Yelich to have MRI to 'get answers' on back

Anderson, Lindblom to IL; Woodruff putting bad blood with Cubs behind him

April 24th, 2021

On the day he was eligible to come off the 10-day injured list from a bout of back stiffness, instead was back in Milwaukee on Saturday for an MRI scan that he and the Brewers hope will reveal some answers.

The team was optimistic just a day earlier that the weekend would bring better news for its superstar left fielder, who hit in the cage at Wrigley Field on Friday and took part in other baseball activities on the field during batting practice. He has not played since April 11 in St. Louis.

“With Christian, unfortunately, we’ve hit a bit of a plateau here,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Nothing bad happened [Friday]. He did the day of work that we were expecting. We’re just at a plateau so we are just trying to rule everything out and see if we can get another piece of information.

“It’s frustrating for Christian. He’s frustrated. So, we’re trying to rule everything out and get as many answers as we can.”

Yelich has history with a balky back but had never been affected by it during his Brewers tenure to the point of an IL stint until this month. He did land on the IL with a lower back strain in 2014 and in ’15 with the Marlins.

If the MRI reveals no structural damage, Counsell said, “I don’t think rest would be the answer. I think we’ll continue activity. But I do think we have to recognize that we’ve plateaued a little bit here, and that’s what today is about. Hopefully this [MRI] adds a piece of information that will let us progress. Christian is not feeling good enough to go full bore.”

Even though Yelich’s current flare-up is believed on the minor side, it comes amid a flurry of muscle injuries that have tested the Brewers’ position-player depth. Center fielder Lorenzo Cain remains on the 10-day IL with a left quad strain, though he had a full day of pregame activity on the field Saturday, which was the first day he’s eligible for reinstatement.

“This is kind of a steppingstone day for him,” Counsell said.

Right fielder Avisaíl García, meanwhile, exited Saturday’s game with back tightness and didn’t improve enough overnight to be in the starting lineup on Saturday. The Brewers are being cautious so it doesn’t worsen to something more serious, according to Counsell.

Anderson, Lindblom both placed on IL
The right leg injury that cut short ’s start against the Cubs after 11 pitches on Friday has landed the left-hander on the 10-day injured list with a right leg injury, and he wasn’t alone. The pitcher who followed Anderson to the mound and was among the pitchers positioned for that spot in the rotation, , was placed on the 10-day IL himself about two hours later due to fluid in his right knee.

The Brewers called up right-handed reliever Phil Bickford and outfielder, former first-round Draft pick and Chicago native Corey Ray to fill the open roster spots. Ray, the club's No. 24 prospect, was in line for his long-awaited Major League debut.

As for the rotation, the Brewers will need to name a starter for Anderson’s next scheduled outing on Wednesday against the Marlins at American Family Field. The schedule doesn’t offer any help to skip that spot; Friday began a stretch of 17 consecutive game days.

“I think we’re set up pretty good,” said Brandon Woodruff, who starts Sunday as the Brewers begin their fifth turn through the starting rotation. “I know [Friday] was not the ideal situation for Josh. I know it’s been tough for him pitching sparingly, but listen, he’s a good pitcher. …

“It’s just real early. We’ve got a ton of time left. Josh is a great pitcher, and I think if they slot him in right into the rotation, we’ll be just fine and hopefully get him in a groove and hopefully get him going because we’re going to need him. I think he’s positioned to step right in, or whoever they want to go to, so I think that’s kind of our calling card, is pitching depth. I think we’ll be just fine.”

The Brewers’ announcement called Anderson’s injury a strained right hamstring, but Counsell characterized the injury as being in his upper calf, behind the knee. Either way, Counsell said it was to be determined how much time Anderson is projected to miss.

Woodruff vs. the Cubs again
Woodruff says he will be focused on beating the Cubs when he takes the mound Sunday at Wrigley Field, not on settling any scores.

It was just last week that Cubs reliever Ryan Tepera fired a 95 mph fastball behind Woodruff’s legs, drew a three-game suspension, then took the rare step of admitting he did it on purpose. Tepera said he had no malicious intent, but on the other hand, he said, "It was just a message that we had had enough" of the hit batsmen that have dotted the teams’ season series, particularly at the expense of Cubs catcher Willson Contreras.

"I get it. I know you want me to try to say something, but I’ll put it behind me,” Woodruff said. “It is what it is. I know that's kind of a big story, but I'm not looking at [Sunday] as, 'I'm going to come in here and hurt somebody' or something. That's not it at all. I'm just trying to compete and I'm trying to throw strikes and I'm trying to get outs and that's it. I'm not worried about anything else. I knew the questions would come, but seriously, I haven't thought about that since that series ended, and I'm totally just focused on trying to do my job."

Woodruff will be facing the Cubs for the third time in four starts after holding Chicago to one run on four hits over 13 innings in his first two outings, with one walk and 14 strikeouts.