On Friday morning, Brewers outfield prospect Logan Schafer strolled into the Major League clubhouse at Maryvale Baseball Park for the first time this year and saw his name above a fully-stocked locker. It just about broke his heart.
He was supposed to be beginning the first big league Spring Training camp of his budding career, but instead Schafer was there to see one of the team’s doctors. He strained his left groin at the tail-end of a workout in Minor League camp on Thursday afternoon and won’t be able to participate in Major League camp.
The 23-year-old was not expected to compete for a big league job. His invitation was a reward for winning the organization’s Minor League player of the year honor in 2009. Still, it stung.
“It’s terrible timing, you know?” Schafer said. “I’m disappointed, but it’s just a minor bump. It shouldn’t be a big deal other than I’m over here [at the Minor League complex] instead of over there, and we’re all trying to get over there.”
Brewers manager Ken Macha was particularly impressed with Schafer as a Minor League loaner last spring, so much that Schafer was invited (along with infielder Adam Heether) to accompany the team to Los Angeles for exhibition games and then to San Francisco for a workout ahead of Opening Day. Macha said he plans to invite Schafer to sit on the bench during Brewers home games this spring to he can soak up a bit of the Major League experience.
“You guys all know how I feel about him,” Macha told reporters. “Last year, he was impressive.”
Schafer hadn’t heard about the invitation yet.
“I would love that,” he said.
Schafer spent most of last year at Class A Brevard County, winning the Florida State League batting title with a .313 average. He also ranked second in the league with 76 runs scored and third with 31 doubles.
He had been working out at Maryvale Baseball Park since Jan. 16 as part of the team’s winter conditioning program. While other big league campers filtered in to work out and take batting practice this week, Schafer and fellow outfield prospect Lorenzo Cain were asked to remain in Minor League camp until Friday for a more structured program.
Those players were taking part in a simulated game on Thursday and Schafer singled. He broke for second when the next batter hit a ball down the line and felt his groin pull right away. Schafer suffered the same injury last season and missed about a week.
This time, the estimate is that he’ll be out 2-3 weeks. Since his stint in big league camp probably would have been over by then anyway, the Brewers removed him from the camp roster.
“It’s all about the season, really, but it would have been nice to have them take another look at me,” Schafer said. “With a little hard work, I’ll be able to get over there.”