MILWAUKEE -- After joining the Brewers following a 10-day separation, co-ace Corbin Burnes cleared a bullpen session on Monday and is scheduled to rejoin the starting rotation on Thursday in a showdown with Jack Flaherty and the Cardinals at American Family Field.
Milwaukee placed Burnes on the 10-day injured list on April 29 without specifying an injury and the club said is was following the health and safety protocols put in place by MLB in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Burnes spent the subsequent 10 days away from the team, but he was never shut down from physical activity, including throwing, manager Craig Counsell said.
That’s significant news as Burnes gets back to work, in terms of how limited he may or may not be when he faces the Cardinals. He has thrown as many as 93 pitches in a game this season.
Burnes has 49 strikeouts this season and no walks, two shy of Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen’s all-time record for strikeouts before a pitcher issues his first walk of a season.
“Ideally, you’re in a six-day routine and competing against Major League hitters. That was taken away,” Counsell said. “That’s the step back. I don’t think he necessarily had to take a big step back from the physical activity. The where and how he was able to do it changed. But he didn’t really have to shut himself down at any point.
“Of course, not pitching for two weeks is going to be different. I think we’ll acknowledge that, but I don’t think he had to stop at any point, really.”
Of Burnes’ attempt to resume pitching at an historic level, Counsell said: “Corbin got a hurdle thrown in front of him. You’ve got to climb over it. You’ve got to attack it. That’s what he’s going to do. I think rhythm is a real thing, but I don’t think -- you’ve just got to get back out there to start it going again. There’s one way for Corbin to get back in a rhythm, and that’s to get back on the mound.”
Burnes is one of a number of Brewers getting back on the mound:
• Left-hander Brett Anderson returned from the IL (right leg) over the weekend in Miami and he should be able to extend from his three-inning, 52-pitch workload in his next scheduled start against the Braves on Saturday.
• Long reliever Josh Lindblom (right knee) has joined the team after pitching twice on rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville. He will be reinstated from the 10-day IL sometime this week, Counsell said.
• Reliever Brent Suter was reinstated from the bereavement list on Tuesday after missing the minimum three days.
Yelich back to baseball activities
Christian Yelich was hitting second-deck home runs during batting practice on Tuesday afternoon in the latest sign that he and the Brewers are making progress with his balky back.
“He’s doing baseball activities, so he’s doing everything at this point,” Counsell said. “All the activities are on the board right now, so that’s a good thing. Like I said, we just try to make progress every day and then see how he feels the next day. If everything’s going good, we push him again and push him again. We’ve strung a couple of good days together and we just have to keep building on that.”
Yelich has played only one day since April 11 because of ongoing back pain. He briefly came off the 10-day IL last week in Philadelphia and collected a pair of hits in a loss to the Phillies, only to go back onto the IL the next day and renew the parties’ search for answers.
More fans in the house starting Saturday
The Brewers have been cleared by the City of Milwaukee Health Department to increase capacity at American Family Field from 25 percent to 50 percent beginning with Saturday’s game against the Braves.
“That’s great. That means we’re moving in the right direction in terms of everything that’s going on,” starter Brandon Woodruff said. “I know there’s a lot more Brewers fans that want to get in and see a ballgame, so I think that’s a very positive sign. Hopefully, that number keeps increasing.”
The club's ticket office sprung into action with Tuesday’s announcement. At the moment, only tickets through May 27 are on sale via Brewers.com and other outlets, though that will expand to June 16 by the end of this week. Fans who hold full and partial season ticket packages will receive an email this week detailing their seating options moving forward, the club said.
And later this month, the team will release information on single-game tickets as well as the entire promotional schedule for games from June 25 through the end of the season.
For fans who want to retain some space, that option will be available. The Brewers will be designating two Loge Level seating sections as social distancing locations where seating pods will remain separated by six feet.
Utility man Tim Lopes was sent to Nashvile and righty reliever Bobby Wahl was sent to Double-A Biloxi on rehab assignments. Both players sustained right oblique injuries during Spring Training.