Hall, Hardy shakeup casualties

The slumping Milwaukee Brewers sent former All-Star shortstop J.J. Hardy to the minors Wednesday, designated third baseman Bill Hall for assignment and fired pitching coach Bill Castro.

The shakeup will give top prospect, Alcides Escobar, a chance to show he’s the shortstop of the future and a potential leadoff man the club sorely lacks. He’s batting .298 with four homers, 34 RBIs and 42 stolen bases in 109 games.

Hardy, an All-Star in 2007, has been mired in a season-long slump, batting .229 with 11 homers and 45 RBI. He will go to Triple-A Nashville. The Brewers will eat about $11 million in salary to Hall.

Youkilis, Porcello suspended, fined

Boston star Kevin Youkilis and Detroit pitcher Rick Porcello were suspended for five games each and fined by Major League Baseball, a day after their brawl at Fenway Park.

Youkilis began his suspension during Wednesday night’s game against Detroit. Porcello appealed, and no penalty will take effect until the process is complete.

MLB vice president Bob Watson cited Youkilis for charging the mound, throwing his helmet at Porcello and inciting Tuesday night’s bench-clearing tussle. Porcello was penalized for intentionally throwing pitches at Victor Martinez in the first inning and Youkilis in the second.

Short hops

Jordan Zimmermann will have reconstructive elbow surgery next week, leaving the Washington Nationals without their top pitching prospect for at least a year. The normal recovery period is 12 to 18 months, a timetable that could keep the 23-year-old Zimmermann out until the 2011 season. … The Kansas City Royals granted right-hander Sidney Ponson (1-7) unconditional release waivers, making the veteran a free agent. … New York Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado’s rehabilitation after May hip surgery has been put on hold because of a strained right oblique muscle. … The Colorado Rockies selected the contract of right-hander Adam Eaton, who played at Snohomish High School, from Triple-A Colorado Springs and transferred left-hander Alan Embree, out of Prairie High School, to the 60-day disabled list. … Infielder Rich Aurilia went back on San Francisco’s 15-day disabled list so outfielder Nate Schierholtz could be activated.