The news on the injury front seems to be getting worse and worse for the Milwaukee Brewers. Shortly after receiving word that starting centerfielder Garrett Mitchell would miss potentially the rest of the 2023 season with a torn labrum, another Brewers centerfielder went under the knife.
The Brewers announced on Tuesday that #2 prospect Sal Frelick underwent surgery to repair the torn UCL in his thumb and he's expected to be out 6-8 weeks.
An ulnar collateral ligament, or UCL, is not exclusive to the elbow, although when most people hear of a UCL injury, that's what they think of. But there's one in the thumb as well and Frelick tore his, ironically enough, also sliding into a base, just like Garrett Mitchell. Also, ironically enough and just the Brewers luck, Frelick's injury occurred on the same night as Mitchell's.
In Mitchell's absence, many expected the Brewers to call upon Frelick to fill the gap. Instead, Frelick needs an absence of his own. The timing could not have been worse for Frelick or the Brewers.
Frelick hadn't been off to his best start in Triple-A this year, hitting .232/.317/.321 through 15 games with three doubles, a triple, and four stolen bases. Last year, across three levels, Frelick hit .331/.403/.480 with 11 homers and 24 stolen bases.
Luckily for Frelick, his injury has a shorter recovery window than Mitchell's. Frelick should be back sometime in June. From there, it'll likely be a matter of getting enough at bats in the minors to feel comfortable at the plate and make sure there are no lingering effects from the injury. Once he's back in the swing of things, literally and metaphorically, the Brewers will likely be in a position where they will look to promote Frelick to the big leagues.
Tyrone Taylor should be returning from his injury soon, and that should help the Brewers outfield depth crisis they're facing right now. Both of the primary and secondary centerfield options are down for an extended period of time and for the next two months, they'll be relying on Joey Wiemer and Taylor a lot in center.
The Brewers are weathering a number of injuries right now. In addition to Frelick, at the big league level Milwaukee has Mitchell, Taylor, Luis Urias, Brandon Woodruff, Aaron Ashby, Adrian Houser, Jason Alexander, Gus Varland, Matt Bush, and Justin Wilson on the IL. That's 10 players, and Frelick makes 11, even though he's not yet on the 40 man, he's an important piece that would be on the roster right now if it weren't for this injury.