MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers don’t yet know how much time Lorenzo Cain will be down with the latest in his series of leg injuries. This time it’s a right hamstring strain that landed the veteran center fielder back on the 10-day injured list on Tuesday.
This much is clear: The 2021 season is shaping into as much of a mental test for Cain as it is a physical one.
“It’s definitely been a tough start to the season for me,” Cain said. “A lot of stop and start for me this season, starting from Spring Training on to this point. I don’t think they’re related, but at this point, who knows? I’ll get back in the training room, get this thing healthy and get back on the field as soon as possible.”
It continued a year of playing catch-up. Cain knew he had physical challenges in store after electing not to play most of the shortened 2020 season, in part because of concerns about how the coronavirus could impact one of his young sons, who has asthma. The pandemic also impacted Cain’s offseason training, since the University of Oklahoma facilities he typically uses to prepare were closed last winter.
Cain strained his right quadriceps running the bases early in Spring Training and didn’t play in the Cactus League until the third week of March. Then he strained his left quadriceps against the Cubs on April 13, his 35th birthday, and landed on the 10-day IL.
Before Monday’s setback, Cain had been back in action since May 3 and said he was feeling good in the field and better at the plate, where his .247/.356/.325 slash line qualified him as one of the Brewers’ most productive hitters.
“I would say mentally I was definitely right where I needed to be [coming into the season],” Cain said. “Physically, it was a tougher offseason for me for the simple fact of not being able to work out at the facility I normally work out at. I didn't have the equipment that I usually use during the offseason. So, in that aspect, it was definitely tougher to get my body where I normally have it going into Spring Training.
“But at the same time, we were all in a difficult spot, so you've got to find a way to go out there and get it done regardless of the situation that's around you. … I got as close as I could and did as best as I could, and unfortunately, I've been hurt. This is my third time so far? Yeah. It sucks, but things happen. You've just got to keep moving. Another bump in the road, but we'll figure it out and I'll get back out there.”
Cain is trying to keep his spirits up.
“In the past, I’ve definitely let things like this get to me a little more than I have at this point,” he said. “Injuries definitely would bother me a lot back in the day. Right now, I’m trying to just stay upbeat, positive, especially for the guys around me as well.
“I know what I need to do to get back on the field. I’ve just got to go in there and get it done, allow this thing to heal up. Hopefully it heals pretty quickly, but who knows with hamstrings? I’ve definitely had my fair share of them in the past. Just trying to get it healed as quickly as possible and I’ll be raring to go when it’s ready.”
Bradley tries to get it going
Taylor got the start Tuesday against a lefty, but in the bigger picture the Brewers will rely on another veteran Gold Glove Award winner, Jackie Bradley Jr., to pick up playing time with Cain on the IL. Bradley has already robbed some home runs for the Brewers and delivered his first career walk-off RBI last week against the Padres, but he’s struggling to produce at the plate.
Bradley was 6-for-73 with 30 strikeouts in May.
“Jackie's going to get a big opportunity here and he's going to be in there most nights, for sure, and we're going to count on him,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We're going to need Jackie to produce. It's been a struggle. ... But we’ve got to keep believing in him and supporting him and helping him and know that he's going to turn the corner. There's too much to believe that he's not going to turn a corner. So that's how we're going to proceed."
Last week, Bradley referred to his production as “abysmal” and vowed to keep working. Opposing pitchers have fed him a steady diet of breaking balls -- 37.7 percent entering Tuesday, the highest rate of Bradley’s career -- and he hasn’t been able to respond.
“Apparently it’s working so they're going to keep it going,” Bradley said. “I’ve hit some off-speed hard but it doesn’t matter if you hit it hard or not because if you keep making outs, then that’s what they’re going to keep throwing.”
Brewers to recognize ALS awareness Thursday
Major League Baseball’s inaugural Lou Gehrig Day is Wednesday, but with the Brewers off, the club is pushing its ceremonies to Thursday’s game against the D-backs, and is teaming up with ALS Wisconsin for the event.
More than 100 ALS Wisconsin volunteers will run a wide variety of concession stands throughout the ballpark during the game, and the organization will receive a portion of the profits. Other ALS Wisconsin volunteers and supporters will attend the game as guests of the Brewers. Jimmy Vandenbrook, who lost his brother to ALS, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and Tyler Stich, who has a parent battling ALS, will be the junior announcer. The national anthem will be performed by ALS Wisconsin volunteer Lucy Chamberlin.