Urías praises Adames, embraces new role

Crew taking it slow with Yelich, Wong; McKinney DFA'd

May 23rd, 2021

On another difficult day in a two-year Brewers tenure that has had a number of difficult days, Luis Urías said that he would welcome his replacement at shortstop with open arms.

“They talked to me about Willy coming to the team,” Urías said Friday night, speaking in Spanish to ensure that he got his message across clearly after the Brewers traded for Rays shortstop Willy Adames. “I took it as something that’s going to be very good for the team because I know Willy, he’s a tremendous person -- tremendous person -- and I feel that he brings a lot of energy to the team and I think it’s going to go better for us with him on the team.”

The Brewers sent relievers J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen to Tampa Bay in exchange for Adames and reliever Trevor Richards on Friday before Urías went 1-for-3 with a double, a run scored and a run-scoring walk while playing a clean shortstop in a 9-4 loss to the Reds.

With Adames’ arrival Saturday, Urías shifted into a super-utility role and showed that he could still make an impact, making a spot start for banged-up second baseman Kolten Wong and smacking his fifth home run of the season in Milwaukee’s 4-3 win.

Still, it isn't what the Brewers envisioned when they sent emerging outfielder Trent Grisham and established starter Zach Davies to San Diego just before Thanksgiving in 2019 for Urías and left-hander Eric Lauer. So far, Grisham has won a Gold Glove Award and cemented himself as a regular with an exciting Padres team, Davies was flipped in a trade that landed the Padres Yu Darvish, and neither Urías nor Lauer have been able to gain a foothold in Milwaukee.

Lauer has a 7.00 ERA in 27 innings for the Brewers over the past two seasons and is currently starting at Triple-A Nashville. Urías entered Saturday with a .647 OPS in 264 plate appearances with the Brewers and was unable to seize everyday shortstop duties, even after Milwaukee traded away his competition, Orlando Arcia, to Atlanta in early April.

Through Friday, Urías had nine errors in 318 innings at shortstop in 2021. Eight of the errors were of the throwing variety. Seven of the errors were concentrated in three games -- a three-error night against the Pirates on April 17 and two apiece in consecutive games on Sunday against the Braves and Tuesday at Kansas City.

Asked if he felt that he’d been given enough time to show he can handle the position, Urías said, according to Brewers translator Carlos Brizuela, “It’s all about your perspective on it. I’m very grateful for the opportunity this team has given me, for bringing me here and giving me a lot of chances, but you’ve got to understand where you are. I’ll be ready to play whenever they need me. I just want to be ready to try to find a way to help the team win whenever they want to use me.”

He acknowledged his defensive lapses.

“Yes, obviously, in the mental aspect of the game, I’d say I had a little struggle with that,” Urías said. “I know I’m not going to be perfect, but I want to help my pitchers to win in the work they’ve been doing. … Obviously, I made some mistakes in the last few games and it certainly is something that I have to work on to do better. Like I said, I like to help my pitchers and it’s a responsibility that I have to take, to be better.”

The plan for Yelich; Wong out

Christian Yelich was out of Saturday’s starting lineup, but not because of any trouble with his back. Yelich came off the injured list earlier in the week after missing most of the previous month with a lower back injury, and the club has his first week-plus of starts tentatively mapped out.

“He'll play [Sunday],” Counsell said. “We're going to keep him on a schedule here through the four games [against] San Diego and then kind of go from there. But he's doing really good today, actually. He was really happy with how he felt coming in this morning. I think more than anything, we have to get his legs going underneath him to handle the everyday part. But from a back perspective, he's doing really good.”

Also absent from Saturday’s starting lineup was Wong, who was experiencing soreness and trouble gripping the baseball after being hit by a pitch on the right elbow Friday night. X-rays after the game were negative for broken bones and Counsell said that he was “fairly optimistic” that Wong would be back on the field for Sunday’s series finale.

Roster moves

Billy McKinney’s production while Yelich and Lorenzo Cain were on the injured list helped the Brewers surge to a 17-10 record by May 1, but McKinney couldn’t keep it up. After posting a .154/.237/.212 in his last 59 plate appearances, and with Cain and Yelich back on the active roster, McKinney was designated for assignment as part of a series of roster moves Saturday.

“Billy did a nice job for us and he's probably going to be tough to keep moving forward here,” Counsell said. “He's got a good chance to get claimed [off waivers] probably.”

The Brewers also optioned infielder Pablo Reyes back to Triple-A Nashville to clear the roster spots that they needed for the newly acquired Adames and Richards, who walked into the Brewers' clubhouse about 2 1/2 hours prior to Saturday’s first pitch following Friday’s trade with the Rays.

The Brewers also promoted Alec Bettinger back to the Majors to restock the bullpen from Friday’s departures of Feyereisen and Rasmussen. 

In a related Minor League move, the Brewers released veteran infielder Dee Strange-Gordon from Triple-A Nashville. Gordon signed with the Brewers' organization last month and played some shortstop for the Sounds, but his path to Milwaukee became much more difficult with the trade for Adames.