MILWAUKEE -- When Randy Wolf was released by the Brewers on Wednesday, it opened up the door for the Brewers' young pitchers to prove themselves over the rest of the season.
Still, two of the pitchers who stand to benefit the most -- Mike Fiers and Mark Rogers -- were among the most disappointed to see the 36-year-old left-hander leave."I haven't been up in this game for too long and I haven't really figured out what goes on, but this is definitely a loss," Fiers said. "Coming up to the big leagues my first full year, just having him around has been a treat. Just to have that guy who's been through a lot, and he's been in the big leagues for a while. He's taught me a lot of things, and I've had a lot of fun with him here." Rogers, who had a locker next to Wolf in Spring Training the last few years, shared a similar sentiment. "He was great with me from the start," Rogers said. "From the second I walked into this clubhouse, he took me under his wing, played catch with me, talked to me about pitching. He's been a great teammate. It's never easy to see a teammate [getting released], much less such a great guy." Wolf's release -- which came on his birthday -- was partly the result of the nightmare season he's had on the mound. Just 3-10 on the year, with a 5.69 ERA, Wolf has shared his frustration after each tough start. While it's been hard on Wolf to struggle, the way he handled those rough patches left a lasting impression on the 27-year-old Fiers. "In this game, you're going to get hit hard once in a while," Fiers said. "I think, for me, I would blow up a lot. I would be more mad and kind of take it with me through the next couple days or so. Watching him, this hasn't been his best year, but when things aren't going right, he's still the same guy. He takes every day as the same. He's going to work hard, and he's going to get back out there for the next start and work on that. I think he's taught me that. I've seen the way he's handled himself on and off the field, so I think I've learned from just to keep cool, not really worry about it and get ready for my next start after a bad one." Ryan Braun also was said to see Wolf's time in Milwaukee come to an end. He said he felt bad for Wolf, first as a friend, then as a teammate. And instead of focusing on the negative, Braun talked about what the veteran pitcher meant to the team last season, when he went 13-10 with a 3.69 ERA. Braun also recognized that Wolf's departure will give other pitchers a chance they deserve. "It's definitely encouraging when you look at the young arms we now have," Braun said. "It's exciting for the future of the organization, knowing we have a few young guys who have the ability to contribute at this level. It's definitely important to see where they're at, too, as far as going into this offseason, so the organization can have a plan for next year in figuring out how to replace at least three of our starters, it looks like. It's an important time for all of them to have a chance to prove themselves a little bit."
Axford asked skipper for return to closer's role
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke always says his office door is open, and closer John Axford took him up on it.Axford approached the manager last week and asked for his old job back after the Brewers went about a month with a series of closers. Axford said he took responsibility for creating some of the "chaos and instability" in the bullpen, and told Roenicke he felt ready to restore order. "Better than him going in there and saying, 'I want to hit cleanup,'" general manager Doug Melvin cracked.
Roenicke and Melvin agreed that Axford was ready, so when a save opportunity arose Tuesday night, Axford got the call. He recorded the final out of the Brewers' win over the Cubs, then returned to the hill on Wednesday, when he closed out a 3-2 win.Roenicke said it was a lucky circumstance that the situation Tuesday required only one out for a save. Had it been a 1-0 game entering the ninth, it would still have been Axford's save opportunity, too. Axford got the ball in the ninth inning again on Wednesday, and although he allowed one base hit, he struck out the other three batters he faced on the way to recording saves on back-to-back days for the first time since late May. "Maybe just that little boost of confidence last night or the boost of confidence in talking with Ron before was really what I needed," Axford said. "Just to reassure myself that I deserve to be out there." The Brewers are hoping that Axford reestablishes himself as a reliable closer before the end of the season. He was 46-for-48 in save opportunities last season but leads the Majors with eight blown saves in 2012. "You've still got to perform, and he knows that," Melvin said. "We've showed confidence in him, and he wants to do it. You saw [Tuesday], 97-98 mph. This isn't someone whose velocity has gone down. It's a matter of throwing strikes and gaining confidence. He showed the confidence to go in the office."
Shortstop Jean Segura was out of the lineup Wednesday after hurting his left ankle or foot on a play at first base in Tuesday's victory. He stepped on Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol's foot as Marmol reached for the bag.Roenicke hopes to have Segura back on Friday in Pittsburgh. "He's limping, so today, he's going to see what he can do, whether I can use him out there or not," Roenicke said. "I don't expect it to be more than a couple of days to get him back in there starting. You never know how these guys heal. When you're 22, you seem to heal a lot faster." Shaun Marcum will take recently released left-hander Randy Wolf's place in the Brewers' rotation, meaning Marcum will start Saturday in Pittsburgh. He has been on the disabled list since mid-June with a stiff right elbow. The rest of the Brewers' starters will stay in line, so Mike Fiers will pitch Friday's series opener against the Pirates and Mark Rogers will work Sunday's finale.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Jeremy Warnemunde is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.