The Milwaukee Brewers intended for a shortstop battle during spring training this year, and it’s finally about to get started.
Coming off back-to-back disappointing seasons, the Milwaukee Brewers were ready to provide a real alternative to starting shortstop Orlando Arcia. Back in November, they acquired Luis Urias from the Padres to be the first real challenger to Arcia’s shortstop job in years.
As a strong winter league performance was unfolding, Urias injured the hamate bone in his hand and underwent surgery back in January. The initial timeline had a 6-8 week recovery before game activity, which put him just on the cusp of being ready for Opening Day at the eight week mark.
Urias has seemingly progressed quickly and closer to the six week timeline instead of eight weeks. Now, Urias has been cleared to play in games and will make his Cactus League debut on Thursday.
This is a great sign for Urias and the Brewers as he’s able to get a week or two of game action in before the start of the season. He’ll make his initial spring appearance with just two weeks until Opening Day.
With his return, this will give the starting shortstop battle more of a two-sided affair than it has been over the first few weeks of spring training.
The Shortstop Battle
Orlando Arcia entered 2020 as the incumbent starting shortstop and so far this spring, he’s done nothing to prove that should change. Armed with a few swing changes, Arcia has slugged his way through Cactus League play in the early going. Through 25 at-bats, Arcia has seven hits, including five home runs, a double, 11 RBIs, and just two strikeouts. His .920 slugging percentage is highest among Brewers players with at least 20 at-bats this spring.
Arcia’s defense has looked great and his bat has been much improved, which gives him a healthy lead over Urias for the starting job with just two weeks to go.
Urias is going to have to put on one heck of a display during these final two weeks if he’s going to overtake Arcia or even make the Opening Day roster. The current roster construction makes it hard to see both Urias and Arcia making the roster unless one of the veterans such as Jedd Gyorko or Eric Sogard are DFAed or released to make room since it’s unlikely either would accept a minor league assignment.
It’ll be good for Urias to see some game action and exciting for Brewers fans to get their first look at their potential replacement for Arcia. It’s still probably going to be Arcia to start the season at shortstop, but if his offensive surge doesn’t continue in the early going, the Brewers could call on Urias.
With Urias back, the Brewers infield unit is at full strength, and is quite deep. How they’re going to manage so many players for so few positions remains to be seen, but if anyone can figure out the best way to do it, Craig Counsell can.