CHICAGO — Purely from a health perspective, the diagnosis of Brandon Woodruff‘s injured right ankle was relatively good news. From a timing perspective, however, it was “terrible.”
The Brewers placed the two-time All-Star right-hander on the 15-day injured list Monday with a high right ankle sprain after Woodruff underwent an MRI scan earlier in the day. The club doesn’t consider the injury to be a serious long-term issue, but Woodruff’s absence further thinned a roster that has lost fellow All-Star starter Freddy Peralta (right shoulder), shortstop Willy Adames (left ankle), right-fielder Hunter Renfroe (right hamstring) and reliever Luis Perdomo (right elbow) to the IL all within the past two weeks.
“It’s just normal baseball. That’s the sad part about it,” Woodruff said. “Everybody wants to be healthy. It sucks because it came at a bad time, but honestly, I would rather this pop up right now than it pop up in August or September. We can manage the middle part of the season.
“But yes, it’s very bad timing because Freddy just went down and he’s going to be out for a while. I don’t think it’s going to be a month-long deal or nothing. I’m hoping it’s going to be a couple of weeks and I get to be back out there. I’ll have to rest these first couple of days and let everything calm down.”
Woodruff felt pain in his ankle during the fourth inning of his last start in St. Louis on Friday and figured he would be able to pitch through it. When he took the mound for the fifth, however, the discomfort persisted and he was forced from the game.
The Brewers send Woodruff to Milwaukee for tests and an MRI that confirmed some damage to the ligament on the outside of his ankle.
“It’s a very similar injury to Willy’s, actually,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “So, we’ve got to back off him. He’s experiencing the pain still when he throws and so we just need to back off that and calm that down.”
Said Woodruff: “I just knew something wasn’t right and I couldn’t perform the way I wanted to perform. Honestly, this is the best-case scenario. I’m going to take some rest the first few days here, let the ankle calm down, do some strengthening and treatment and then progress in a few days to throwing again and seeing how it feels. I think it’s just something that I have to let it calm down for a few days and then get back to activities. The hard part is when you starting throwing again, it’s such a repetitive motion, what’s that going to look like? That’s the part we have to manage a little bit.”
How much time he’s down will help dictate the Brewers’ plans for filling that spot.
The Brewers already elevated Aaron Ashby from swingman to a bona fide member of the starting rotation in light of Peralta’s shoulder injury, which will sideline him for a significant portion of this season. They called up top pitching prospect Ethan Small to start Game 1 of Monday’s doubleheader, and while Small is a candidate to stay and make starts, the Brewers will need someone to pitch in Woodruff’s spot on Wednesday against the Cubs.
Asked about a timeframe, Counsell said: “We don’t really know. Right now, it’s really just when we can calm it down enough where he doesn’t have pain when he throws. I think it could be very short, it just takes us a little while to calm it down.”