MILWAUKEE -- After a discouraging return to the batting cage on Saturday, the Brewers opted to place outfielder Christian Yelich on the 10-day disabled list Sunday morning with a right oblique injury.The team is flush with outfield options, so another reliever, Taylor Williams, was summoned to bolster a bullpen that
MILWAUKEE -- After a discouraging return to the batting cage on Saturday, the Brewers opted to place outfielder Christian Yelich on the 10-day disabled list Sunday morning with a right oblique injury.
The team is flush with outfield options, so another reliever, Taylor Williams, was summoned to bolster a bullpen that was nine arms strong for Sunday's 3-0 loss to the Cubs before the Brewers optioned right-hander Adrian Houser back to the Minors after the game. They will make a corresponding callup on Monday in St. Louis.
Meanwhile, the Yelich move was backdated to Thursday, so he will be eligible to return as early as April 15 for Milwaukee's series finale against the Mets in New York.
Yelich, who hit a tying, two-out home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of Tuesday's walk-off win over the Cardinals for his first Brewers homer, was injured swinging the bat the next night, though he cannot pinpoint the swing that did it. On Saturday, he tried to hit for the first time in three days and reported continued discomfort, prompting the DL decision.
An MRI scan was clean, Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
Asked whether he expected Yelich to spend just the minimum 10 days on the DL, Counsell said, "That's a possibility. But I want to give him time to heal."
"It's more frustrating than anything," Yelich said. "I wanted to push it and be back out there. But they said just get it right and be ready to go once I can come off the DL. I understand why that decision was made, especially what we kind of need as a team right now. You understand it as a player. Obviously, you want to be out there, but this is the decision that was made, and now it's my job to get it right, get healthy and get back out there."
The Brewers acquired the 26-year-old via a trade with the Marlins on Jan. 25, the same day they struck a free-agent agreement with fellow outfielder Lorenzo Cain. Yelich hit .385 and slugged .577 over his first six games of the season.
The Brewers are well-positioned to cover Yelich's absence, after they spent Spring Training answering a litany of questions about a perceived outfield logjam. Brewers general manager David Stearns doggedly called it depth, and that depth was on display again Sunday when Counsell fielded a lineup with Ryan Braun in left field, Cain in center and Domingo Santana in right.
Super-utility man Hernan Perez has been the primary outfield backup during Yelich's absence, and Eric Sogard can also play left in a pinch. If the Brewers opt to add another outfielder on Monday, Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips have Major League experience and Minor League options.
"We've got guys to play, for sure. We like our choices here," Counsell said. "We're going to miss the left-handed bat; I think that's the big thing. Christian Yelich is a really good player and we're going to miss him. But we're equipped that way roster-wise."
Williams, Houser contribute; Houser sent down
Williams was the third reliever promoted from the Minors in as many days, following the arrival of Houser on Friday, after Corey Knebel was placed on the DL, and J.J. Hoover on Saturday, when Brandon Woodruff was optioned because the Brewers needed a fresh reliever.
Williams made an immediate entrance at Miller Park on Sunday, notching three strikeouts with an unearned run allowed on two hits in the seventh inning against the Cubs. Houser followed with two scoreless innings before he was sent back to Double-A Biloxi, marking his first appearance in the Majors since a pair of relief appearances for the Brewers in September 2015.
Houser notched three strikeouts and one defensive gem when he snared Addison Russell's line drive to end the eighth inning.
"I couldn't really feel the ball coming out of my hand," he said. "I was that excited. I'm glad to be back out there and put up some good innings."
Both prospects -- Houser No. 13 on MLB Pipeline's list of Brewers prospects and Williams No. 18 -- are back from Tommy John surgery. Williams missed all of 2015 and '16, and Houser missed much of '16 and '17 before a strong showing in last year's Arizona Fall League.
"My approach," Williams said of being one of the Brewers' final cuts after a sparkling Spring Training, "was to go down with a positive attitude and a positive mindset that if I take care of what I need to take care of and get better and keep working, that I would be up here soon."
Williams pitched sparingly in the Minors and in the Majors last year. But he navigated back-to-back outings during Spring Training with no issues, and Counsell said he would have no problem using Williams like any other reliever.
The Brewers expect to be flexible with the final spots in the rotation and bullpen this season to keep a fresh crop of pitchers, and both Houser and Williams can be moved back and forth between the Minors and Majors this season thanks to their option. Houser was the first to be brought up and sent back down.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.