Cain at a loss: 'Swing is all over the place'

June 4th, 2022

MILWAUKEE -- Lorenzo Cain has been around a long time and has no illusions about what will happen to his playing time once the Brewers get a little healthier.

“Mentally, honestly, I don’t know what to do up there right now,” Cain said on Friday. “My swing is kind of all over the place. I haven’t been able to figure things out. They already told me before [right fielder Hunter] Renfroe got hurt that my playing time was probably going to be a lot less. But Renfroe got hurt, so I’ve had to get in there probably more than they want me to right now.

“The situation is what it is right now. As long as I’m in there, I’m going to go out and compete and try to get it done. If I don’t, hey, that’s all you can do.”

With an 0-for-3 performance Friday -- a night the Brewers were held to one hit in a 7-0 loss to the Padres -- Cain is batting .175 with a .464 OPS in the final season of a five-year, $80 million contract.

Cain said the word about his planned drop in playing time came from manager Craig Counsell in a conversation several days before the start of the Brewers’ last marathon road trip. But in the first game of that trip, Renfroe strained his right hamstring scoring from first base on a double and landed on the 10-day injured list the next day. Renfroe has been in rehab mode since then and lately has been hitting and running on the field.

When Renfroe returns, which could happen as early as Tuesday, the Brewers will have more flexibility with decisions about playing time. Christian Yelich is hitting .173 (14-for-81) since hitting for the cycle on May 11 in Cincinnati, including a current 0-for-10 entering Saturday, but he’s going to continue to play as long as he is healthy.

Tyrone Taylor showed he warrants everyday at-bats during the last road trip, when he delivered three home runs and 13 RBIs, and he can play center field. And, due to the Brewers’ recent run of injuries, Andrew McCutchen has been seeing some time in the field in addition to his designated hitter duties. 

That leaves veteran Cain.

“I think when we talk about Lorenzo we have to talk about two different sides of the ball,” president of baseball operations David Stearns said. “Offensively, I don’t think he’s happy with the way he has performed. He has not performed well. He would be the first to admit that. Defensively, he has performed at a very high level. So, there are still contributions when he is going out on the field, and I think we need to recognize that. It’s just not showing up in the batter’s box right now. We know that. He knows that. I think he’s trying to get there, and we’ll see what happens.”

How long can the Brewers wait?

“Look, a lot depends on a number of different factors, including how you balance the various aspects of his contributions,” Stearns said. “That defensive production is real. That defensive production saves runs; it helps us win games. So we do value that. Clearly, at some point we’re going to need more offensive production. We understand that. Lo has been around a long time -- he certainly understands that. And so, we believe that he can get there.”

Cain, 36, said in Spring Training that he will make a decision after the season about whether to call it a career. He is a two-time All-Star and a Rawlings Gold Glove Award Winner who played in two World Series with the Royals, winning a championship ring in 2015.

Notably, he said he’s healthy at the moment after battling a bad knee earlier this year. That puts him in rare territory on a team hit by injuries lately.

“We’ve got a lot of guys beat up right now,” Cain said. “That road trip was tough for the boys. We just have to find a way to continue to battle.”