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Back spasms end Villar's night after great play

Brewers speedster goes 2-for-5 with double and RBI before leaving game
MLB.com

PHOENIX -- Brewers second baseman Jonathan Villar was removed from Friday night's game in the eighth inning of Milwaukee's 8-6 win over the D-backs after making a lunging, diving play on Chris Herrmann's sharp ground ball that was seemingly ticketed for right field.

Villar made the throw to first, nabbing Hermann as Brandon Drury took third, but he could not get to his feet after the play. After the game, Brewers manager Craig Counsell revealed that Villar suffered from back spasms.

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PHOENIX -- Brewers second baseman Jonathan Villar was removed from Friday night's game in the eighth inning of Milwaukee's 8-6 win over the D-backs after making a lunging, diving play on Chris Herrmann's sharp ground ball that was seemingly ticketed for right field.

Villar made the throw to first, nabbing Hermann as Brandon Drury took third, but he could not get to his feet after the play. After the game, Brewers manager Craig Counsell revealed that Villar suffered from back spasms.

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"It's really locked up," Counsell said. "The back really tightened up."

Villar had X-rays before leaving the ballpark. The results had not been released, and Counsell said the club would know more before Saturday's game.

Villar crumbled to the ground after making the throw to retire Herrmann at first base and sat prone while he was attended to by the Brewers' medical staff. He was finally removed from the field on a cart. Counsell said he thought Villar had injured himself on the jarring impact made when he landed on the ground after diving for the ball.

It was a tremendous play and saved the Brewers. Drury led off the inning with a double off Carlos Torres and likely would have scored if the grounder eluded Villar's grasp. Gregor Blanco lined out to Eric Sogard, who replaced Villar at second, for the inning's second out, and Brewers closer Corey Knebel came in and struck out David Peralta to end the frame.

Knebel then retired the side in order in the ninth, whiffing two more, to record his eighth save. But it all might not have happened without the impressive play by Villar.

"It was outstanding. It was a huge play in the game, too," Counsell said. "Hopefully it's just one of those things that once his back loosens up, it feels pretty good."

That Villar was still able to make the throw might have been the most incredible part of the play.

"I don't think the pain had kicked in yet," Counsell said. "It was all adrenaline, instincts on his part."

At the plate, Villar was 2-for-5, including an RBI double in the Brewers' three-run first inning.

Video: MIL@ARI: Villar rips an RBI double to left field

Villar made the full-time move to second base this season with Orlando Arcia at shortstop and Travis Shaw at third base. Counsell said he has noticed improvement in his new second baseman's defense as the season has progressed. Friday night was Villar's 54th start at second this season.

He has struggled at the plate, hitting .213 after his two-hit effort.

"He's new to the position," Counsell said. "[Villar] struggled the first week to 10 games. Since then, there's really been significant improvement. That's part of being out there a lot and getting comfortable and playing one position. He's an improving player at second base, for sure.

"He's starting to make some plays like that more often."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.

Milwaukee Brewers, Jonathan Villar