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Rookie outfielder Garrett Mitchell making most of chance in Brewers' camp
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Rookie outfielder Garrett Mitchell making most of chance in Brewers' camp

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Garrett Mitchell sure hasn’t looked like somebody who hasn’t played organized baseball in nearly a year.

Mitchell, the Milwaukee Brewers’ first-round selection (No. 20 overall) in last year’s condensed MLB draft, is batting .600 (3-for-5) with a walk and two RBIs through six spring training games — the first games of his professional career.

Because the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the minor league season in 2020, the outfielder from UCLA remained at home in Southern California instead of reporting to the Brewers’ Rookie League affiliate or the team’s alternate training site in Appleton.

The Brewers sent Mitchell to Phoenix for the fall instructional league, but he saw minimal action because of a sore quad. Still, Milwaukee thought highly enough of Mitchell to invite him to open spring training in big league camp.

“It’s a learning experience,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Being around the older players, learning their routines, listening. Having your eyes open and your ears open and picking up what you can then just going out and enjoying it and having fun playing.”

Mitchell didn’t wait long to make an impact; he singled in his first at-bat while playing three strong innings in center field. That hit, as well as his other two this spring, have all come against left-handed pitching, an impressive feat for any left-handed hitter, let alone a 22-year-old getting his first taste of game action in almost a year.

“He’s a talented player,” Counsell said. “I think that’s pretty obvious. He’s a left-handed-hitting center fielder who runs well and he’s known for his defense. He brings a lot to the table. There’s a lot of places he can add strengths. I think that’s what’s exciting right now. There doesn’t look to be a spot in his game that he doesn’t add strength. That’s exciting. There’s a lot of good things there that he can do to help you win a game.”

With center fielder Lorenzo Cain getting closer to seeing the field and the Brewers expected to welcome free agent signing Jackie Bradley, Jr. to camp in the coming days, Mitchell’s opportunities will almost certainly dwindle.

“This is just the start for him,” Counsell said. “A lot of guys had their summers wiped out because there was no baseball so just being back in a uniform and running around on the field brings a lot of joy.”

On the field

Joc Pederson hit a two-run home run off right-hander Josh Lindblom as the Brewers fell to the Cubs 3-1 in seven innings Saturday afternoon at American Family Fields of Phoenix.

Brett Anderson struck out two in his first spring inning. He gave way to Lindblom (0-1), who retired his first two batters before Ilderamo Vargas reached on a fielding error by Keston Hiura. Vargas was thrown out trying to steal second.

In the third inning, Orlando Arcia dropped what would have been the final out when he lost Ian Happ’s pop up to shallow left in the sun. Pederson homered on the next at-bat.

Lindblom allowed two hits, struck out three and was charged with two unearned runs in two innings.

“I thought Josh pitched great,” Counsell said. “Obviously the home run is a pitch you want back, but I thought probably minus that pitch he executed a whole lot of pitches rally well. His breaking ball — slider and curveball — were excellent today. I was very happy with Josh.”

Hiura’s error was his first of the spring as he makes the adjustment to first base. Counsell didn’t agree with the ruling, but was glad Hiura got more experience as he learns a new position.

“Action is what we want over there,” Counsell said. “The first ball is probably not hit quite as hard as he thought. The second, the chopper he made a nice play on. It’s a play you get a lot of first base that he hasn’t had yet so, like we said, just, let’s keep hitting the balls there and keep putting him in tough situations.”

Arcia gave Milwaukee a 1-0 lead in the second inning, scoring Avisail Garcia with a single to left off Shelby Miller (1-0). The run was the first allowed by a member of the Cubs’ starting rotation in Cactus League play.

Chicago added an insurance run in the sixth on an RBI single by Austin Romine.

From the infirmary

Infielder Luis Urías will be sidelined for the next few days after suffering a mild strain of his left hamstring running to first base in Friday’s game against Colorado.

Counsell didn’t expect the injury to hinder Urias’ chances of making the Opening Day roster.

“He will not play Monday,” Counsell said. “We’ll have him run around the field, most likely run and then take a day of batting practice and ground balls. But I feel confident. I mean, right now, we’re just gonna make him day-to-day and not ruling him out kind of past Tuesday.”

  • Infielder-outfielder Jace Peterson has made only one appearance this spring because he’s been dealing with a “thumb issue,” according to Counsell, but is slated to return to action next week.

On deck

The Brewers get their first day off Sunday but return Monday when they host to the Los Angeles Angels. The game will mark the first Cactus League appearance for Brewers right-hander Brandon Woodruff, who was held back during the first week of play because of a sore back. Left-hander Andrew Haney gets the start for the Angels. Fox Sports Wisconsin and the Brewers Radio Network will broadcast the game, which gets underway at 2:10 p.m.


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

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