Zimmermann back with Crew on Minors deal

JBJ's offseason surgery; Woodruff ready for Opening Day

March 28th, 2021

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- could have tried his luck elsewhere after the Brewers released him from a Minor League contract on Friday, but the Wisconsin native opted to stay put.

“I knew this is where I wanted to be,” Zimmermann said. “I didn’t really explore anything else.”

Zimmermann re-signed with the Brewers on Saturday morning on another Minor League deal, less than 24 hours after the club released him. He was one of two veterans in camp as non-roster invitees, with reliever Brad Boxberger, who’d signed as Article XX(B) free agents. Five days prior to Opening Day, they must either be added to the 26-man roster, paid a $100,000 retention bonus or released.

The Brewers chose the latter scenario with both. Now, Zimmermann is back, and he’s agreed to eventually report to the team’s alternate training site when it opens in the second week of April.

“It all comes down to a business move,” Zimmermann said. “They obviously want to keep me around, but they didn’t want to pay the money. I understand. The fact they wanted to keep me around means a lot to me. The last couple of outings were really good for me, and I feel like I have a lot left and can help this team at some point during the season.”

After a mid-spring pause in his Cactus League schedule, Zimmermann delivered consecutive scoreless outings against the Mariners (one inning on March 14) and the Reds (two innings on March 20). He was less effective against the Royals in Saturday's 6-6 tie, allowing three runs on five hits in the first frame of a two-inning relief stint. Zimmermann’s second inning, however, was clean.

The Brewers liked Zimmermann all along, especially recently when he shifted from a contender for the starting rotation to pitching in shorter stints with a revised pitch mix from the more power arsenal that made him one of the National League’s top starting pitchers between 2011-15 with Washington. That performance, including two All-Star Games and two top 10 finishes in the NL Cy Young Award balloting, earned Zimmermann a five-year, $110 million contract in Detroit, where he struggled with injuries and poor performance before becoming a free agent again last winter.

Zimmermann’s decision came down to two teams -- the Nationals and his home-state Brewers (he still lives near Stevens Point, Wis.) -- or retirement. Zimmermann chose Milwaukee.

“When I started working out, everything felt good and the Brewers called, and I was pumped about that,” he said. “My body feels really, really good. I feel like I made the right move in not retiring. I feel like I can help this team out.”

The Minor League seasons don’t start until the first week of May, so Zimmermann and other players in the Brewers’ depth pool will travel with the team to Arlington for exhibitions on Monday and Tuesday, then to Milwaukee and will stay sharp at American Family Field until the alternate training site opens at the home of the Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers near Appleton, Wis., on April 12.

JBJ had offseason surgery
After going 2-for-3 with one walk and two runs scored against the Royals in his return from a four-day absence due to an inflamed right wrist, outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. said he was “very confident” he’d be ready for Opening Day.

Bradley, who signed with Milwaukee soon after the start of Spring Training, connected his recent setback to a previously unreported surgery for a ganglion cyst in his wrist, which had bothered him for three years but had been treated with occasional cortisone shots. A Red Sox doctor approved one last shot last year, Bradley said, if he promised to finally have the issue addressed. Bradley underwent surgery two days after the regular season.

“I obviously wanted to get it removed, but I wanted to make sure I can finish the season first,” Bradley said.

What made the wrist flare up again?

“During the offseason you can do things, but you can kind of control your volume,” Bradley said. “And obviously coming into Spring Training, the volume is going to be a lot heavier. So, I just think it was just getting used to the volume and the workload."

Bradley was part of a productive 1-2 punch at the top of Milwaukee’s lineup on Saturday, as he and Lorenzo Cain each reached safely three times and combined to score five runs, including Cain’s sixth-inning solo home run.

Last call
• After throwing 78 pitches and striking out seven in 4 1/3 innings against the Royals in his final spring tune-up, Brewers Opening Day starter Brandon Woodruff said he was “as ready as I can get” to face the Twins on Thursday at American Family Field. He’s been working on a slight tweak to his changeup grip lately after conversations with Devin Williams.

• Minor League first baseman Dustin Peterson left Saturday’s game complaining of dizziness and right hip soreness after a foul-ground collision with outfielder Tyrone Taylor in the seventh inning. Taylor remained in the game but may have absorbed the worst of it, Counsell said, after taking a blow to his thigh. He’ll be evaluated on Sunday.

• The Brewers and White Sox are working to schedule games between their alternate site squads before the start of Minor League seasons, Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said. Brewers Triple-A manager Rick Sweet said recently that the club had also discussed playing some games against the Twins.