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Murphy recovering at home; roster moves

@AdamMcCalvy
August 3, 2020

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers bench coach Pat Murphy was released from the hospital on Monday and was recovering at home following Saturday’s heart attack, manager Craig Counsell said. Recalling the events, Counsell described a terrifying day. But also, a “great day,” as he put it. “When I was driving home from

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers bench coach Pat Murphy was released from the hospital on Monday and was recovering at home following Saturday’s heart attack, manager Craig Counsell said.

Recalling the events, Counsell described a terrifying day. But also, a “great day,” as he put it.

“When I was driving home from the hospital on Saturday night after seeing him, you think to yourself, ‘Man, this is a great day,’” Counsell said. “My friend just had a heart attack and I got to go see him, and he’s out of the procedure, and he’s doing pretty good. The doctors are giving him a good diagnosis.

“So, that’s the only way you can think right now. There’s so much going on, there’s no other way to think about this. There has certainly been a lot happening, but your friend survived a heart attack. He’s home and out of the hospital already, so you just feel thankful.”

Murphy began to feel ill following a group infield drill at Miller Park on Saturday as the Brewers got some work in while their series against the Cardinals was postponed. Two heroes may have saved his life. According to Counsell, it was Brewers assistant athletic trainer Rafael Freitas who saw Murphy sitting on the bench in the dugout and recognized something was wrong. Team physician Dr. Mark Niedfeldt happened to be on site, and he diagnosed the heart attack immediately. An ambulance was summoned, which transported Murphy to Froedtert Hospital and a waiting team of cardiologists, who installed a stent.

The Brewers expect Murphy back in the dugout sometime this season, but there is no firm timetable. The team did not immediately name an interim replacement on the Major League staff.

Calling Murphy a “friend” does not tell the full story of the relationship between Counsell, 49, and Murphy, 61, who was Counsell’s college coach at Notre Dame, and has often told the story of Counsell sustaining a broken nose on a bad-hop ground ball, leaving practice for treatment, and returning an hour later to take more ground balls.

"When you go to college, you're growing up, you're learning about baseball, about life," Counsell once said. "It's an impressionable time in your life, and I learned a lot from him. More than anything, I think he was a person who made me mentally tough, because he challenges you a lot."

Counsell brought Murphy to Milwaukee to be bench coach prior to the 2016 season.

“I saw the news, and I’m definitely keeping Murph in my thoughts and prayers,” Brewers outfielder Ben Gamel said. “You know, ‘Couns’ always has a pretty good plan moving forward, so he’s definitely someone I wouldn’t worry about. But it definitely hurts not having [Murphy] on the bench with his personality and the charisma he brings to this clubhouse.”

Roster moves
The Brewers made a series of roster moves before returning to the field Monday, reinstating starter Brett Anderson from the injured list and filling the two position player vacancies left by Lorenzo Cain, who announced Saturday he had elected not to play the remainder of 2020, and Ryan Braun, who was placed on the 10-day IL Sunday with an infected right index finger.

The Brewers optioned catcher Jacob Nottingham back to the alternate training site to clear a spot on the 30-man roster for Anderson, and they used the other openings to recall a pair of utility types: Ryon Healy and Mark Mathias. Healy got right to work as the Brewers’ designate hitter and leadoff man.

In addition to those big league transactions, the Brewers formally added outfielder Hedbert Perez and right-hander Justin Topa to the 60-man player pool after they passed intake testing, and assigned them to the alternate training site. Both are Brewers prospects who were already in the Minor League system.

Miller elects not to play
Veteran right-hander Shelby Miller joined Cain in exercising his prerogative not to play the remainder of the 2020 season.

The 29-year-old was a non-roster invitee to Spring Training and Summer Camp after dropping weight and refining his arsenal in the Brewers’ pitching lab. He did not make Milwaukee’s Opening Day roster, and had been working out at the team’s alternate training site awaiting a callup to the Majors.

The Brewers considered Miller part of their starting pitching depth behind the seven starter-types currently on the active Major League roster: Anderson, Brandon Woodruff, Adrian Houser, Josh Lindblom, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta. With Miller out, the top backups in Appleton are pitchers like Zack Brown, Jake Faria, Trey Supak and potentially Drew Rasmussen, though Rasmussen may profile more as a back-end relief option.

Gamel steps into starting role
Both Counsell and Gamel, who stands to absorb a bulk of the at-bats left behind by Cain, said they were initially surprised that Cain elected not to play the remainder of 2020.

“I was pretty bummed at first,” Gamel said. “Losing a guy like that is never good. The competition he brings to the field every day, we’re definitely going to miss him. There’s not many people like him in center, so you know we’re definitely going to miss that. We’ve got to pull together as a group.”

Counsell said Avisaíl García, and not Gamel, would be the primary center fielder in Cain’s wake, since he is more likely than Gamel to be in the regular lineup. Gamel started in right field on Monday against the White Sox.

Said Counsell of Cain: “As I digested a little bit and talked with him a little bit, it all made perfect sense. He had thought about this. It’s not a decision you make that day; you’ve been thinking about it for a while when you make a decision like this. So, he had been thinking about this for a while. He gave it a shot. I think we should be thankful for that. He tried. He went through camp, he went through the first week of the year. I think it’s safe to say the news of the Cardinals was jarring, and may have been the final straw. But he tried to get through it. It just didn’t feel right for him.”

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.