MILWAUKEE -- Reinstated from the 10-day disabled list Thursday afternoon, it's safe to say Tyler Saladino is stoked about rejoining the Brewers.
"Stoked to be out here, stoked to get after it again with the boys," Saladino said. "Excited to get back on the field, play some baseball and all that good stuff."
Saladino, whom the Brewers acquired from the White Sox in an April trade, went down with an ankle sprain on May 29 against the Cardinals. At the time of the injury, Milwuakee had recently optioned scuffling shortstop Orlando Arcia to Triple-A Colorado Springs and awarded Saladino -- who hit .324 and belted three homers in 16 games -- the starting gig at shortstop.
"The most frustrating part was getting injured and not being able to be out there with the guys," Saladino said. "You just take it in stride and deal with it however you have to. But it stunk to know it wasn't something where I'll roll out of bed the next day and be all right."
While Saladino's bat was certainly better than Arcia's at the time, there were questions about if his glove could live up to that of Arcia, who has a Defensive Runs Saved rating of 9 in 53 games in 2018. Yet, Saladino's defense held strong in the Majors, too, sporting a DRS of 3 in just nine games at shortstop this season.
"Tyler had played so well that we had started to give him regular reps at shortstop before the injury," manager Craig Counsell said. "I think what we were all impressed by was the way he played defense. He played shortstop at a very high level, and that's the number one thing. He swung the bat really well, but it was what we got defensively that impressed us the most."
When Saladino was injured, Eric Sogard replaced him at shortstop. Saladino's Thursday activation meant Sogard was designated for assignment.
Sogard, in his second season with Milwaukee, was hitting .134 with three doubles over 55 games and 113 plate appearances.
"That role at times is a cruel role, where you're not going to get a lot of at-bats," Counsell said. "Eric got in a little slump, had some bad luck, and he could never get out of it. As we're getting healthier, we kind of ran out of space. He's made a big contribution here, and was a real pro throughout all of this in how he prepared and provided us value."
When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.
The Brewers currently carry four more middle infielders, two who weren't on the roster when Saladino hit the DL. Milwaukee acquired Brad Miller from the Rays in June and 28-year-old Nate Orf made his Major League debut Monday after being called up from Triple-A. Arcia, who was recalled May 30, was optioned to Colorado Springs again after hitting .125 over 10 games since June 16.
Arcia hit a home run in his first at-bat Wednesday in Triple-A, but Counsell plans to roll with his five middle infielders -- Jonathan Villar and Hernan Perez, Saladino, Miller and Orf -- for the meantime.
"Going forward is what matters, and we've had a lot of change in the middle infield this season, looking for the right combination," Counsell said. "Right now we're not set in stone at those positions; we're going to have different combinations out there a lot."
Cain remains out
Counsell said Lorenzo Cain is "making progress" with his groin strain. Cain is on the 10-day disabled list and has not been in the lineup since June 23.
Counsell also had compliments for Cain's home-run robbing replacement, Keon Broxton, who on Wednesday took away his third home run since his season debut June 27. Broxton spent the beginning of this season in Triple-A to work on cutting down on strikeouts, just one season removed from hitting 20 homers and stealing 21 bases.
"Blessed with athletics," Counsell said Broxton has "blossomed as a defender" by putting in the work and applying lessons from Brewers third base coach Ed Sedar.
"With Keon, it's been that he's in a stretch that is like a hot hitter at the plate, and he makes a play a day where he takes runs off the board," Counsell said. "Defensively, you've got to get opportunities. You're not guaranteed opportunities like you are when you're in the lineup. But he's gotten opportunities and he's made some plays, and they've been run-scoring plays. It's been incredible really, just to get those opportunities and make very difficult plays."