Urías healthy, resumes workouts for Crew

July 25th, 2020

After months of waiting, Brewers infielder is finally back on the baseball field.

Urías, who didn’t get to play games in Spring Training because he was healing from left hand surgery, then missed all of Summer Camp due to an asymptomatic case of COVID-19, shared via his Instagram story on Friday that he’d reported for duty to the Brewers’ alternate training site in Appleton, Wis.

“Happy Opening Day,” said his post. “Stay safe ... I’ll be back soon.”

A Gannett photographer later captured images of Urías taking ground balls at Fox Cities Stadium, a simple act that represented a significant step forward for Urías, who was one of two players (with pitcher Angel Perdomo) who tested positive for COVID-19 prior to intake for Summer Camp and authorized the Brewers to release the results.

By rule, Urías and Perdomo required consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart to gain clearance to return to action. And despite being asymptomatic throughout, both players continued to come back positive and were quarantined until that changed.

Finally, that has changed for Urías, who hopes to eventually push Orlando Arcia for the Brewers’ shortstop job.

“He’s full go now,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “It’s just a matter of really just getting into baseball shape, getting live at-bats and going at a good pace. The other guys all got three weeks [of Summer Camp]. I think he can be at a place where he’s maybe a little bit quicker, but it’s going to take some time. He was able to be somewhat active, but obviously not what these guys have been doing on a regular basis. He’s just got to get back in the swing of things.

“He’s fully healthy. He’s been healthy. So he’s ready to go.”

The cases of Urías and Perdomo reflect the uncertain nature of COVID-19. According to reports from Counsell and Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns along the way, neither player ever exhibited symptoms during their long layoffs.

“What we’ve learned not only with our organization but just hearing about some other cases, not necessarily knowing all the facts of the other cases, it’s different for every person who has the virus,” Counsell said. “It affects you differently, the length of time it’s in your system is different. You don’t know. We don’t know when somebody tests positive, how long it’s going to be. There’s no way to know, and we have to just be OK with that. Thankfully [Urías] did not experience symptoms, and probably in a way it’s the silver lining, but it’s also the frustrating part of it, that it took so long and he never had any symptoms.”

Bullpen taking shape
Here’s an excerpt of reporters’ chat with Counsell on Saturday morning -- ahead of the Brewers' 8-3 win over the Cubs -- for fans who like to follow along with bullpen decisions, especially with 11 relievers at the manager’s disposal for the first two weeks of the season. Counsell was asked about using Wisconsin native Jonathon Feyereisen for his Major League debut in the eighth inning of an Opening Day game that the Brewers trailed by two runs. A big spot, but not the biggest bullpen spot of the day.

“For me, to be honest with you, earlier in the game is the biggest spot, right?” Counsell said. “When we’re down two with six outs to go, that’s a bigger spot. When we're down two with nine outs to go, that’s even a bigger spot. That’s how I look at games. But [Feyereisen] handled it well, and I had confidence he was going to handle it well. He was the right guy for those hitters, and we’ll continue to put him in those spots.”

The other role always worth following belongs to Josh Hader, the two-time National League Reliever of the Year. In 2018, Counsell used Hader all over games in which the Brewers had a lead and the right spot of an opponents’ order was coming up. In '19, after Corey Knebel went down with a season-ending right elbow injury, Hader was typically reserved for the end of games to pitch as what amounted to a multi-inning closer.

Now, with Knebel back in action, promising signs from free-agent acquisition David Phelps and every chance for victory magnified by a shortened schedule, might Hader see action earlier in games?

“I think it always evolves,” Counsell said. “It’s hard to say. You know, we want Josh to pitch in the big spots. We want to be cautious about how we use him, but he’s going to get the big spots, and it’s always challenging to find that because he’s still our best reliever, he’s our best guy down there.

“They’ll tend to be towards the end of the game. I think that’s fair to say, especially at the start here. Then as we go, if something changes and if we find out we have multiple guys who can handle these big, big spots, which is ideal, then I think it could change a little bit.”

He said it
“Look, it’s fun. … We have to enjoy ourselves a little bit here. I thought it was good. It was fun.” -- Counsell, on a light moment in Friday’s Opening Day game when Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo offered Arcia hand sanitizer at first base after Arcia reached on a single