MILWAUKEE — It has been almost two years since Jimmy Nelson pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers in a game that mattered.
So yeah, he knows he's going to be emotional when he takes the mound Wednesday against Miami.
"I woke up really early this morning, couldn't really sleep," Nelson said before Tuesday's 16-0 loss to the Marlins. "I'm just real anxious, excited about it. It was really good to see all the guys. There's a good family feel in there. They're all genuinely concerned about not just me, but the family, too. It's always nice to be back in a familiar place with all your brothers."
Nelson is stepping into the rotation again after Milwaukee placed Jhoulys Chacín and Gio González on the injured list Sunday. Chacín has a strained lower back and González is working through arm fatigue, adding to the significance of Nelson's return for the contending Brewers.
Nelson was working on a breakout season in 2017 when he injured his pitching shoulder diving back to first after rounding the base on a single. He had surgery and missed last year, when Milwaukee won the division title and made it to the NL Championship Series.
He originally was scheduled to begin his rehab assignment in late April, but that was delayed when his twin daughters were born prematurely. He was activated off the IL last month and optioned to Triple-A San Antonio so he could stay on a regular schedule.
Now he's back. Taking the ball on his 30th birthday, too.
"Things got pretty rough for a couple of months," Nelson said. "You always think, 'Oh, I just went through the last hurdle,' but it was just another hurdle that was there. I'm glad I'm over that and I'm able to be here. Yeah, there's a lot of growth."
Nelson also said his twins are doing well.
"They're still in the hospital, but hopefully they'll be home in the next couple of days," he said.
Nelson was selected by Milwaukee in the second round of the 2010 draft and made his major league debut with the Brewers in 2013. He was 12-6 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts when he got hurt on that September slide against the Cubs.
Manager Craig Counsell said he thinks his team will draw some energy from Nelson's return.
"He's had setbacks through this that have been very difficult mentally," Counsell said. "Everybody is going to be happy for him, for sure. It's going to be a big day for Jimmy."
The Brewers will have to make a roster move to activate Nelson, who is 33-44 with a 4.12 ERA in 109 major league games, including 104 starts.
Third baseman Travis Shaw came off the injured list Tuesday and went 2 for 3 with a walk in the loss to Miami. Shaw got off to a tough start this season, strained his right wrist in May and then worked on his swing during his rehab assignment with San Antonio.
The Brewers sent top prospect Keston Hiura back to the minors to make room for Shaw, who hit 32 homers last year.
"For me, this is opening day," Shaw said. "That's my mindset going in. What has happened in the past, I can't change that. Everybody knows it's been a grind this season. It has been very negative, not a lot of results. But for me it's opening day and we start from here."