MILWAUKEE -- When they met behind closed doors in the manager's office in Spring Training, Ron Roenicke did not exactly promise Brewers right-hander Mike McClendon, "You'll be back."

But Roenicke made clear in that meeting, held to inform McClendon that he wouldn't be on Milwaukee's Opening Day roster, that the big right-hander would be high on the Brewers' list of in-season call-ups.

"I told him we liked what we saw out of him [in Spring Training]," Roenicke said. "We've always liked what we've seen out of him because he's a strike-thrower. Myself, Rick [Kranitz, the pitching coach] and the guys upstairs are all comfortable with a guy who will come in and challenge people. You don't have to worry about him coming in and walking the bases loaded."

The Brewers called-up McClendon on Friday to replace Marco Estrada, who moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation with lefty Chris Narveson sidelined by a shoulder injury.

McClendon, 27, also appeared briefly in the Majors in 2010 and 2011. He has a 2.86 ERA in his first 26 big league appearances.

"I'm just enjoying the moments I do have here," he said. "I know they were happy with how I showed up in spring and how I was throwing the ball in Spring Training. I definitely took that as a good [thing] and I kept it rolling through the beginning of the season.

"I still feel like I did when I left Spring Training. This is the best, I feel, like I've been doing. The ball is coming out of my hand a little bit smoother than it has in the past. Stuff-wise, it's about as good as it has been, ever. And command has been there, too. Can't complain right now."

Crew looks to fill in for Narveson from within

MILWAUKEE -- Assuming injured starter Chris Narveson faces an extended absence, general manager Doug Melvin said the Brewers will try to fill from within before exploring external pitching options.

Narveson is on the 15-day disabled list with a tear to the rotator cuff in his left shoulder. Brewers doctors have recommended surgery that would likely end Narveson's season, though he will seek a second opinion.

Right-hander Marco Estrada started Saturday against the Rockies in Narveson's place, with top prospect Wily Peralta up temporarily from Triple-A Nashville and available as backup. Peralta is only expected to stay while reliever Kameron Loe is on the bereavement list, so it appears Estrada will get an extended look.

"We'll go this route for now," Melvin said. "Wily will more than likely be at Triple-A and stay ready. This gives you a little bit of time to look at [Estrada], the same way he filled in for [Zack] Greinke last year."

If Estrada falters, or the Brewers decide he's more valuable in the bullpen, they could try Peralta. Or, club officials could explore outside options. If they try to trade for a starter, the Brewers' strongest area of depth is in the outfield. If Melvin looks to the open market, the most talked-about free agent remains Roy Oswalt, who has been throwing bullpens every other day to stay ready, according to FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. Oswalt has been linked most often to the Red Sox and Cardinals.

The Brewers have already pushed their payroll well past their original expectations, over the $100 million mark. But principal owner Mark Attanasio has been aggressive before when Melvin has identified "the right player."

For now, the Brewers view Estrada as that guy.

"It just means you have to keep your eyes and ears open, but you let him have the opportunity," Melvin said.

Last call

Melvin declined to say whether the Red Sox called about the Brewers' stable of outfielders, which includes prospects Logan Schafer and Caleb Gindl. On Saturday, Boston traded for slumping Cubs veteran Marlon Byrd.