04/10/2008 2:22 PM ET
Iribarren called up as Gwynn hits DL
Brewers make move to ensure bench has left-handed bat
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- After Hernan Iribarren got the news that he was headed to the big leagues for the first time, he phoned home to his parents in Venezuela.
"My dad couldn't even talk," Iribarren said as he unpacked a Nashville Sounds duffel bag at Miller Park on Thursday. "He was so excited."
Whether it is a short look or an extended stay remains to be seen. The Brewers, no longer willing to play a man short while outfielder Tony Gwynn, Jr. rehabs a hamstring strain, promoted the 23-year-old Iribarren from Triple-A Nashville on Wednesday night and placed Gwynn on the disabled list.
The team's expectations for Iribarren lay primarily in his bat. Like Gwynn, he's a left-handed hitter with speed, though he's not nearly as slick in the outfield. Iribarren was a second baseman until last summer, when the Brewers decided to increase his versatility by introducing him to the outfield.
On Thursday morning, Brewers manager Ned Yost said he would use Iribarren defensively, "if it were a dire emergency." Gabes Gross and Kapler will continue to platoon in center field while Mike Cameron serves his suspension.
Iribarren may be a work in progress in the field, but he can certainly hit. He batted .324, with a .382 on-base percentage in his first six Minor League seasons, and was hitting .348 (8-for-23) in Nashville's first seven games this season. He played his first three games in left field, and has spent the last three games in center. The Brewers typically groom their Triple-A outfielders to play multiple positions so they can tab a hot bat when one is needed.
Iribarren got the call over Laynce Nix, who was hitting .296 through seven games, and possesses similar speed with a reputation as a polished defender. Nix, though, is not currently on the 40-man roster.
Gwynn's DL assignment was backdated to April 4, meaning he's eligible to return on April 19.
"You can't continue playing short," Yost said. "Will [Gwynn] be ready in two or three days? Do you gamble, let him go out there and blow it? Or do you take the [nine] days and take the extra player? You look at some of the games going on; you look at the Cubs playing 15 [innings] last night. You can't get caught short for that kind of game."
Gwynn understood the reasoning behind the move.
"I kind of expected it," Gwynn said Wednesday night. "We sat on it for, what, six games now? I'm not lying to you guys when I say it's improving every day. It's just not to the point where it's 100 percent, and I need it to be 100 percent so I can help this team."
Gwynn said he would not travel with the team Thursday night to New York, but would join the team next week in St. Louis. Cameron is also expected to travel from Phoenix to St. Louis to spend time with the team.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.