MILWAUKEE—When the Brewers told Triple-A Nashville outfielder Lorenzo Cain to report to Milwaukee on July 5, he figured his big league debut was at hand.
But instead of replacing the injured Yovani Gallardo with Cain, the Brewers opted to activate Doug Davis from the disabled list. So Cain reported back to Nashville without ever donning a Brewers uniform.
"That was tough," he said. "I didn't know what was going on. You just have to wait for your time."
Nine days later, Cain got the call. The 24-year-old joined the Brewers in Atlanta, allowing friends and family to make it from nearby Valdosta, Ga. He went 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter, but atoned by going 3-for-4 with a run scored in his next two games.
Alas, his stay was a short one. The Brewers optioned Cain to Triple-A on July 22 when Gallardo returned from an oblique injury.
"He was impressive, very impressive," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "He certainly has the tools to play center field and steal bases and swing the bat, but he missed a lot of last year with injuries, too."
Macha referred to a knee injury that shelved Cain for much of the 2009 season.
But he bounced back strong this year, batting .324/.409/.434 with 21 stolen bases in 62 games for Double-A Huntsville. He landed in Nashville long enough to go 24-for-70 (.304).
In a career-best showing, Cain batted .319/.405/.437 through 323 at-bats in the high minors this season, while showing leadoff-man attributes with 45 walks and 25 steals in 28 attempts.
If not for missing so much time last season, Cain might be the Brewers' starting center fielder instead of Carlos Gomez.
"He needs to go play," Macha said. "That's not eliminating that he may be back up here in a month or two weeks, or something like that.
"To expose him to major league pitching every day at this particular point in his career would probably do a disservice to him and our organization."
• Righthander Kyle Heckathorn, a supplemental first-round pick in 2009, earned a promotion to high Class A Brevard County after striking out 67 in 85 innings and going 6-6, 2.96 in 17 games for low Class A Wisconsin.
• Second baseman Shea Vucinich, a 20th-round pick out of Washington State this year, began his pro career in style, batting .325/.413/.510 with 17 extra-base hits in 151 at-bats for Rookie-level Helena.