MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers activated slugger Eric Thames from the disabled list on Monday for the start of a three-game showdown with the division-rival Cubs at Miller Park.Thames wasn't in the starting lineup for the opener because Milwaukee faced Cubs left-hander Jose Quintana, but the big league bench sure beats
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers activated slugger Eric Thames from the disabled list on Monday for the start of a three-game showdown with the division-rival Cubs at Miller Park.
Thames wasn't in the starting lineup for the opener because Milwaukee faced Cubs left-hander Jose Quintana, but the big league bench sure beats the six weeks he spent rehabbing from left thumb surgery. Thames spent most of that time at the construction site that is Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix.
"It felt like an eternity," Thames said. "It's lonely. At the complex, those guys who are going through Tommy John surgery are out there 18 months grinding in the rehab stuff. For me, six weeks was an eternity.
"It's one of those things where you kind of keep it in perspective -- stay healthy, stay on the field, stay in the dugout with the guys. That's where the fun is."
Thames is a good bet to rejoin the Brewers' lineup on Tuesday against Cubs right-hander Tyler Chatwood. Thames posted a .976 OPS with seven home runs in his first 22 games before tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb while diving for a ground ball on April 24 at Kansas City, an injury that required surgery.
To clear a roster spot, the Brewers optioned Sunday's starter, Brandon Woodruff, back to Triple-A Colorado Springs. Milwaukee won't need a fifth starter again until next week in Pittsburgh.
With Thames back in action, the Brewers finally have the corner-outfield and first-base logjam that was so fretted about by outside observers in Spring Training. Counsell will juggle Thames, Jesus Aguilar and Ryan Braun at first base and some combination of Christian Yelich, Domingo Santana, Braun and Thames at the corner-outfield spots.
"It's baseball. You never really know what's going to happen," Thames said. "Trades, no trades, what's going to happen with the lineups. You just have to show up ready to play. That's all you can do."
He was just happy to be back.
"I would say it was like being in solitary," Thames said. "You'd go to the field, do your rehab, take care of your business and go back home. I saw Avengers, like, five times. "Deadpool," six times. That's all I could do. Netflix. I couldn't play video games, so that hurt me a lot. I couldn't really work out. I couldn't swing.
"For me, I was dying. To come back on that flight [from a rehab assignment with Triple-A Colorado Springs], I'm on two hours of sleep right now, but I'm feeling good. It's all the energy from seeing my friends and everything. I'm pumped."
No timetable for Miller
Brad Miller, the infielder acquired in the Sunday night trade that sent first baseman Ji-Man Choi to the Rays, is expected to join Colorado Springs on Tuesday and will spend some time reacclimating himself to second base and shortstop.
"He hasn't played there in a little while, so we'll see how it goes and we'll make an evaluation," Brewers general manager David Stearns said.
Miller hit 30 home runs for the Rays in 2016 but has slashed .219/.325/.366 in 581 Major League plate appearances over the past two seasons. He mostly manned first base in 2018 before Tampa Bay designated him for assignment last week.
The Rays are paying most of what remains on Miller's $4.5 million salary for this season, making the trade essentially a financial wash for the Brewers. Choi, whose go-ahead grand slam fueled Saturday's 12-3 win in Philadelphia, was fourth on Milwaukee's depth chart at first base with Thames' return from the DL, and the Brewers have no more Interleague road games left on the regular-season schedule.
"Look, it always feels weird trading a guy who just hit a grand slam that helped us win a game. I understand that. It's strange," said Counsell. "But if you understand the depth picture, and I think it's pretty easy to see, especially with Eric coming back here and the lack of DH games moving forward, it's a better fit, probably for Ji-Man [with the Rays], than it is here."
Miller has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining.
Brewers infielder Nick Franklin remains in extended spring training rehabbing his right quad injury, Stearns said. Franklin has been unable so far to get comfortable enough to begin a rehab assignment.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.