Hiura out at least 2 weeks as injuries hit Crew

August 31st, 2019

CHICAGO -- The Brewers placed second baseman on the injured list Saturday with a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring and expect the rookie to miss at least two weeks. And that was just the start of Milwaukee’s injury woes.

Hiura will play again this season, Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, but that didn’t help on Saturday. Also absent from the starting lineup for the 2-0 win against the Cubs were:

• Left fielder , whose back has flared up again. When Braun has been sidelined with a bad back in recent years, it typically requires a few days off, however he was able to enter the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning. He hit a groundout to third to end the inning.

• Center fielder , who has significant pain in his left kneecap. It’s an issue that has been lingering for some time, and manager Craig Counsell noticed Cain was slow out of the batter’s box in Friday’s loss. Cain entered the game in the bottom of the eighth inning as a defensive replacement, and struck out in his only at-bat in the ninth.

• Third baseman , who has been out since taking a 107 mph grounder off the exposed part of his glove hand on Monday against the Cardinals. Moustakas tried to hit on Friday morning, but had trouble gripping the bat.

“We’re going to have to have multiple guys pick up the slack,” Counsell said. “We’re bitten by the injury bug right now, there’s no question.”

The Brewers recalled outfielder from Triple-A San Antonio to take Hiura’s spot, and also recalled infielder from San Antonio a day early. Shaw was to be among the Brewers’ first wave of September callups on Sunday.

To make room on the active roster for Shaw, the Brewers optioned reliever Devin Williams to Double-A Biloxi. That affiliate made the playoffs, so Williams can continue to pitch while spending the required 10 days in the Minors before he’s eligible to rejoin the big league club.

Hiura was hurt running down the baseline on a fifth-inning groundout in Friday’s loss at Wrigley Field. He returned to Milwaukee after the game to be examined.

“We’re probably at two weeks minimum here, and then we’ll see how he’s doing,” said Counsell, who spoke of Hiura’s importance to the Brewers’ offense. “Keston is having a wonderful season. He’s hitting in the middle of the lineup. He’s taking the responsibility of often hitting right around Christian [Yelich]; in front of or behind him. And he’s produced a lot offensively. Yeah, you’re going to miss a bat like that.”

Among Brewers players with more than a handful of at-bats, Hiura’s 138 weighted runs created plus, .389 weighted on-base average and .571 slugging percentage trailed only Yelich. Among National League rookies with at least 200 plate appearances, Hiura is third in slugging, tied for third in wOBA and fourth in wRC+.

Shaw gets another chance

Some of Hiura’s at-bats will go to Shaw, who gets an opportunity to tack a positive finish onto what has been a tough season for a player who went into the year central to the organization’s long-term plans.

Shaw entered Saturday with a .162/.276/.279 slash line and the Brewers face some decisions about where he fits. Moustakas will be a free agent again. First baseman Eric Thames has a $7.5 million club option. Shaw is arbitration-eligible for the second time after making $4.675 million this year.

“It’s been tough,” Counsell said. “Certainly not the way any of us expected his season to go. All you can do now is control what’s forward, and that’s the month of September.”

Shaw posted a .952 OPS in August at San Antonio and said he felt good about his swing as he returned. But after all his struggles, and being sent back and forth between the Majors and Minors, he admitted to feeling a little mentally fried. In Saturday's win, Shaw went 1-for-3 with a strikeout.

“You could say that. That’s a good term,” Shaw said. “But this is an opportunity to take something positive into the offseason. It’s been mentally draining.”

Last call

• As first reported Saturday by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak, the Brewers are pulling No. 2 prospect Tristen Lutz, No. 16 prospect Payton Henry and Nathan Kirby from the Arizona Fall League because of injury. Lutz has a right triceps strain, Henry has a sprained MCL in his left knee and Kirby has a stress fracture in his second rib. Kirby underwent thoracic outlet surgery in the spring and was thought to be healthy and ready to pitch in the AFL before this was discovered. None of the injuries will require surgery.

• Right-hander Jimmy Nelson and left-hander Brent Suter joined the Brewers on Saturday and will be among the players activated Sunday when rosters expand. Both are eager to finish the season on active duty, Suter coming off Tommy John surgery and Nelson still getting used to pitching with a surgically repaired right shoulder.

“My mindset is this is where I belong,” Nelson said. “That’s where I’ve been mentally for two years now. It’s hard not to think about it when you’re down there [in the Minors]. There are a lot of mental challenges in Triple-A, but you just have to focus on taking care of your business. We have a really good group of guys down there.”

• Triple-A San Antonio was eliminated from postseason contention with a loss on Friday night but Double-A Biloxi is moving on after clinching a fourth straight Southern League South Division Championship.