Woodruff seeks advice on road to recovery

May 2nd, 2023

This story was excerpted from Adam McCalvy’s Brewers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

MILWAUKEE --  polled a handful of other pitchers who came back from a subscapular strain, and they all offered the same advice: Be patient.

Woodruff has been on the injured list with that ailment for going on three weeks and just recently began his comeback after a follow-up MRI last week showed some healing. He’ll travel with the Brewers this week to Colorado and San Francisco to do plyometric exercises before resuming throwing on the next homestand. That starts a build-up similar to the one Woodruff and other pitchers undergo during Spring Training, which explains why the Brewers don’t expect him back until the end of June at the earliest.

“It’s not a deadline,” Woodruff stressed. “Just a timeline.”

Among the fellow pitchers with whom Woodruff consulted were Cleveland’sShane Bieber after Brewers infielder Owen Miller, a former Bieber teammate, was kind enough to put Woodruff in contact, Angels Minor League right-hander and fellow Mississippian James Holder and Brewers veteran left-hander , who might as well be called Dr. Miley since he diagnosed Woodruff’s injury two days before Woodruff had his initial MRI.

At the time, Woodruff and the Brewers still believed the injury was minor and would require only a minimum stint on the injured list, but Miley’s hunch said differently based on Woodruff’s symptoms and Miley’s own experience with a subscapular strain last year with the Cubs.

The Brewers have held it together despite their many personnel losses, which included , and during Spring Training, on Opening Day, Woodruff on the opening homestand and  on the first long road trip. Every one of those players has already missed or will miss a month or more. And yet the team finished April at 18-10.

That’s what being a team is all about, Woodruff said.

“I don't look at myself as being 'above.' I just try to come out and help win baseball games and just try to do my job,” he said. “You know what, we're playing good baseball. We've held it together and hopefully we'll have some reinforcements coming. We've just got a lot of pieces that we still need to put together.”

Woodruff has been advised to treat his injury like a hamstring strain, a notoriously tricky injury for athletes because they’ll feel good for weeks but then suffer a relapse when they find that high gear that comes only with the competition.

Similarly, Woodruff felt so good the past few days that his heart tells him he could pick up a baseball and start throwing now; his mind (and the Brewers’ medical staff) assure him that’s not the case.

“My body's gonna tell me when I'm ready,” Woodruff said. “I'm not going to rush it, I'm not going to come back too quick. I don't think that's good for myself or for anybody else. I'm just happy now that I have a goal to look forward to.”