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03/05/09 7:44 PM ET

Several Brewers on the mend

Looper ahead of schedule; Gagne sent for MRI on elbow

PHOENIX -- Brewers manager Ken Macha's daily briefing with the beat reporters has become one long injury report. With head team physician Dr. William Raasch back in camp Thursday morning, there were so many names to discuss that Macha came armed with a note.

Among the names on the manager's list:

Braden Looper: The team's medical staff is encouraged by Looper's recovery from a tight oblique muscle in his left lower back, and the right-hander might be kept off the mound for seven days instead of 10-14.

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Macha also noted that Looper has been able to participate in plyometric throwing exercises since he tweaked the muscle, meaning he will not have to start from scratch when he gets back on the mound. If that is the case, Looper could return to Cactus League action much sooner than expected, and then could be available for the start of the regular season.

"It's going to be small steps every day, and there won't be any giant jumps forward," Macha said.

When Macha set his Spring Training starting rotation, Looper appeared to be in line for Milwaukee's April 10 home opener against the Cubs. Macha will not make his final determinations until March 25, when the Brewers return from their final Arizona off-day.

Eric Gagne: The former closer was sent out Thursday for an MRI exam on his sore right shoulder, calling into doubt his chances of making the team.

Gagne's Minor League contract includes a March 26 "out date" on which he can elect free agency if he's not placed on the roster. Macha conceded that it will be tough to evaluate Gagne in that tight time frame.

"Talking to Eric, he wants to play," Macha said. "How they figure this all out, they will start to develop a path once they read the MRI and see what's going on."

Tony Gwynn Jr.: The outfielder, who had an MRI of his own on Monday, received a cortisone shot Thursday morning for his right shoulder injury and will be shut down for at least three days.

It's another setback for Gwynn, who is way behind in the race for reserve outfield spots, but at least it comes at a good time. Gwynn was to travel home to San Diego, where his wife, Alyse, will give birth to the couple's second child. Assuming all goes well, Gwynn will return to camp Sunday night to continue his rehab.

"He got a shot, and hopefully that will clear [the shoulder inflammation] up," Macha said. "If it doesn't, then how they read that MRI was going to determine how they go on after that."

Angel Salome: Salome has served as a designated hitter in Cactus League games, but has yet to play defense, and on Thursday, Macha revealed why. Salome is sidelined by tightness in the middle of his back, and he departed Maryvale Baseball Park early Thursday after seeing Raasch, presumably for an X-ray and additional off-site tests.

Macha would like to see Salome work behind the plate, because he could be the first line of defense against an injury to one of the Brewers' big league catchers. Salome and Vinny Rottino are ticketed to share playing time at Triple-A Nashville to start the season.

Mat Gamel: Like Gwynn, Gamel has been restricted from throwing since the start of camp because of a sore right shoulder. But unlike Gwynn, Gamel is making positive progress. He played catch with head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger on Thursday and remains about seven days away from full activity.

Gamel served as the designated hitter in Thursday's exhibition against the Australian national team.

David Riske The reliever said he felt "great" after throwing 40 pitches of live batting practice on Thursday with a series of Brewers pitchers standing in the batter's box, and it could be his final hurdle before appearing in a game. Pitching coach Bill Castro said the earliest Riske would pitch in a game is Sunday against the Royals in Surprise, Ariz.

"I'll wait to see how he feels [Friday] to decide what's next," Castro said. "We'll see how he is, but he looked pretty good to me today."

Riske and Gagne are the only pitchers in big league camp yet to pitch in a game.

Mike Rivera: A late addition to the injury report, the Brewers' backup catcher walked off the field just before the start of batting practice while Macha was still chatting with reporters to receive treatment for a strained right hamstring.

A few hours later, the team announced that Rivera had received a cortisone shot and would be sidelined 5-7 days. Milwaukee recalled Minor League backstop Martin Maldonado to big league camp to help shoulder the catching load.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.