MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers placed center fielder Lorenzo Cain on the 10-day injured list Wednesday with a strained left quadriceps, another setback in the veteran’s comeback from sitting out most of the shortened 2020 season.
Cain joined second baseman Kolten Wong (oblique) on the IL. The Brewers were also without left fielder Christian Yelich for the series finale against the Cubs at American Family Field, with Yelich still dealing with the effects of a sore lower back.
“He’s improving,” manager Craig Counsell said regarding Yelich.
That was good news given another setback for Cain, who already won a game for the Brewers this season with a pair of late home runs in Milwaukee's extra-innings win against Chicago on April 7, at Wrigley Field. It’s otherwise been a disjointed start to the year for Cain, who turned 35 on Wednesday and has been playing catch-up ever since he strained his right quadriceps early in Spring Training. That sidelined him from games for several weeks, and it denied Cain some of the foundation he needed after electing to step away after five regular-season games last year over concerns about COVID-19 and his desire to focus on his family and faith.
Cain was injured running out a first-inning groundout in Tuesday’s 3-2 Brewers loss, and he played center field in the top of the second, then departed.
The Brewers promoted Tyrone Taylor from the alternate training site roster to take Cain’s place. And with Cain and Yelich both down, Billy McKinney got his first start for Milwaukee on Wednesday as the left fielder.
“The severity [for Cain] is kind of unknown here,” said Counsell, “but it’s enough for reason to be cautious and give it some time to heal.”
Asked how long he expected Cain to be out, Counsell said, “Again, it’s probably best to give this some time. Otherwise we’re just going to be guessing. We’ll give it through the weekend, and then have a better idea. The hope is obviously that -- I think there’s a chance it’s on the shorter end, but let’s give it through the weekend.”
The Brewers expect to get Wong back sometime during next week’s road trip to San Diego and Chicago, Counsell has said.
Taylor ‘deserving’ of shot
No position player in the organization has boosted his stock more than Taylor over the past year, first with a stellar showing at the alternate training site last summer, then holding his own in the Majors following a late-season promotion last fall and then again this spring.
Taylor delivered an .806 OPS and four extra-base hits in 41 at-bats in the Cactus League.
“He had a great camp,” Counsell said. “I think we all saw that. We talked about it a bunch. He played very well, had a great winter, was in great shape, [and] was really the last guy we sent down at the end of camp because he performed so well. A deserving callup really from how his camp went.”
The Brewers still have outfield coverage thanks to their depth, especially once Yelich returns. Jackie Bradley Jr., Avisaíl García, McKinney and Taylor can each play all three outfield positions. García filled in as their center fielder most of last year, so he is an option to spell Bradley over the next couple of weeks while Cain is out.
• The Brewers have off-days every week during April, so their starting pitchers have consistently been working on extra rest. Is that a good thing this early in a season?
“I would say yes and no,” said Adrian Houser, who is scheduled to start Friday night against the Pirates. “We’ll be wanting these off-days a little later in the season. But I think it does help put us in a good spot for the rest of the season, as far as being able to stay on top of us staying healthy and being able to control a lot of that, and getting the extra rest and treatment if we need it. So I think there’s good and bad to the early off-days.”
• Left-hander Angel Perdomo struck out Javier Báez and Jason Heyward during an impressive season debut on Tuesday, and he has the raw stuff to be a late-inning reliever. But he will have to earn those assignments.
"I think, ultimately, that's where you're trying to get every player -- into the big spots in the game,” Counsell said. “Angel is a young pitcher. I think building a foundation with young pitchers is important. And we'll try to continue to do that with Angel. I think he's talented enough to do a lot, but I also think it's important to build a foundation with him and build confidence with him. He's taken a big step this year. He's another player, like J.P. [Feyereisen], to me, who showed up to camp just kind of in a different place with a lot more confidence, with a lot more comfort with the Brewers. And it's showed up with how he's performed on the field."