Rattler or Brewer? For 1 rehab start, Woodruff a little bit of both

June 27th, 2022
Photo by Jared Klein

This story was excerpted from Adam McCalvy's Brewers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Brandon Woodruff’s final rehab start with High-A Wisconsin went perfectly -- except for a minor wardrobe malfunction.

Woodruff threw 74 pitches in his final tune-up before returning from the injured list while wearing a white Wisconsin Timber Rattlers jersey and mismatched, cream-colored Milwaukee Brewers pants. Why the mismatch? Woodruff said the uniform that had been prepared for his arrival was way too big on top and every pair of pants he tried was either too baggy or Robbie Ray-level tight.

So, some improvisation was required.

Woodruff asked Timber Rattlers manager Joe Ayrault -- Woodruff’s skipper in his first full season of pro ball -- if he could simply wear his Brewers pants. Of course, Ayrault said. At the same time, a member of the clubhouse staff found Woodruff a jersey that worked, the No. 11 previously owned by top Brewers prospect Sal Frelick. Once the name was pulled off, it was ready to wear.

“I go out to the bullpen and someone is like, ‘Let’s go, Rowdy!’” Woodruff said with a laugh, referring, of course, to the Brewers’ No. 11, Rowdy Tellez. “So, I was no-name out there, trying to do my best and get back [to the Majors].”

Photo by Jared Klein

Woodruff was still beaming about the experience when he chatted with me and Tim Dillard for this week’s Brewers Unfiltered podcast. Look for that full conversation to drop Tuesday, the same day Woodruff is scheduled to come off the injured list to start for the Brewers at the Rays.

Here’s a taste:

“These kids were out there chanting my name when I was warming up, and I’m like, ‘Man, this is cool,’” Woodruff said. “I’ve never given kids high-fives before the game. When I’m going out there to pitch, my job is to get people out and I’m trying to be focused. It was a little bit out of my comfort zone to go over and give these kids high-fives on the other side of the fence but I look back on it like, ‘You know what? That was a cool experience. I probably made some kids’ day.’

“The other thing that threw me off a little bit was that they do the anthem, like, three minutes before the game. You run out to your position to do the anthem -- I haven’t done that since high school. I’m running out there in a pair of cream pants and a white jersey. Two kids ran out there with me during the anthem and I said, ‘How are y’all?’ I asked them their names and I said, ‘I’m Brandon.’ The kids were like, ‘Yeah, we know.’ They had a Minor League ball out there on the mound and one kid had a ball and the other one didn’t, so I was like, ‘Hey, take this ball with you.’ His face just lit up. I saw a picture where I was looking down and smiling at the kid during that and his eyes were so big.

Photo credit: The Post-Crescent/Wm. Glasheen

“I say all that just to say that these kids look up to us more than we realize. I don’t think we realize enough around the community how influential we can be, and I think that was a cool thing to go back and do.”