PITTSBURGH -- The Brewers have called up right-hander Francisco Rodriguez. The veteran reliever could have opted out of his Minor League contract if he was not added to the roster Wednesday. He was not activated for Wednesday night's game.
The Brewers will activate Rodriguez on Thursday. Following Wednesday night's game they optioned catcher Blake Lalli to Triple-A Nashville and transferred infielder Taylor Green to the 60-day disabled list.
Rodriguez, 31, threw four scoreless innings with seven strikeouts in four Minor League appearances in recent weeks. He signed the Minor League deal in April. Last season with the Brewers, Rodriguez pitched to a 4.38 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 72 innings. He went 4-0 after joining the Brewers during the 2011 season, with a 1.86 ERA.
"Velocity-wise he's back up to, I don't know if he's quite where he was last year, but he's 90-91," manager Ron Roenicke said. "The changeup has been good. I saw the outing two nights ago, and he got through the inning OK and then was better on Tuesday morning. So we'll see."
Roenicke was not sure how he would use Rodriguez out of the bullpen.
"I think we just kind of look at where we are and the matchups and who is being used," Roenicke said. "Hopefully some guys will start putting themselves in position to where we can put them in an inning and feel good about it."
Axford feels stronger, but success remains elusive
PITTSBURGH -- Reliever John Axford's late-inning struggles continued Tuesday night against the Pirates. Axford coughed up a 3-2 lead, giving up a run in the eighth inning. The Pirates eventually won the game, 4-3, on a walk-off home run by Andrew McCutchen in the 12th inning.
Axford exited the game 0-3 with a 9.20 ERA and three blown saves.
"I definitely am frustrated," Axford said. "I can't lie about that, but I feel strong, I feel good and that's where I've got to keep building off of. The first four games of this season, that wasn't me, and that's something I can get a wash too and brush that away. I felt different; my mechanics weren't quite right.
"Since then, my mechanics have been more on par, and I felt great, I felt stronger, my velocity is better, my breaking pitches are better and that's the guy I want to be for the rest of the year. I've just had a couple of tough breaks in there, too, so I've got to just keep fighting it and keep doing what I'm doing right now. That's the pitcher I want to be, hopefully with some better luck."
Axford's problems have put Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke in a bind.
"I don't know; it's hard to figure out," Roenicke stated. "We still have confidence in him, and nothing seems to go right. So we'll see."
Roenicke gives updates on Hart, Narveson
PITTSBURGH -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said first baseman Corey Hart and left-hander Chris Narveson were making progress rehabbing from injuries.
Hart is on the 60-day disabled list recovering from right knee surgery. Narveson is on the 15-day disabled list with an injured middle finger on his left hand.
"Hart has been out running four days now without trying to take the weight off it," Roenicke said. "That is a good sign; we're still probably a couple weeks away from him going out on a rehab. That's kind of guessing -- I don't mean exactly -- but we're somewhere in there. Then we'll see how long he goes out for."
Roenicke added that Narveson had thrown a light bullpen session.
"He did that three days ago," Roenicke said. "I think we will have a few of those with him, and then get him some live hitters."
• The Brewers have outscored their opponents by a large margin in the first inning this season. Through Tuesday's games, they had allowed the fewest first-inning runs (nine) and scored the most (34), giving them the largest first-inning margin (+25) in the Major Leagues.
• Tuesday night against Jeff Locke began a four-game stretch in which the Brewers are facing a left-handed starter. Although the team is 4-9 when an opposing lefty starts, the Brewers are batting .291 against left-handed pitchers this season, which ranks second in the National League.
George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.