Cain sits following wall-crashing catch

September 19th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- leaped, extended his left arm and made one of the Brewers’ best catches of the year in the second inning of Saturday’s 6-4 win over the Cubs at American Family Field.

But at what cost?

With right fielder Avisaíl García already in the day-to-day category with a stiff lower back, Cain played three more innings after his sensational catch before leaving the game in the fifth in favor of slumping veteran Jackie Bradley Jr. The Brewers initially announced that Cain was removed from the game with right hip discomfort, though manager Craig Counsell said after the game that it was actually Cain’s right groin that was bothering him.

Cain’s grab was a four-star catch, as rated by Statcast, after he covered 89 feet to rob Cubs catcher Willson Contreras of a hit leading off the second inning, but the spectacular play ultimately cost Cain the last five innings of the game.

“[The injury] was from the incredible play he made on Contreras' ball,” Counsell said. “As the game went on, his right groin just got sore. We're not really sure how he did it. He didn't feel it initially when he made the catch or when we were out there talking to him -- he just kind of had the wind knocked out of him -- but as a couple innings progressed his groin became sore, so we got him out of there.”

Cain was out of the lineup for Sunday afternoon’s series finale. Counsell didn’t indicate that a stint on the injured list was necessary -- he noted that Cain is feeling “just general kind of body soreness” -- but he also wasn’t sure what Cain’s availability looked like for the coming days.

“I don’t have a good idea right now of how many days now or if he’s available today,” Counsell said. “He just hit the wall hard, fell down hard and somewhere in there the groin was affected. We’ll see how it goes here.”

"I'm fine. I'll be ready soon," Cain said through a team spokesman.

The Brewers' win on Saturday secured a playoff spot and cut their magic number to clinch the National League Central to three games. They can potentially clinch the division when St. Louis comes to town on Monday.

However, clinching the NL Central may have to come without Cain in the lineup, which would be a blow to the Brewers as they begin the four-game set with a Cardinals team hoping to lock down a Wild Card spot.

Cain’s ability to make what is now his second four-star catch of the year comes as no surprise considering he won an NL Gold Glove Award in 2019. And the determination to make the grab without the ability to brace himself for the impact with the wall isn’t something seen very often.

“It was a great play,” Counsell said. “Sometimes you see those plays where the outfielder has a little bit of a chance to time his leap, and that was not the case last night. It was just, ‘Go and get it,’ and that’s what made it a little awkward, I think.”

If Cain misses significant time, it could mean more chances for Bradley, who entered the night with one hit in his last 31 at-bats and went 0-for-2 after replacing Cain as he struggles through a difficult debut season in Milwaukee. Bradley does bring sensational defense, however.

“Well, he's in a tough stretch right now, for sure,” Counsell said before Saturday’s game. “His at-bats have decreased over the last month. He's struggling right now, but I still think he's a player that's going to impact us at some point and impact us in a big game. And we're gonna keep counting on him.”

Counsell added, “I think what makes it more puzzling is he’s had so much more success [in his career]. When players are in slumps, we’re always looking for answers and it always feels like we can’t find the answers. We haven’t been able to solve it yet.”