ST. LOUIS – A return to a major-league mound is so close that Trevor Rosenthal can almost taste it.
But after missing nearly two full seasons following a pair of major surgeries and now a left hamstring strain, the right-hander figures a few more weeks' wait will be worth it in the end to join the Milwaukee Brewers' bullpen.
"You hit the nail on the head," Rosenthal said Saturday before his new team's matchup against his original team, the St. Louis Cardinals, at Busch Stadium.
He was on hand to meet his new teammates and coaching staff for the first time after being acquired from the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 2 in exchange for minor-league outfielder Tristan Peters.
Rosenthal had been in Phoenix recovering, and now after a brief check-in at the ballpark and at his suburban St. Louis home he'll head out to join Class AAA Nashville for a minor-league rehab assignment that will begin with a one-inning appearance Tuesday.
"He's ready to face competition," manager Craig Counsell said of the 32-year-old, who threw a session of live batting practice on Friday, one in which he hit 98 mph on the radar gun.
"We need to get him into games to get that last piece, that adrenaline. He hasn't pitched in games (in a long time) and we need to get that process started. I think we're looking at probably two weeks at least, then we'll see where he's at and how he's doing."
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Trevor Rosenthal probably feels weird sitting in the visitors’ dugout at Busch Stadium: pic.twitter.com/1pll06ncIh
— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) August 13, 2022
Trevor Rosenthal was once one of MLB's best closers but injuries derailed career
Rosenthal developed into one of the game's most dominant closers during his six seasons with the Cardinals, saving 45 and 48 games in 2014 and 2015 respectively. He also earned his lone all-star bid in 2015.
Since departing St. Louis in 2017, Rosenthal has endured serious injuries that have necessitated Tommy John surgery (2017), thoracic outlet surgery (2020) and hip labrum surgery (2020).
The hamstring injury he's working through occurred during an open workout he held for interested teams in Miami in early July — the Brewers were one of the teams on hand — but Rosenthal still showed enough to convince the Giants to sign him to a $4.5 million contract on July 21.
Then came the trade to the Brewers, who will become the sixth team for which Rosenthal will pitch in the majors assuming no further setbacks.
"It's frustrating, especially when it's an injury like this one that happened after a lengthy rehab process to begin with," Rosenthal said of all the waiting and rehabbing to get to this moment.
He hasn't appeared in the majors since the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, when he logged a 1.90 earned run average and WHIP of 0.85 with 38 strikeouts in 23 ⅔ innings over 23 appearances for the Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres.
For his career, Rosenthal is 12-25 with a 3.36 ERA and WHIP of 1.32 in 373 appearances. He also has struck out 490 in 364 innings for a rate of 12.1 per nine.
"Putting all the work and throwing the ball really well, and for something new to pop up like a hamstring, it was frustrating," Rosenthal said. "But luckily, here with Milwaukee and having a good support staff to keep my mind on the prize and do things in a way that we're progressing and not having setbacks is important.
"And then also just drawing off of previous experience and going through these situations — going through rehabs, injuries, through trades, switching teams — a lot of things that I've experienced in my career now that at a younger age, I had never thought were even something that was possible.
"So, I think I'm prepared and I'm in a good spot now to contribute to this ballclub."
Brewers bullpen acquisition Trevor Rosenthal has dropped in for a visit with his new team. He is still on his rehab assignment, so no chance of him pitching. pic.twitter.com/cAeIsauji2
— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) August 13, 2022
Brewers have many options in their revamped bullpen after trades
Adding Rosenthal to a bullpen that already features one of the game's best relievers in Devin Williams, another all-star-caliber reliever in Taylor Rogers and newly acquired Matt Bush — another very hard thrower — will give Counsell even more options in Milwaukee's revamped bullpen.
"We've got steps to go, but right now we're in a good spot," Counsell said. "He's feeling good and the ball's coming out very good. He's healthy and throwing hard, and it's the Trevor Rosenthal that we've seen."
The fact he's being brought on in part to help knock his former club out of the race in the Central Division isn't lost on Rosenthal, who also spent part of Saturday greeting some of the familiar faces that still remain from his time in St. Louis.
"It’s always really special, any major-league opportunity, any team that wants to bring you on board to help," he said. "It's always a dream come true to play this game like we do, but especially here where we have a really good chance to win a division, to be in the postseason and play some exciting baseball games.
"There's nothing better than that."
Relief pitcher Trevor Gott goes on the injured list
The Brewers made a few roster moves in advance of Saturday's game, placing right-hander Trevor Gott on the injured list with a strained right forearm and recalling right-hander Peter Strzelecki from Nashville.
"He's just kind of been battling not bouncing back probably the last week or so," Counsell said of Gott. "Came in yesterday and hadn't recovered from his outing Wednesday in Milwaukee and today just didn't feel better as well.
"Luis Perdomo is doing well (at Nashville) and Peter Strzelecki has had a really good season. He's pitched very well when he's been here and pitched well at Triple-A. He's the guy that's pitching the best, frankly."
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: New Brewers relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal ready to make his return