MILWAUKEE — The batting cage at American Family Field was surrounded by smiling faces on Tuesday, and not just because one of the hitting coaches, Ozzie Timmons, wore a wig all afternoon.
For the first time in 2022, Brewers hitters had the whole band together.
Third baseman Luis Urías came off the injured list and made an immediate impact in a 6-3 win over the Reds, scoring on Willy Adames’ three-run home run in the third inning, driving in another with a single in the fourth and finding his way on base all three times he came to the plate in the opener of a series between the National League Central’s first- and last-place teams.
Just how eager were Urías’ teammates to have him back?
“I picked him up at the airport,” Adames said. “He can’t live without me, man.”
If you thought Adames was joking about the airport run, think again. He really did fetch Urías after he arrived Monday night on an off-day for the team. Urías was away all of April rehabbing a left quad injury.
“We’ve been waiting for him since Opening Day,” Adames said. “We’ve been calling him a lot and trying to rush him, like, ‘Hey, get here, man. We’re waiting for you.’ … He was so excited, he wanted to come to the field. I said, ‘Hey, take it easy man, the game is tomorrow!’”
The Reds fell to 3-20 at the expense of a Brewers team on a roll.
Brandon Woodruff tied his career high with 12 strikeouts and, following Eric Lauer’s 11-strikeout performance on Saturday and Corbin Burnes’ 10 strikeouts on Sunday, made this the first time in franchise history that the Brewers got double-digit strikeouts from their starting pitchers in three consecutive games.
Adames homered in his first game after being named NL Player of the Week and Rowdy Tellez rebounded from strikeouts in his first three at-bats with a home run for insurance in the eighth. Devin Williams went 1-2-3 in the ninth for the save on a night Josh Hader was sidelined by a bad back. Milwaukee won for the 12th time in its last 15 games.
And now, with Urías back, bidding to build on a 2021 season in which he led the team in hits, extra-base hits and runs scored, the offense is finally intact.
“Luis is kind of the little brother of the team,” manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s probably the best way to describe him because he is still very young. He’s welcomed and everybody is happy to have him back. We’ve missed him for four weeks here and he really wasn’t on the field in Spring Training, either.”
Urías tweaked his left quad in the second game of the Cactus League slate and the Brewers thought he’d miss a few days. Instead, the issue lingered whenever he tried running at top speed, and he spent the entire month of April in rehab mode.
The Brewers eventually sent Urías to Double-A Biloxi to log 31 plate appearances. He went 4-for-27 with a double and returned with a blunt assessment of those at-bats.
“They didn’t go well at all,” Urías said, smiling. “I kind of struggled a little bit down there. I have to give some credit to the guys down there. I was more worried about my body feeling good and being able to move around.”
In that department, Urías said, the assignment was a success. The Brewers brought him back on Monday, coinciding with the deadline for teams to trim their rosters from 28 to 26. Counsell intends to ease Urías back into everyday duties, meaning there will still be some opportunities for left-handed-hitting third baseman Jace Peterson in the short term.
It was a welcome addition. Brewers third basemen slashed .182/.289/.227 with one home run and six RBIs in 23 games while he was down.
“I got to see him a little bit before the game and he’s still the same old ‘Wicho,’ just strolling around the clubhouse,” Woodruff said. “He adds a lot of versatility to our lineup. We can do some different things now and put some guys in spots where they’re naturally supposed to be.”
What was the toughest part about being away?
“Not being able to compete, not being able to be with my teammates was kind of hard,” Urías said. “I would say that’s probably the toughest part of being hurt, but it is what it is. I’m back now and I’m ready to go.”