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Could Yelich play in a 2019 postseason game?

Brewers slugger 'would be cutting it close, but you never want to rule anything out'
@AdamMcCalvy
October 1, 2019

WASHINGTON -- Christian Yelich at the plate … in a 2019 postseason game?

WASHINGTON -- Christian Yelich at the plate … in a 2019 postseason game?

Date Result Highlights
Oct. 1 WSH 4, MIL 3 Watch

As the Brewers prepped for Tuesday’s National League Wild Card Game against the Nationals at Nationals Park, their superstar outfielder wasn’t ready to rule it out.

“It’s a thing where you just have to see how it responds and how you progress,” Yelich said of his broken right kneecap, which was thought to sideline him for the rest of the 2019 season. “It would be cutting it close, but you never want to rule anything out.”

Yelich has been out of action since he fouled a ball off his knee and fractured his kneecap on Sept. 10 in Miami. The Brewers eked out a 4-3 win that night, and then they went on to win 13 of their final 18 regular-season games without their best player. Yelich was off crutches as of last week, and he said on Tuesday that he is focusing on regaining strength in his quad muscle and the range of motion in his right leg. He described his progress as “right on track” with where it should be.

“It’s progressing great,” said Yelich. “Thankfully I haven’t any setbacks yet. We’ll see. It just takes time.”

The Brewers had lots of work to do to make it a reality, but for a player searching for something to set his sights on, a World Series return was as good as it gets for Yelich. He was born in Los Angeles three years after the Dodgers’ Kirk Gibson limped on the field in with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series on two bad legs, smashed a game-winning home run and ambled around the bases in his only plate appearance of the series.

Yeah, his family and friends have asked him the Gibson question.

“You should see my phone right now,” Yelich said.

Of that Gibson moment, Yelich said, “I’ve seen it, yeah. I wouldn’t even be capable of doing that kind of running right now. We’re a long, long, long ways away from that happening. But you never like to rule anything out. I feel like we’re in a good spot.”

Yelich is in contention for a second straight NL Most Valuable Player Award after a season that was arguably better than his 2018 campaign. The right fielder paced the Senior Circuit in average (.329), on-base percentage (.429), slugging (.671) and OPS (a Major League-best 1.100) while averaging a home run for every 11 at-bats. He finished tied with Cody Bellinger for the NL lead in FanGraphs WAR (7.8), despite finishing the season with 26 fewer games played.

Yelich was quite literally in a good spot on Tuesday, with his teammates in the dugout at Nationals Park as they prepared to take batting practice.

“I think out of everyone here, he's the one that wants to be on the field the most right now,” said Brewers rookie second baseman Keston Hiura. “He lives for these kind of moments. And everything he's done the whole year, he worked hard towards getting to this point. Even though he won't be on the field, he'll be in the dugout or the clubhouse, that's huge for us. Just knowing he's there behind us and he's been there the whole year.”

Yelich hoped to be able to stay in the dugout for the game, and he certainly had the permission of manager Craig Counsell.

“It's great to see him here,” Counsell said. “I think it's -- look, it's a challenging time for any player to have to watch this game, and especially a player like him that knows how big of an impact he can have on this game. In a game like this, you just look at how it would look [with a healthy Yelich], and Christian would be an incredibly valuable player in this game. That's probably just me lamenting the fact that he's hurt, but for him, this is why you work and this is why you push yourself to be the best, to be able to shine in a game like this.

“So, there's part of him that I'm sure is simmering underneath, but we're happy to have him here, and he's in good spirits. We’re trying to get him out of the boredom of rehab a little bit.”

Because Yelich did not require surgery, he is expected to have a normal offseason and be ready for the start of Spring Training.

Unless the unlikely happens, and the Brewers get him on the field before then.

“I’ve come to grips with [being sidelined], but it’s still hard to have to watch and not have any impact and bearing on the game,” Yelich said. “I’ll be cheering them on and pulling for these guys. It will be tough to not be out there [tonight].”

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.