Jesse Litsch is having a trial as a reliever after starting for most of his career. Carlos Villanueva is on the disabled list because of a right forearm strain after moving from the bullpen to the rotation.
It means a couple of recent recruits from the minors have been given a chance in the major league rotation.
Henderson Alvarez, 21, made his major league debut on Wednesday and showed promise in allowing eight hits and three runs in 5 2/3 innings although he did not figure in the decision in the 8-4 victory over Oakland. He was called up from Class AA New Hampshire.
Left-hander Brad Mills was not so fortunate in Thursday's 10-3 loss to Oakland. The 26-year-old allowed six runs, all in his last inning of the game, the third. It was his shortest of his eight major league starts.
Mills didn't get the best of breaks. Left-fielder Eric Thames was less than stellar on a two-run double and a two-run triple in the third. It left Mills at 1-2 with a 6.46 ERA in three starts since being called up from Class AAA Las Vegas.
He went a strong seven innings against Texas on July 30, allowing two runs in a 3-0 loss. He beat Baltimore Aug. 5, allowing four hits and three runs in 5 1/3 innings.
"The fastball location up in the zone is where he got hurt most," manager John Farrell said.
Said Mills: "It's not the first time I've had a bad inning; it won't be the last," Mills said. "It's not the end of the world, but I feel bad that I wasn't able to help the team get off to a good start.
"It's not the first time I've failed out there; it won't be the last. I'm mentally tough enough to come back and get over it real quick."
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