Injuries testing Brewers’ depth, resolve
Here’s a sneak peak at a story that will appear on Brewers.com this afternoon. It’ll include Travis Ishikawa and Marco Estrada talking about stepping up, Corey Hart talking about the challenges ahead and a great Randy Wolf’s description of what it’s like for a player felled by an injury.
This has been the sort of very bad week the Brewers avoided last season on the way to the National League Championship Series. Left-hander Chris Narveson underwent surgery Tuesday morning for a torn rotator cuff, a formal end to his season. Hours later, first baseman Mat Gamel tore the ACL in his right knee chasing a foul pop-up. He’ll need surgery, too, and if Gamel does not miss the rest of the regular season, he will miss most of it.
“We don’t have the luxury of being disappointed,” said left fielder Ryan Braun, who left Wednesday’s loss to the Padres with his own medical issue — a sore right Achilles. “We feel for both of the guys, two guys we were excited about, but nobody is going to feel bad for us.”
Just like the Brewers didn’t feel bad for other teams last season when they encountered injuries. Think of the Cardinals, who won the World Series without ace right-hander Adam Wainwright throwing a single pitch.
Brewers starter Randy Wolf called injuries “part of life” in the Major Leagues, and he would know. He had Tommy John elbow surgery in July 2005 and was sidelined a year. Then he had shoulder surgery in July 2007 and missed the rest of that season.
“I know how it is,” Wolf said. “When you’re playing, you’re in this river, and you’re going along in your little floatie. When you get hurt, you’re stuck on the shore and the season rushes by you.
“That’s how the game is; it has to keep on going. Players have to keep their minds on winning. It’s not like we’re insensitive to something that happens, but we understand that [injuries] do happen, and we have to move on. From this point on, there’s nothing we can do but get over it.”
Leave the worrying to general manager Doug Melvin, who expressed alarm at the number of star Major League players already struck by devastating injuries this season.
Among them: Boston’s Carl Crawford is out indefinitely with a torn ligament in his elbow, the same injury that cost Reds closer Ryan Madson and Royals closer Joakim Soria their seasons. Rays All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria could miss two months with a hamstring injury. Phillies mainstays Ryan Howard (Achilles) and Chase Utley (knees) have yet to play this season.
“I’m worried about our game and the number of injuries in our industry,” Melvin said. “When you have top-quality players going down and missing the whole season, it’s scary.
“You’re talking about star talent missing time, and we have more injuries in baseball than we ever have. I think it’s scary. You can’t plan for it.”
That uncertainty is the stuff that drives GMs crazy.
“We always say, to win you have to have a lot of things go right,” Melvin said. “You have to get big years out of somebody you didn’t count on. You have to stay free of injuries. But, it gives other opportunities to other people too, and it keeps your scouting people working, keeps their minds going.”
A number of Brewers players insisted that the team’s aim — defend the division crown, return to the postseason — will not change.
The river will keep flowing.
“The goal for this team can’t change,” Wolf said. “Not on May 2.”
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