JBJ picks up hit in Brewers debut

March 13th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- dug into the batter’s box for the first time in a Brewers uniform on Friday as the leadoff hitter in a four-inning intrasquad game. There was no chance to settle in. The first pitch was a 98 mph fastball from Corbin Burnes, and the second pitch was at 97 mph. Bradley hit it hard to left field for a lineout.

The newest Brewers outfielder was off and running.

“I’ll tell you what,” Bradley said, “that’ll get you ready real fast. Ready or not, here he comes.”

Said Burnes: “He came out swinging. We were talking beforehand, and he said, ‘I don't even know if I am going to swing today. They told me I was in the game but didn't have to swing.' He was joking around. But it was good to see him in there hacking."

Bradley, who finalized a two-year deal with the Brewers on Monday, had been given a few days to get his feet under him before seeing live pitching on Friday. He then made his Cactus League debut on Saturday, going 1-for-3 with a run scored in Milwaukee's 4-4 tie with Texas.

"There's times to track and there's times that you need to swing to see actually where you are,” Bradley said. “With me coming a little bit later than most, I need to see where I'm at. I need to start getting this thing going."

In Friday’s tune-up he tallied four at-bats without a hit, and with one scare. In his third at-bat against Burnes, Bradley hit a bouncer to first base. Burnes hustled over and accepted an underhand toss, then stepped very awkwardly on the bag for the out and took a tumble. The dugout got quiet.

"All good. Just testing out the durability of the knee over there,” Burnes said. “But yeah, I'm good. They said maybe you can take it a little bit easier. I was just looking at Jackie running down the line, so I just wanted to beat Jackie to first."

It was one of two pitching scares during an eventful four innings. Brewers left-hander Brent Suter had to leave the game in the third with an athletic trainer after being hit on the left hand by a Garrett Mitchell comebacker. After a conversation on the mound, Suter departed. The Brewers will re-evaluate him on Saturday but it appears Suter avoided serious injury, manager Craig Counsell said.

Prospects sent out; Ashby remains
Top Brewers prospects Mitchell, Brice Turang, Ethan Small and Mario Feliciano were all among the club’s first cuts to Major League camp on Friday as playing time becomes scarcer in the Cactus League with the approach of Opening Day.

Optioned to the Triple-A roster were Feliciano, a catcher, pitchers Alec Bettinger and Dylan File and outfielder Corey Ray.

Reassigned to Minor League camp were non-roster outfielders Mitchell and Tristen Lutz, shortstop Turang, and pitchers Small, Clayton Andrews, Jake Cousins, Thomas Jankins, Miguel Sánchez and Quintin Torres-Costa.

Players who are reassigned -- including optioned players this year -- can continue to appear late in Cactus League games, but will move over to the Minor League locker room at American Family Fields of Phoenix and join players already on hand for a mini-camp. For now, teams remain limited to 75 total players in their complexes.

Notably missing from that group of reassigned prospects was left-hander Aaron Ashby, who is ranked the Brewers' No. 6 overall prospect and remains active in big league camp.

“You can write what you'd like about that,” Counsell said with a smile.

Counsell noted that Ashby was scheduled to pitch an inning on Saturday against the Rangers. He declined to elaborate on the club’s plan beyond that for Ashby, 22, who was Milwaukee’s fourth-round MLB Draft pick in '18 and topped out at the advanced Class A level in '19 before spending part of '20 at the Brewers’ alternate training site.

Ashby is unlikely to make Milwaukee’s Opening Day roster, but he has opened eyes by recording all six of his Cactus League outs so far via strikeout.

Of keeping him in camp, Counsell said, “I think it's a testament to the progress he's made. I think it's a testament to his instructional league last year, where he was really kind of the star of the instructional league from our guys' perspective. He's made a pretty big move forward. He's had a couple of great innings here. He's going to pitch in [Saturday’s] game, I can tell you that. So, he's doing good things.”

Last call
• An MRI scan confirmed what Counsell described as a “serious” right shoulder injury for utility candidate Mark Mathias, who was hurt making a diving play earlier this week. The Brewers declined to elaborate on the nature of Mathias’ injury beyond that, while he weighs various treatment options.

• Minor League right-hander Thomas Jankins exited during the final inning of Friday’s win over the Cubs because of forearm tightness, Counsell said.

• MLB Network is adding the March 14 Brewers-Mariners game to its schedule in the Milwaukee television market. The contest will air live at 3 p.m. CT.

• Brandon Woodruff exited his start against the Cubs during a long second inning, then re-entered to start the third and got his work in without allowing a run Friday. Woodruff is on a tighter schedule than other pitchers after overcoming a minor bout of back stiffness early in camp and said he expects to keep pitching every five days, which happens to take him right to Opening Day against the Twins on April 1.

“I feel good about it,” Woodruff said. “I don’t feel like I’ve lost any time.”