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Jeffress brought up to bolster Brewers’ bullpen

By Andrew Wagner

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee selected the contract of right-hander Jeremy Jeffress on Monday in the hopes of adding some stability — and power — to the Brewers’ bullpen.

A one-time top prospect in the Brewers’ organization, Jeffress signed a minor league contract with Milwaukee in April after he was released by the Blue Jays.

Assigned to Triple-A Nashville, Jeffress posted a 4-1 record and 1.51 ERA in 30 appearances.

The numbers were impressive enough to earn a spot in Milwaukee for the first time since late in the 2010 season.

“We talked about him a while ago, and I think all of us on the coaching staff have been intrigued with what he’s been doing,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “(General manager) Doug (Melvin) called me last night and said that’s what we were doing.”

Roenkicke has been juggling left-handers in his bullpen this season. With Tyler Thornburgh and Jim Henderson both on the DL, Rob Wooten and Brandon Kintzler have been Roenicke’s only right-handed options and have been less-than-steady options leading to closer Francisco Rodriguez.

“He was (Nashville’s) closer but (manager Rick Sweet) would use him multi-innings,” Roenicke said. “He said he threw him three days in a row once. So he can do pretty much anything.”

The move brings Jeffress, 26, back to the organization that selected him in the first round (16th overall) of the 2006 draft and stuck with him through three positive tests for marijuana use, including a 100-game suspension in 2009.

Jeffress was shipped to Kansas City in December 2010, part of the trade that brought right-hander Zack Grienke to Milwaukee, but after posting a 5.65 ERA in 27 appearances over the next two seasons, his contract was purchased by the Blue Jays.

He finally caught on in Toronto late last season, posting an 0.87 ERA in 10 September appearances but struggled in three outings this season (10.50 ERA) and was given his outright release on April 16.

“I never thought I would be back, I didn’t,” Jeffress said. “I did not think I would be back. I know my time here was a great experience. It was home for me. I felt comfortable here. It was great for me.”