MILWAUKEE -- Brewers shortstop Willy Adames hit in the cage Wednesday for the first time since going on the 10-day injured list with a strained left quadriceps. He’s already eyeing October.
“Right now, I’m feeling way better from the work that we’re putting in. I think it’s working,” Adames said before the Brewers played the finale of their penultimate regular-season homestand. “Hopefully, by the time I have to come back, I’m at least 95 percent and I’ll be good for the playoffs. Hopefully, I’m really healthy.”
The Brewers have not mathematically clinched a postseason spot, but their current position -- 11 games up on the second-place Reds with 22 games to play entering Wednesday -- provides breathing room for Adames to get as close as possible to full health.
He estimates he was running at about 50 percent of full speed before landing on the IL Sept. 5. The quad issue goes back much further than that to the middle of August, when Adames began to feel discomfort. He played through it for a time, then took a break for about a week before easing back to action as the Brewers’ designated hitter in Minnesota on Aug. 28, and then as the shortstop on Aug. 31 in San Francisco. But the good feeling didn’t last; in his fourth start since the pause, he appeared so compromised running the bases that the Brewers got him out of the game and placed him on the IL the next day.
“It’s really hard,” Adames said. “Like, I love to be on the field. This has been a tough moment, but the guys have been putting on a show and I’ve been enjoying it. I wish I could be on the field helping them, but the time will come and I’ll be back healthy.”
Asked what the final step will be, Adames said, “Run, obviously. I couldn’t really run with the strain. That’s why we’re trying to get it stronger, so when I run it doesn’t bother me. Just try to be comfortable and at the point I don’t think about it.”
At some point when he begins running, the Brewers will face a balance between giving Adames enough time as possible to get as healthy as possible, while getting him enough at-bats in the waning days of the regular season to feel comfortable when the games matter most in the postseason.
Adames was asked whether there is a soft deadline to get back to action.
“I don’t know. I have been feeling good at the plate, so I think a couple of games and I would be alright,” he said. “I already played a whole year. I want to be ready, 100 percent. Right now, we are in a really good spot and I don’t want to rush it so I get [hurt again] and I’m not going to be ready for the playoffs. I want to be ready for the playoffs. That’s my goal.”
Adames just turned 26 on Sept. 2, but he’s heading toward his third postseason appearance. He played 26 playoff games with the Rays in 2019-20, making it to the World Series last year.
But that experience was muted by the coronavirus pandemic, with the Rays and Dodgers under strict protocols at a hotel in Arlington, Texas. Adames has been thinking about what it might be like to play a Fall Classic in front of a packed crowd.
“It would be better because we’re going to get 100 percent fans and a regular World Series,” he said. “Last year there were some fans but not everybody. It was amazing, but it could have been better. We were on the road. I couldn’t see my family. It was tough, but it was a great experience. If you get to a World Series, it’s an amazing experience and you enjoy it anyways.”
Do the Brewers have the team to make it?
“One hundred percent, with the guys we have here,” Adames said. “Obviously, we have a tremendously talented group of pitchers and a great lineup. I think we have a pretty good chance to get to the World Series if everybody stays healthy.”