LOS ANGELES -- Left-hander Chris Narveson played catch Saturday for the first time since he sprained a ligament in his left middle finger, the first step in what will be a relatively long rehabilitation.
It was the first time he'd thrown a baseball since April 6, when he felt discomfort warming up for a relief outing against Arizona. Narveson threw Saturday with his middle and ring fingers taped together, but eventually will shed the tape, then advance to long toss, then to the mound. It will beat least two weeks before Narveson gets to the mound, and he will then have to rebuild a pitch count.
"Nice and easy," Narveson said of Saturday's session. "The intensity will go up as we go along. Small steps."
He is used to being patient. On Wednesday, Narveson will be one year removed from a major shoulder surgery that ended his 2012 season. He was part of Milwaukee's Opening Day bullpen before suffering the finger injury.
Betancourt takes his turn as Brewers' cleanup man
LOS ANGELES -- The Brewers were only a few miles from the Price Is Right studio on Saturday, so we'll put it like this: Yuniesky Betancourt, come on down. You're the next contestant to bat cleanup for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Betancourt was so surprised when he arrived at Dodger Stadium on Saturday and saw the lineup card, he asked hitting coach Johnny Narron if it was for real.
"This is my first time fourth in the lineup," said Betancourt, who had started games at every other spot in the batting order during a nine-year Major League career. "I was surprised. I asked the hitting coach, 'Hey, is everything OK here?' It feels good. I'm not going to change my approach at the plate. I'm trying to keep everything the same -- see the ball and hit it."
That famously simple aggressive approach has Betancourt off to a solid start at the plate (second on the team with four home runs and 17 RBIs) and made him the latest name penciled into the troublesome cleanup spot by manager Ron Roenicke.
Betancourt went 2-for-5 and opened the scoring in Saturday's 6-4 win with an RBI single in the third inning.
Since third baseman Aramis Ramirez went down with a left knee injury, Roenicke has tried second baseman Rickie Weeks (4-for-48, two RBIs in 11 starts batting cleanup) and catcher Jonathan Lucroy (4-for-21, two RBIs in five starts) with little success.
With Weeks stuck in a wicked slump and Lucroy getting Saturday off, it was Betancourt's turn.
"He's really been playing well," Roenicke said. "Defensively, he's been outstanding, and he's been getting some big hits for us. … You think about, what would we do with the infield if we didn't have Yuni in there all the time?"
Saturday marked the one-month anniversary of Betancourt's surprise return to the Brewers, for whom he manned shortstop in 2011 when the team reached the National League Championship Series. He was brought back to be a bench player, but has instead been starting at first base and third base because of Ramirez's injury.
"I'm glad I'm playing every day. I'm having fun with the game," Betancourt said. "I'm feeling good. I feel like a young guy again."
Weeks, who has five hits in his last 62 at-bats, was still in the lineup, but was hitting fifth.
"Some of it is pressure off Rick, and some of it is wanting a guy hitting fourth who's going to drive in some runs for us," Roenicke said. "The bad thing I don't like with Rick is, I don't want to move him around all the time."
Segura scratched because of split fingernail
LOS ANGELES -- The Brewers and Dodgers both made significant lineup changes about an hour before Saturday's first pitch, with Milwaukee scratching shortstop and two-hole hitter Jean Segura after he split a fingernail fielding grounders during batting practice.
Segura split the nail on his right index finger of his throwing hand. Alex Gonzalez moved from first base to shortstop and Blake Lalli started at first base.
"We'll see how it is [Sunday], whether he can throw," manager Ron Roenicke said. "But it split it open pretty good. We weren't able to put him in at defense today, but he said he could hit. That finger doesn't come into play very much swinging the bat."
Segura struck out looking as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning in Saturday's 6-4 win. It's the throwing that will decide his status for Sunday.
"And the way he throws, he grips that ball pretty hard," Roenicke said.
It was a significant loss for the Brewers considering Segura's solid start to the season. With two more hits in Friday's series opener, he was batting .359 (fifth best among qualifying National League hitters) with a league-best seven stolen bases. He'd hit safely in 16 of his 20 games so far.
The Dodgers also suffered a loss. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who drove in three runs Friday, including a go-ahead, two-run double, was scratched because of what the Dodgers called a "small infection" on his right leg. He was at the hospital Saturday evening but expected to play on Sunday, according to a Dodgers spokesperson.
Brewers to debate best move for Davis, Prince
LOS ANGELES -- Would Brewers prospects Khris Davis and Josh Prince be better served playing every day at Triple-A Nashville instead of sitting mostly idle on the Major League bench?
Club officials will meet Monday to have that debate.
"Well, they're still happy to be here because it's their first time in the big leagues, and you want to play, but it's really fun to be in the big leagues," manager Ron Roenicke said. "They're still [here], but it's not just me, it's Doug [Melvin, the general manager] and the rest of the coaching staff, we've talked about what we need to do with a couple of those guys.
"Khris Davis [No. 15 prospect] is definitely a guy we think is going to be a big plus offensively, and to sit him here and not play him at all, I don't know if that's the right thing to do with him. Certainly, if he was helping us a lot and we needed him, it would be different. We'll talk about it when we get back Monday, and see if we need to move a couple of pieces, whether it's [Davis] or Josh, or somebody. ... Maybe send them down for 10 days and get them hot and then bring them back."
The question is who the Brewers would promote in either player's place.
One possible candidate, infielder Jeff Bianchi, is not yet ready to return from a Minor League rehabilitation assignment, Roenicke said. Bianchi has been on the disabled list since the start of the season with a left hip injury.
"He's still shy of being 100 percent, from what I hear," Roenicke said.
• Right-hander Kyle Lohse downplayed the effect his dislocated left pinkie finger would have on his Sunday start against the Dodgers and left-hander Clayton Kershaw. The injury was to his non-pitching hand, and Lohse has suffered it at least four times before. He said he would be able to handle the pain of swinging the bat.
• Ramirez had another "good day" Saturday of batting and fielding practice and will try running the bases when the Brewers return to Miller Park. He is still less than 100 percent when making quick side-to-side movements, but has been impressive swinging the bat, according to Roenicke.