Christian Yelich strikes out in the third inning Monday night. Yelich returned to the lineup after missing three weeks. (Photo: Rich Schultz, Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA – Christian Yelich’s return lasted only one day.
Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell announced Tuesday that Yelich was going back on the injured list after being activated Monday. Yelich played in a 4-3 loss to Philadelphia that night and collected two singles, but Counsell said his back did not respond to game action as hoped.
“I think it goes to finding more answers and trying to get a better hold on what we’ve got going on, stop it from happening and get back out there healthy,” a solemn Yelich said before the Brewers took on the Phillies in the second game of the series at Citizens Bank Park.
“I’m not where I need to be to go out there on an every-day basis. I wasn’t where I needed to be yesterday. It just wasn’t good. I was able to make it through the game but being able to stack them on top of each other, just health-wise and be able to play at a certain level, just wasn’t there. That’s pretty much back to where we are.”
Before being activated, the 29-year-old outfielder had been sidelined for three weeks with the lower back issue, which at one time was described as having “plateaued.” It was decided Yelich needed to try to play to gauge if his back could handle it, and the result was not as hoped.
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“What happened is we’re kind of at a point where we need to get more answers,” Counsell said. “That is why he played last night. He obviously got through the game and performed but it’s at the point where he’s not going to be able to go out there on a regular basis.
“We need to get more answers; we need to get better answers. And we need to get him healthier. He’s just at this point not healthy enough to be a regular contributor.”
The problem with getting more answers is the Brewers don’t know exactly what they are looking for. MRIs performed on Yelich’s back have revealed no structural damage.
“That’s where the tough part of this lies; we’re not getting answers from that,” Counsell said. “But he doesn’t feel good. The MRI isn’t showing any change from past MRIs, but he’s not feeling good enough to recover from playing for a day.
“Which means there’s something else we haven’t yet diagnosed. We’ve got to get the answer to that before we start playing again. We’ll come up with a plan over the next 24 hours as to what’s next for him.”
Counsell said nothing happened specifically to Yelich in the game Monday night to aggravate the back situation. It was more a case of not being able to tolerate continuing to play.
“He kind of gutted out yesterday’s game, is probably the best way to say it,” Counsell said. “That’s not a realistic way to go through the day. He feels OK today but unable to play. Nothing happened that necessarily made it worse.
“Last night told us he’s not going to be able to do this on a daily basis. So, we need to stop and completely resolve this before we start again. We’ve got to find a course that’s going to make him feel better.
“We all felt it was time to try to see what would happen if he played, because we were plateaued and we weren’t making improvement. He tried and it didn’t work. Christian would like to know what’s going on, and that’s the frustrating part for everyone involved.
“At this point, we don’t have an answer. So, that’s what the next couple of days are going to be about, to try to uncover any answers or avenues to get answers.”
Asked about testing his back in game action, Yelich said, “We had to try it and see where we were at. I felt good enough to try it. You never really know until you’re in a game. You can’t simulate a major-league baseball game. My body wasn’t where it needs to be. It isn’t cooperating enough to let me do that every night.”
As for what medical tests can be conducted at this point, Yelich said, “That’s something we need to explore further and go down that hole, see if we can get a hold on this. I don’t want to go too far into the specifics of what’s really going on. I definitely think it’s something where we need to see what we can do going forward to have some understanding of how to keep it at bay.
“It’s tightness, pain, restriction, just really not being able to have the same mobility. Back stuff kind of controls your entire body. Anybody that’s ever dealt with anything back-wise, not only baseball but day-to-day life, it makes things difficult, let alone playing a baseball game.
“It’s frustrating; it’s tough to deal with.”
Yelich signed a nine-year, $215 million extension in March 2020, so the obvious concern for all involved is whether this could become a long-term problem. Yelich said he, too, needs an answer to that.
“We need to get a better understanding of it,” he said. “I think we’ve done a good job (treating it); it’s just that I’m not responding. We need it to, so we’ve got to figure out how to make that happen. I think there’s an understanding of what it is and what’s going on. But we just need to dive in a little deeper.”
Lorenzo Cain, who also returned to action Monday night after being sidelined for nearly three weeks with a quadriceps strain, was out of the lineup for the second game against the Phillies but Counsell said that was by design.
“He came through good, healthy,” Counsell said. “The plan was to give him today off.”
To replace Yelich on the roster, outfielder Tyrone Taylor was recalled and started Tuesday night against the Phillies. He had been optioned to the alternate training site Monday but never left the club here.
Three sent on minor-league rehab
Three players on the Brewers’ injured list were sent to Class AAA Nashville on minor-league rehab assignments: outfielder Derek Fisher, infielder/outfielder Jace Peterson and right-hander Josh Lindlom. The Sounds were scheduled to open their 2021 season Tuesday night.
Fisher has been on the IL since suffering a left hamstring strain early in exhibition season. Peterson was sidelined during camp and then again on April 22 with a recurring left thumb issue. Lindblom went on the IL with fluid on his right knee after getting roughed up in a game in Chicago on April 23.
Counsell said Lindblom was scheduled to pitch Tuesday night and then at least one more time before being re-evaluated for a return to the Brewers.
Brewers sign Wade LeBlanc, Logan Forsythe
The Brewers announced the signing of two long-time major-league players, left-hander Wade LeBlanc and infielder Logan Forsythe, to minor-league deals with assignments to Class AAA Nashville. Minor-league catcher Christian Kelley also was signed and sent to that club.
LeBlanc, 36, was designated for assignment after six appearances with Baltimore (0-1, 9.45 ERA), including one start. In 13 seasons with eight major-league teams, he has posted a 46-48 record and 4.59 ERA over 246 games (121 starts).
Forsythe, 34, played sparingly last season with Miami, batting .118 over 12 games with one homer, two RBI and .446 OPS. He has played parts or all of 10 seasons in the majors, moving around the infield, with his best years coming in 2015-16 with Tampa Bay.
Kelley, 27, has spent his career in Pittsburgh’s system and is known as a defensive specialist.