Tellez injures finger in 'freak accident' shagging BP balls

July 16th, 2023

CINCINNATI -- After an unfortunate interaction with the outfield wall at Great American Ball Park during batting practice on Saturday, you can add to the list of freak injuries in Brewers history.

There was Robin Yount going down during 1978 Spring Training because he’d shredded his ankle in a dirt bike crash, Steve Sparks separating his shoulder trying to tear a phonebook in half in 1994 and Matt Wise slicing open his finger with tongs while building a salad in 2006. In 2011, Zack Greinke cracked a rib playing basketball and Chris Narveson cut his finger while fixing his glove. There was Francisco Rodríguez stepping barefoot on a cactus in 2014, Jonathan Lucroy’s broken hand from a falling suitcase in 2012, Scooter Gennett cutting his hand on a shower caddy in 2015 and Will Smith twisting his knee in 2016 while tying his shoe.

Now there’s Tellez -- a first baseman already on the injured list who was hurt trying to make a catch at the outfield wall during batting practice.

“I actually saw it,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “It looked like an innocent thing. He somehow got his finger stuck in the wall.”

Tellez’s finger lodged between padded sections of the outfield wall right at the 404-foot marking in center field, Counsell said. He tore off the nail bed on the ring finger of his left hand and suffered what Counsell called “a small fracture” at the end of that finger. Tellez required 17 stitches and will be sidelined from baseball activity for two to three weeks.

“That probably means we won’t see him back on the field with us for three to four weeks,” Counsell said.

How does a first baseman on the IL find himself in the outfield shagging fly balls? Counsell said there was a legitimate reason for that: Tellez was doing it for conditioning in the Cincinnati heat in advance of a planned return from the IL on Tuesday in Philadelphia. His outfield incident occurred on the same day he was eligible to return from his right forearm injury.

It’s been a tough run for Tellez. Milwaukee’s home run leader last season, he was one of the club's most potent hitters this year until deep into May, but he hasn't homered since May 22 and has a .410 OPS since then. Just before the All-Star break, with the forearm becoming more and more bothersome, the team placed him on the IL.

The Brewers have been playing utility man Owen Miller at first base in Tellez’s absence and will continue to do so, Counsell said. A move to add depth is possible, though one prominent option for a call-up from Triple-A Nashville, Keston Hiura, has already had multiple looks in the Majors. Hiura has a .972 OPS in the Minors this season.

Great American Ball Park has been tough on the Brewers this year. First baseman Darin Ruf fractured his right knee and suffered a laceration so deep that it exposed tendons and ligaments when he crashed into the tarp on June 2. He’s been on the IL ever since.

Now the ballpark has claimed Tellez, too.

“It’s a freak accident,” Counsell said.