Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 7/30/12
MILWAUKEE Eight years ago, Mark Rogers was the Brewers' future. As the team's first round pick in 2004 and the fifth pick overall the expectations for Rogers were astronomical. But two shoulder surgeries and two seasons gone due to those injuries, those expectations began to diminish. Then, a 25-game suspension due to a banned stimulant begged the question of whether Rogers would ever live up to his draft position. But on Monday, after battling with confidence and command issues since then, Rogers found himself on the mound at Miller Park. It took just one batter for him to give up a run a Steve Lombardozzi home run to right field but a few batters later, Rogers began to settle down. And five and two-thirds innings, Rogers left the field to a standing ovation from the Miller park crowd. He had shown the flashes of potential that made him such a high draft pick, striking out seven and allowing just one more run after that leadoff home run. Even as the bullpen collapsed in the game's later innings, Rogers' performance would stand as the game's only sign of optimism. "I thought he was a little tentative the first couple batters, and once he started letting it loose, he was really good the rest of the game," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Velocity stayed up at 95 or plus, explosive, good command on his slider good, command on his breaking ball. He did a real nice job. It's hard to get too negative about the end results of the game when I think about what he did." Even closer John Axford, who spent the majority of his interview explaining bullpen woes again, took a moment to praise Rogers for what he had done, despite the game's results. "We have another guy coming up from Nashville that threw a fantastic game today," Axford said. "He did a fantastic job keeping guys off balance, locating his pitches. He fell behind in the count and he tacked one right back after guys. And he threw some breaking pitchers where he wasn't throwing them in Nashville. He did a fantastic job and he definitely deserved to win today." FINALLY GETTING HIS CHANCE For Jim Henderson who waited 10 years for this weekend series against the Nationals the magic of this weekend his first in the major leagues had yet to wear off, despite having stood at this locker with his name on it for two games already. "I'm having an out-of-body experience still," Henderson said on Sunday, "watching film of myself pitching in this uniform. It's hard to believe it's happening right now." At 29, it was hard for Henderson to believe that this moment would ever come. A late draft pick of the Montreal Expos in 2003, Henderson had toiled in the minor leagues for a decade before the moment he had waited for so long finally came. As a member of the Cubs organization, Henderson thought he was on the brink of fulfilling his dream of making it to the major leagues in 2007. But shoulder surgery would derail his hopes of making the team's 40-man roster. Soon, he had pretty much given up on his dream. "I've played so long in the minors, it was kind of hard to believe that I was here," Henderson said. "It's something I didn't picture. I always wanted to be here, but I never thought it would happen." And in the two games that he's been here, Henderson has made quite an impression in a bullpen that desperately needed a spark. His two innings of action have both been scoreless, and he's allowed just one hit. After tallying a 1.69 ERA at Triple-A Nashville, it appears Henderson could be a legitimate help in the Brewers relief corps.For now though, Henderson is just trying to take it all in a dream finally realized, even if it was a bit later than expected. "I guess this is what it takes," Henderson said. "With a guy at my age, you have to put together something pretty spectacular. So this is my only chance." RAMIREZ GETS A DAY OFF Sunday's lineup against the Nationals featured a notable admission on the Brewers side from the team's hottest hitter of the last month. That absence came from third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who since June has been one of the best infielders in the National League with a .326 batting average, seven home runs and 31 RBI. Battling a wrist issue, Ramirez was scheduled to sit out Sunday's game by manager Ron Roenicke before the beginning of the series. There's no reason, at this point to expect Ramirez will miss any further time, as the third baseman admitted that he had been dealing with the pain for a while now. Of course, any time with Ramirez out of the lineup isn't ideal for Milwaukee, as the third baseman has been an extra-base hit machine this season. On pace for the team record in doubles, Ramirez trails Cincinnati's Joey Votto by just one double for the major league lead. "The doubles being up, he's driving the ball to all parts of the park. He's wearing out the right-center wall,' Roenicke said. "The extra-base hits are really important. Whether they're homers or doubles, I think they're really important." Follow Ryan Kartje on Twitter.
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