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Ailing Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain confident he'll be ready for Opening Day
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Ailing Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain confident he'll be ready for Opening Day

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Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said there should be plenty of at bats for Milwaukee's outfielders, even if everyone stays healthy.

“If we look at three outfield positions, conservatively there are 2,100 plate appearances,” Stearns said Monday. “That’s a lot of playing time. That’s a lot of plate appearances. We want as good of players as possible to consume all of those. So now to hopefully be able to have four really, really good players consuming those 2,100 plate appearances, that puts us in a really good spot.”

Lorenzo Cain’s slow return to action has been slowed even more by a sore right quadriceps, but the veteran outfielder expects to be ready when the regular season begins April 1.

Cain was held out of action all of last week because of the injury, manager Craig Counsell said. He returned to the field Monday but, instead of going through the usual workout regimen with his teammates, spent the day doing light running and working with the team’s medical staff.

“We’re kind of in the process where we’re gaining information every day, and what happens today determines how much we can push it tomorrow,” Counsell said. “He’s going to be slowed by this. And we’re getting to the point where the schedule gets a little tight here. I think we still have time to get ready for the season, but when you’re missing a week on the field, for any player it starts to make the schedule and having good days important.”

Counsell planned to take a measured but steady approach with Cain this spring after he played all of four games in 2020 before deciding to opt out of the remainder of the season. The hope was the approach would allow Cain, 34, to get his legs under him and build himself into the physical shape necessary to handle center field for the bulk of a normal 162-game schedule.

With clubhouses and most workouts off-limits to media because of the coronavirus pandemic, injury information has been hard to come by this spring. The extent of Cain’s injury is minor, but the level of impact seems greater than first reported last week when Counsell said that he expected Cain to see action after the team’s second scheduled off day on March 17.

cain photo 3-8

Lorenzo Cain, 34 made his MLB debut with the Brewers on July 16, 2010. He spent 2011-2017 with the Royals.

That’s still the plan for now, and Counsell is confident that while the timeline is tight there will be enough time for Cain to get the game action needed to prepare him for the season.

“You want him to be able to play in games,” Counsell said. “I think that’s important after you missed the amount of time he has. … I’m still comfortable with him appearing after that off-day and things being fine. I think we still have plenty of time after that off-day.”

Cain said he usually likes to get between 50 and 60 at-bats in spring games. Even though he might not hit that number this season, he says it won’t be an issue.

“I plan on being on the field Opening Day,” Cain said.

News of Cain’s injury broke the same day as reports the Brewers had agreed to terms with outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr., who passed his physical and officially signed his two-year, $24 million contract Monday.

Cain doesn’t view the Brewers addition of Bradley, who like Cain is a Gold Glove-winning center fielder, as a challenge as he enters the penultimate season of a five-year, $80 million contract signed in January 2018.

Jackie Bradley Jr. speaks to the media Monday about joining the Milwaukee Brewers' talented outfield after officially signing a two-year, $24 million deal, which allows him to opt out after this season to become a free agent again. 

“I feel like I’ve shown what I can do day in and day out, year in and year out, as far as center field,” Cain said. “If what I’ve done in the past is not enough, then hey, what can I say?”

Bradley said he and Cain hadn’t spoken too much yet but was looking forward to getting to know his new teammate and letting the lineup decisions take care of themselves.

“I’m going to be focused on helping the team any way I possibly can and, wherever I’m playing, let’s go,” Bradley said.

On the field

Mario Feliciano hit a two-run triple in the sixth as the Brewers rallied for a 10-9 victory over the Los Angeles Angels at American Family Fields of Phoenix.

Staked to an early lead after the Brewers scored four runs in the first inning, Brandon Woodruff allowed back-to-back solo shots to Anthony Rendon and Justin Upton to lead off the second in his first Cactus League appearance.

“I need to clean up getting ahead and not being so predictable,” said Woodruff, who also struck out Angels slugger Mike Trout in the first inning. “That’s what I did with those back-to-back homers. That’s something going forward that’s an easy fix.”

Woodruff had been slowed by a sore back that kept him out of the Brewers’ first week of games.

“He has no issue,” Counsell said. “We’re good with him.”

Upton hit his second in the day in the fourth, a two-run blast off left-hander Brent Suter, who allowed two hits and recorded a pair of strikeouts over two innings in his second spring appearance.

The Brewers scored three times in the fourth on a solo home run by Brice Turang, RBI double by Omar Narvaez and run-scoring single by Avisail Garcia to take a 7-4 lead. The Angels pulled even in the fifth on Jordan Adams’ three-run homer.

Jose Rojas put the Angels ahead with a solo home run off Justin Topa in the fifth. Jo Adell singled and scored on Juan Graterol’s double to make it a 9-7 game.

Mark Mathias cut the deficit to a run with an RBI single in the sixth and scored along with Tyrone Taylor on Feliciano’s triple.

Garcia finished with three hits and Manny Pina had a pair for Milwaukee, which improved to 5-3 in Cactus League play.

“I thought we had really good at-bats, especially in the first inning,” Counsell said. “It wasn’t necessarily a big hit there but taking what the pitcher gives us. That’s going to be a rally some days, you score without a home run. We had one in the first inning that ended up with four runs on the board.”

On the (back) field

The Brewers and Angels also played a “B” game Monday, allowing them to get some extra work for their pitchers as game innings start to dwindle. Drew Rasmussen, Hoby Milner and Aaron Ashby were among those who saw action for Milwaukee.

From the infirmary

Luis Urias is expected to return to the lineup later this week after straining his left hamstring running into a double play during a game last week. “We’re looking at this short-term,” Counsell said. “He’ll be back on the field right away and hitting right away. Basically, he just took two days off.” ... Utilityman Tim Lopes was placed on the 60-day injured list with an oblique injury, a move that also cleared a spot on the 40-player roster for Bradley. Counsell said Lopes suffered the injury during an at-bat against the Padres on March 3.

On deck

Right-hander Adrian Houser gets the start for the second time this spring when the Brewers host the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday at American Family Fields. Houser allowed a hit and struck out one batter in a scoreless inning of work against Cleveland last week in his Cactus League debut. Left-hander Alex Wood (0-0) is scheduled to start for the Giants.


Here’s everything you need to know as Milwaukee Brewers kick off spring training in Arizona

 

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