MILWAUKEE -- Barring a setback in the wake of his final game with Triple-A Nashville on Sunday, Lorenzo Cain will come off the Brewers’ 10-day injured list on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, a big pickup ahead of Friday’s Trade Deadline.
The question is what becomes of Tyrone Taylor, the 27-year-old outfielder who has gotten significant playing time with Cain out with a right hamstring injury and Jackie Bradley Jr. still not producing at the plate. Taylor homered in consecutive games against the White Sox on Friday and Saturday, and while he could be optioned to the Minors, he has given the Brewers a jolt they want to keep when Cain rejoins the fold.
“We'll get to that day, hopefully on Tuesday, and we'll have to make a decision, but [Taylor] … he's helping us win games," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "That's what Tyrone's done all year. He's done a nice job of it. He's been in our system for a while, but he's a young player that's clearly getting better. He's gotten probably more Major League at-bats this year than maybe we anticipated, but it's because he's earned them. There's been injuries that have allowed it, but he's earned them and produced when he's gotten them.
“He's setting himself up to be a really important player here in the future.”
As usual, Counsell expressed confidence that there are enough at-bats to go around. There’s no guarantee that the injuries that opened playing time for Taylor will suddenly cease. And Counsell also noted that the Brewers have three series in August and September on the road against American League teams, where the designated hitter will be in play.
“It could be where there’s a little bit of a time where it’s difficult to find him at-bats and we get back to it when we can find him some at-bats. We do have 60-some games left,” Counsell said. “We’ll find spots for players that are producing, for sure."
Cain’s return looks like it will give the Brewers five outfielders: Christian Yelich in left, Bradley and Cain sharing duties in center, Avisaíl García getting the bulk of the at-bats in right and Taylor moving around.
Counsell on Yelich: ‘Keep going through the process’
July is shaping into the least productive month of Yelich’s high-on-base, low-slugging 2021 campaign. He entered Sunday with a 90 wRC+ and a .317 slugging percentage in July, his lowest monthly figures this season.
“You just keep working and you keep going through the process,” Counsell said. “There’s days he hasn’t felt great, for sure. There’s days the results haven’t been great. We’ve gone back and forth. There’s days the results have looked really good. A couple of days ago, he hit a couple of line drives. You keep working and you keep searching and you keep trying to find something that makes you feel a little better, lets you feel a little more consistent. That’s what you keep doing. That’s what they’re doing.”
Counsell pushed against the characterization of Yelich’s season as a “struggle.” Yelich has a .761 OPS and a 112 wRC+, which is, by definition, above average.
“He’s very much contributed to our offense,” Counsell said. “This is a struggle compared to 2019, or the second half of ‘18. If you’re going to use that word, that’s what it is.”
Here’s the most important thing Counsell said: Yelich is healthy. That’s critical considering he missed extensive time earlier this season with a lower back strain.
“Look around the league, .380 on-base percentages, they’re not all over the place,” Counsell said. “He’s still a threat in the lineup. He’s still bringing in the left-handed reliever for other teams. The threat is still changing games, in my opinion. And he’s really hit with men on base. That’s when he’s done his hitting.”
Rowdy Tellez loved his time with Toronto, but from a career perspective, last month’s trade to Milwaukee was a positive move. Tellez loves playing defense, but the Blue Jays are set at first base with AL MVP Award candidate Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
“As much as I didn’t want to leave, it was kind of my time,” Tellez said. “You saw the writing on the wall. It’s fun to come over to a first-place team.”
His chantable first name has made Tellez an instant hit in Milwaukee, where they were saying, “Rowdy! Rowdy!” even before he hit his first two Brewers home runs on Saturday night. After the second, Willy Adames helped goad Tellez into accepting his first big league curtain call.
It’s not the first time Adames has been a backer. When Tellez hit a double in his Major League debut in 2018 against Adames and the Rays, Adames wrapped him in a hug at second base.
“I’ve got a photo of that at home,” Tellez said.
Now, they’re teammates, both acquired by Milwaukee via midseason trades, and Tellez is starting to earn more at-bats.
"I think, for me, it's just confidence,” Tellez said. “I want to say yes to some playing time does [help], but when you're given opportunities, you’ve got to capitalize on them. And I wasn't doing that at the beginning of my time here. Just putting together some good at-bats and work into some of the games, so hopefully we can keep this going. The team is playing well, so that's all that matters."
Since announcing last week that they’d signed a trio of top Draft picks in Sal Frelick, Tyler Black and Alex Binelas, the Brewers have announced more signings from their class in recent days, and MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo have been reporting the bonus figures.
Here are the deals that are official so far:
First round: OF Sal Frelick, $4 million (No. 15 pick value = $3.8858 million)
Supplemental first round: 2B Tyler Black, $2.2022 million (full No. 33 pick value)
Second round: LHP Russell Smith, $1 million (No. 51 pick value = $1.4369 million)
Third round: 3B Alex Binelas, $700,000 (No. 86 pick value = $699,700)
Fourth round: RHP Logan Henderson, $497,500 (full No. 116 pick value)
Fifth round: SS Ethan Murray, $272,500 (No. 147 pick value = $367,900)
Eighth round: 2B Zack Raabe, $150,000 (No. 237 pick value = $175,000)
Ninth round: RHP Brannon Jordan, $47,500 (No. 267 pick value = $154,900)
10th round: C Wes Clarke, $75,000 (No. 297 pick value = $145,500)
16th round: SS Kay-Lan Nicasia, $125,000
18th round: RJP Ryne Moore