Mark Rogers has found a groove and is getting another chance to pitch for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Rogers, a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher from Orrs Island, was scheduled to start Friday night for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds against the Memphis Redbirds.
Instead, he will start Sunday for the Brewers against the visiting Washington Nationals.
“He’s real excited,” said Craig Rogers, his father. “I think his only problem is that he might be too excited instead of going out there that first game, and just relaxing and doing what he does.”
The call-up came after the Brewers traded Zach Grienke, their ace who is scheduled to become a free agent after this season, to the Los Angeles Angels for three top prospects.
It’s the second time Rogers has been called up by the Brewers. He pitched 10 innings over a four-game span in September 2010.
“I think that he really wants to prove to himself that he belongs there,” his father said. “He’s been working hard to get to this point. His last three or four starts have been excellent. I think that he’s ready.”
Rogers, who has had to overcome a variety of health issues the past eight years, is showing the promise the Brewers saw when they made him the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft following his senior season at Mt. Ararat High in Topsham.
“I think I can safely say everyone in the organization thinks he’s turned the corner,” said Reid Nichols, director of player development for Milwaukee, prior to the call-up. “He’s starting to become what we thought he would.”
Rogers won five of his last eight starts for the Sounds to even his record at 6-6, lowering his earned-run average from 7.50 to 4.72. In his last three starts, he threw a total of 19 innings, allowing 13 hits and four earned runs while striking out 17 and walking seven. He allowed a total of three home runs in his last nine starts.
“The last month and a half I’ve felt pretty good,” Rogers said Thursday. “This is the best I felt physically in a really long time. I finally feel like I’m over that stuff, and I’m excited to get past it.”
That stuff includes a variety of surgical procedures and a lot of time spent in rehabilitation.
Last August, Rogers, 26, underwent surgery in both hands to combat bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome.
In July 2006, he injured his right shoulder and underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum.
In June 2007, he had scar tissue removed as a result of the first surgery and ended up sitting out the 2008 season.
“Anybody who has been through surgery knows it takes a while for your body to feel like your body again,” Rogers said. “I’m at the point where I feel like myself, entirely. I feel like I’m in pitching shape again. I’m back into a form where I can pitch deep into a game, 100 pitches and have no problems, and that’s a really good feeling.”
At the start of the season, Rogers’ fastball topped up at 92 miles per hour. During the past two months, it’s consistently been in the 92-97 mph range.
“I think I’m pitching with more confidence, and my stuff has just gotten better since the beginning of the year,” he said.
“The velocity is better. It’s where it was in 2010. I’m throwing more change-ups. I’m throwing a slider and a curveball, and I’m really throwing strikes. I’ve been able to throw multiple pitches for strikes at this level.”
Nichols said the Brewers have been pleased with Rogers’ progress.
“I’m not surprised by what he’s doing,” the former Boston Red Sox outfielder said. “I think he’s learned what he has to put into it in order to get to where he wants to go.”
“I’ve put in a lot of work and I feel I’ve made a lot of progress as far as pitching goes,” said Rogers, who started the season by finishing a 25-game suspension after testing positive last summer for use of a banned stimulant for a second time.
Pitching at the Triple-A level really aided in his development, he said.
“The biggest difference between (Triple-A) and other levels is you’re pitching to professional hitters, guys who have had some big-league time,” Rogers said. “They have a real good feel for the strike zone, and a lot of guys aren’t going to chase pitches. I think you can really learn how to pitch and how to play the game correctly at the Triple-A level, and I think the reason for the success I’m having right now is I took the time to learn how to pitch.”
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: