The 2012 Milwaukee Brewers had more than their fair share of injuries through a tough regular season.
On Sunday, they got two steps to full strength as utility player Mat Gamel and pitcher Chris Narveson were cleared to return to baseball activities at the beginning of the Milwaukee Brewers Spring Training schedule.
Neither Gamel nor Narveson will have an easy road back, but after the pair suffered devastating season-ending injuries perhaps the most important thing is that doctors and Brewers officials believe they are ready to get back to 100%.
Mat Gamel was the regular first baseman to begin the Brewers season in 2012. In early May, Gamel tore his ACL and was done for the entire year. Before that happened, he did leave a little bit to be desired both on offense and defense. Over 21 games, Mat went .246/.293/.348, stole three bases, hit one home run and drove in six runs.
It’s safe to say that he simply didn’t settle in before his injury. He’ll have to work a lot harder to settle in a lot sooner, as the Milwaukee Brewers expect to use him as the starting first baseman until the injured Corey Hart comes back from his surgery. Gamel himself went under the knife mid-way through the season, and was ready for a possible stint in the Arizona Fall League, although the exemption for him fell through.
According to team sources, Gamel’s running and participation will be limited at the beginning of the Spring Training season, but he is otherwise ready to go for Cactus League play. Gamel will not only get work at first base, but should have time in the oufield as well, and as a last resort at third base.
Brewers pitcher Chris Narveson recovered fully from surgery on a torn rotator
cuff as well as the labrum in his throwing shoulder. He had the surgery in May and returned to throwing work late in the 2012 season. Now he too is cleared 100% to return to baseball activities, and he walked right into a gunfight.
Chris Narveson, before his injury last season, was an obvious choice for the starting rotation. When he went down, his place (and the place of various other injured arms throughout the year) was taken by the likes of Tyler Thornburg, Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, and Wily Peralta. Those young arms are going to be back in Phoenix, fighting right along with the veteran for one of the spots in Milwaukee’s starting rotation.
Over his career, Narveson has been a dependable middle-to-bottom member of the rotation, and if popular opinion holds true Narvy would probably be fighting for the third to fifth spot. Time will tell how that will turn out, but Narvy has been working hard since the end of the regular season to make sure he has the firepower for this battle.
Every piece of a Major League Baseball team is important, but some pieces just tend to fit in a lot better. Chris Narveson and Mat Gamel are hoping that in 2013, they can be two of those pieces.