MILWAUKEE (AP) -Brewers starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo made his second rehab start on Wednesday, and he's close to forcing Milwaukee to make its final decision about the starting rotation.
Gallardo, coming off arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, struck out six in 5 1-3 innings for Triple-A Nashville and the Brewers have consistently said Gallardo would be ready in mid-April to rejoin the team.
Gallardo took the loss in his rehab start, giving up two runs and seven hits on 90 pitches, and could make his next start on the upcoming nine-game road trip Milwaukee begins in New York on Friday. The Brewers are also mulling Gallardo making a final start in Triple-A and said they'll make a decision on Thursday.
``We're still discussing it,'' Brewers manager Ned Yost said. ``For me, I want him to go 100 pitches. I want him to be ready to come up here and throw 110 pitches, which he should be able to do. Again, we'll just see how he rebounds. They said he threw the ball very well.''
Another factor in bringing the right-hander up could be the weather and an off day during the trip. If Gallardo stays on regular rest, he would be ready to start Monday. The Brewers are off that day, but heavy rain is forecast throughout the weekend in New York, where Milwaukee opens a three-game series with the Mets on Friday, and if a game is delayed both teams could make it up on Monday.
Milwaukee then heads to St. Louis on Tuesday before rounding out the trip in Cincinnati.
The Brewers began the spring with eight candidates for the starting rotation. But Gallardo hurt his knee just before camp began, and Chris Capuano is trying to rehab his ailing left elbow instead of another ligament replacement surgery after he had the procedure done in 2002.
Milwaukee released Claudio Vargas, who had gone 11-6 in 2007 for the Brewers, and handed the final rotation spots to Carlos Villanueva, Dave Bush and left-hander Manny Parra until Gallardo returns.
``It's going to be a tough decision any way you look at it,'' Yost said. ``It's up to us to decide what's best not only for Dave Bush, but what's best for the Milwaukee Brewers too or Manny Parra or whoever else we decide needs to vacate the final place for Gallardo, but again, we're not there yet.''
Gallardo, who made his major league debut June 18, pitched so well down the stretch last year, going 9-5 with a 3.67 ERA with 101 strikeouts in 110 1-3 innings, that he solidified a starting rotation slot even with the injury.

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