. Roenicke said the Brewers would keep the large relief corps through this weekend's series against Colorado and re-evaluate heading into Monday's off-day.
"We're going to go [with eight relievers] for a while here and see if we can get our bullpen back in order, where they're at least a little bit rested, and then re-evaluate it," Roenicke said. "Before we get to that first off-day, we'll look at it and see where we are. If we're good a couple of days before, maybe we'll do something there. We'll see how it goes."
Quick turnaround lets Crew rest banged-up stars
MILWAUKEE -- Though it's not unusual for starters to get a break when a day game comes on the heels of a night game, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said that resting on Wednesday was particularly necessary for third baseman Aramis Ramirez and right fielder Ryan Braun.
Roenicke said that Ramirez, who was removed after the 11th inning of Tuesday night's 4-2 loss to the Nationals in 16 innings, was still hurting from the left hamstring injury that kept him on the disabled list from May 13 to June 4. The manager said the Brewers planned to re-evaluate Ramirez after Wednesday's game and see if he needed additional time off.
"He was hurting; it worked out, but I needed to get him out of there somewhere," Roenicke said of Ramirez's removal from Tuesday's game. "It's a little bit of everything. The back is creating some things. The hamstring, that one is still not 100 percent gone. He feels fine, but that tightened up."
Braun endured a DL stint of his own in May because of a right oblique strain and sustained a mild right ankle sprain last Sunday in Colorado. Roenicke said that Braun's hamstring has also been bothering him.
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy was also out of Wednesday's starting lineup, and Roenicke said that center fielder Carlos Gomez was hurting as well, though he was well enough to start. The Brewers haven't had an off-day since June 9, and it's fair to say Roenicke is looking forward to the team's two days upcoming days off, Monday and next Thursday.
"Sometimes they work out to where you'll have some quick games and you'll rebound," Roenicke said. "But when you have a game like you do last night, you can't rebound from it. [Lucroy's] a guy that it's not too often that I come to the ballpark and I ask him how he's doing and he gives me an 'Ugh.' Well, he's there. It was a tough one."
• Brewers reliever Jim Henderson made more positive progress on Tuesday in a mound session at Maryvale Baseball Park. He has been on the DL with a right shoulder injury and is aiming to return soon after the All-Star break. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has begun preparations for the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, and Henderson's progress could play a significant role in whether Milwaukee seeks bullpen help.
The news was much less encouraging for another injured reliever, Tyler Thornburg, who remains unable to throw, according to Roenicke, because of a right elbow injury.
• Brandon Kintzler revealed he was unavailable in Tuesday's game because of some fatigue in his right shoulder, but he said he was able to pitch if needed on Wednesday afternoon. The Brewers have tied to limit Kintzler to a reasonable workload since he was on the DL earlier this season.
-- Adam McCalvy
Caitlin Swieca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.