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Brewers suffer more bad news on injury front
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Brewers suffer more bad news on injury front

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By Vic Feuerherd

Lee Newspapers

MILWAUKEE - The injury news continues to go from bad to worse for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Center fielder Jeffrey Ham-monds had his rehabilitation assignment with the Brewers' Arizona League entry short-circuited because of continued soreness in his right shoulder, and pitcher Paul Rigdon is scheduled to meet with orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., later this week for another evaluation of his sore right elbow.

Hammonds' apparent setback is bad news for an offense that is looking for a boost. Out since June 7, Hammonds played one game for the Arizona Brew-ers Sunday but lasted just five innings. He was unable to play Monday night, when it was determined that he should be re-evaluated by the Brewers' medical staff.

"They tell me the whole area is sore," said manager Davey Lopes, who was looking forward to getting Hammonds back in the lineup on the Brewers' upcoming road trip that begins tonight in Los Angeles.

Rigdon's continued absence strips the Brewers in another weak area: the starting rotation. He already has spent 15 days on his second trip to the disabled list and has made just two starts covering 6 innings since his first stop on the DL in June.

"It does not look good," Lopes said of Rigdon, a right-hander who underwent reconstructive elbow surgery in 1997 while in the Cleveland Indians organization.

The loss of Rigdon adds even more pressure to the most overworked part of the Brewers' roster, the bullpen. Lopes came up short in that area in Monday night's loss to the Chicago White Sox when Mike DeJean was unable to work.

Lopes also went into Tuesday afternoon's 8-4 loss to the White Sox without the reliable David Weathers, who threw more than 30 pitches in a two-inning outing Monday.

"We're just trying to get through seven innings from our starters," Lopes said. "I'm a little concerned about the bullpen. They've carried a big load and I have to be careful with them.

"The bullpen has been very good, but even the good ones bend when they have to be used more times than they should."

LONG WAIT IS OVER: Mike Coolbaugh is the happiest story amid the sorry state of the Brewers, and the 29-year-old rookie delivered again Tuesday.

Coolbaugh, who was in his 12th minor league season before being called up by the Brewers last Sunday, hit his first major league home run in his third at-bat, a solo shot off White Sox reliever Jon Garland. Coolbaugh singled off Garland in his first big league at-bat in the loss Monday night.

"I was thinking it was an out," Coolbaugh said of his ninth-inning fly ball that just cleared the left-field fence. "I was rounding second and I wasn't sure, but nobody said anything so I figured even if it was caught, I was going to keep running.

"I had a good time. I dreamed about this for a long time."

Lopes appreciates the enthusiasm brought by Coolbaugh, who had been with five other organizations before signing with the Brewers last winter.

"He's very hungry and has an intensity level that's a little higher than others' right now," Lopes said. "He's on cloud nine right now, as well as he should be."

CLEAR MESSAGE: With all the recent attention given to major league baseball's desire to have umpires call more strikes to shorten the length of games, the message on the Brewers' clubhouse bulletin board was not so startling.

It pointed out that Gary Cederstrom was working Tuesday's game behind the plate and that he averages 277.7 pitches per game, the ninth-lowest total in the game.

So the words of advice were clear to the Brewers' hitters. "Swing the bat," it said in big, black letters.

AROUND THE HORN: Richie Sexson's two-run homer in the sixth was his 22nd of the season and fourth in the last six games. Jeromy Burnitz immediately followed with his 20th, the seventh time this season the Brewers have hit back-to-back home runs. … Ron Belliard extended his hitting streak to nine games with a first-inning double. … The crowd of 40,332 was the fifth straight better than 40,000 and raised Milwaukee's season attendance average to 35,386. … Allen Levrault (4-3, 5.05 ERA) will try to snap the Brewers' four-game losing streak tonight when he faces Los Angeles right-hander Chan Ho Park (8-6, 3.20).

Vic Feuerherd is a reporter for The Wisconsin State Journal in Madison.

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