Yelich to rehab at Triple-A; 3 back from IL

May 13th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- Ten days after a maddening start and stop, is ready to start up again.

On a Thursday morning brimming with good news for the Brewers, manager Craig Counsell said that Yelich was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville on Friday night. That was a promising development for the superstar outfielder, who has been on the injured list for all but one day in the past month because of lingering stiffness and pain in his lower back.

“This whole week -- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and today -- he’s going at basically full strength,” Counsell said. “Everything’s been with good intent and he’s felt really good. We’re going to ease him into the game here; he’ll just play two at-bats [on Friday] and three or four innings, and then we’ll do a steppingstone on how he feels following that and try to slowly increase that. Then we’ll see where we’re at after the weekend.”

Asked whether that meant Yelich could be back in the Brewers’ lineup as soon as Tuesday at Kansas City, Counsell said, “We’re just going to treat it daily now, but he’s at the point of playing, and that’s obviously a really good sign.”

Yelich already made one attempt at returning from the 10-day IL on May 3 in Philadelphia, when he tallied a couple of hits in a Brewers loss but had to grind through the game. When he felt lousy the next day, the Brewers returned him to the IL.

In the ensuing week, the team consulted with specialists and made changes to Yelich’s treatment regimen that, according to Counsell, “clicked for him.”

“That allowed him to increase his activity, and he’s been able to increase it without being any worse following the activity, and waking up the next morning feeling good and ready to have a full day again,” Counsell said. “Good signs. Ready to take the next step.”

The same goes for infielder Daniel Robertson, who will join Yelich on rehab in Nashville after recovering from a concussion. He has not played since being struck on the helmet by a pitch on April 25 at Wrigley Field.

The Triple-A Sounds are home against Memphis through Sunday, then are off Monday like their parent club.

Burnes, Narváez, Lindblom all return from IL
As expected, Corbin Burnes returned from the injured list to start Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Cardinals, and the Brewers didn’t stop there. They also reinstated catcher Omar Narváez from a stint on the 10-day IL with a left hamstring injury, and long reliever Josh Lindblom after the veteran recovered from fluid in his right knee.

Narváez was the Brewers’ starting catcher against the Cardinals, and Lindblom returned to the bullpen.

Burnes made history on Thursday, breaking an all-time record for most strikeouts before a pitcher issues his first walk in a season and another record for most strikeouts without a walk in any stretch of any season. The number for both stands at 58 strikeouts; he finished the day with nine whiffs and one free pass over five innings. Narváez went 0-for-3 with a walk.

To clear the necessary roster spots, the Brewers optioned catcher Luke Maile and reliever Patrick Weigel to Nashville and once again designated catcher Jacob Nottingham for assignment. The club already DFA’d Nottingham once this season and lost him on waivers to the Mariners, only to swing a trade to get him back when both of the team’s primary catchers, Narváez and Manny Piña, landed on the IL.

“I just think we felt that the length of time [Narváez] was out was small enough to get him going here,” Counsell said. “We’ll take it a little slow with him this weekend, but he’s ready to play. … Look, it’s great getting Omar back. He’s been an impact on both sides of the ball. He was swinging the bat great and was in the middle of a lot of our offense.”

Full capacity beginning June 25
The good news on Thursday morning was not limited to the clubhouse. The Brewers announced they had been cleared by the City of Milwaukee Health Department to host a full house of fans at American Family Field beginning with their June 25-30 homestand against the Rockies and Cubs.

At the moment, capacity is limited to 25 percent, but that is set to increase to 50 percent on Saturday as previously announced. The Brewers are in the process of contacting season seatholders about returning to their original locations, and the club plans to announce more information about single-game sales on Friday morning. It’s a complicated process that usually spans months, but is now being condensed into a couple of weeks, and will be rolled out in tiers, Brewers president of business operations Rick Schlesinger said.

“This is a day we have long been waiting for and have certainly been advocating for publicly,” Schlesinger said. “It is great news for our fans and for all of the stadium workers, and obviously this is great for the community and other businesses that are opening up as well. It’s great for the psyche and morale of our community.”

Counsell called it “good news for anybody in baseball, and for the fans. The anticipation of summer games here in a full stadium is just exciting to think about, that’s for sure.”

Even when they return to full capacity, Schlesinger said the Brewers would continue to reserve two sections of socially-distanced seating for fans who prefer it, and they will continue many of the “touchless” policies for stadium entry and concessions, as Schlesinger said, because there have been few fan complaints. The mask policy remains in place as long as it is mandated by the City of Milwaukee Health Department.