MILWAUKEE — Lorenzo Cain is eligible to come off the disabled list Wednesday but won’t quite be ready to go when the Milwaukee Brewers wrap up their three-game series against the Minnesota Twins with a matinee at Miller Park.
Cain has been sidelined since June 24 with a strained left groin and had been making progress in his rehab but isn’t 100 percent yet and will need a little more time, manager Craig Cousnell said.
“He had a good day on the field, but there’s enough caution there that we have to get over the last hurdle,” Counsell said. “We’re not to 100 percent yet. We’re definitely going in a good direction.”
Christian Yelich has been out since the first inning of Sunday’s game thanks to a stiff back but he took batting practice for a third straight day Tuesday and came into the game as a ninth-inning defensive sub, leaving him on the verge of returning to the lineup — perhaps as early as Wednesday.
“He’s feeling pretty good,” Counsell said. “I’m very optimistic.”
With both Cain and Yelich out, and Jesus Aguilar punishing opposing pitchers while playing first base, Eric Thames has become a regular in Milwaukee’s outfield. Since returning from a 40-day stint on the disabled list June 12, Thames has made five starts at first and 10 in the outfield. He’s appeared in 18 games overall since returning, batting .226 with four home runs and 11 RBIs during that stretch but has been red-hot over the last week with three home runs over his last six games.
“I’m just trying to have quality at-bats and trying not to hit 30 home runs in the first week to try and catch back up with everybody else,” said Thames, who’s third on the team with 12 home runs this season. “I’m just trying to have good at-bats, get on base, take my walks, trying not to swing at everything that comes over the plate like I did in Cincinnati. I’m just trying to take a quality at-bat and help the team win.”
Thames’ two-run homer was the difference in Milwaukee’s victory Tuesday and gave the Brewers at least one home run in each of their last nine games.
Jose Berrios will try to stop that streak Wednesday as he leads the Twins in their efforts to avoid a sweep. The right-hander served up two home runs his last time out as he was dinged for six runs on six hits and four walks over just 4 1/3 innings by the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
“I don’t know if it’s the hottest game I’ve thrown, but coming from 80 degrees to almost 100, I felt it out there,” Berrios said through an interpreter. “I wanted to keep competing for my team. … I kind of felt like I lost stamina out there because it was so hot. It just was what it was.
“I tried to execute my pitches. I struck out (two). I kept trying to battle. It wasn’t my day today.”
It was Berrios’ worst outing of the season and snapped what had been an impressive stretch for the young right-hander. He’d gone 5-1 with a 2.05 ERA in his eight previous starts, striking out 69 with just 11 walks in 57 innings of work.
“Jose was just a little off,” manager Paul Molitor said. “Command of fastball, a couple breaking balls that he got hurt on. … Glanced up there now and then. (His velocity) was maybe down a mile or two from what you would expect.”
Wednesday will mark his first career appearance against the Brewers, who counter with right-hander Chase Anderson.
Anderson allowed just a run over six innings in his last outing, Friday at Cincinnati, and is 3-3 with a 4.40 ERA in eight starts since returning from the disabled list on May 20.
He’s faced Minnesota just once in his career and took the loss after allowing five runs (four earned) on 11 hits over five innings back on April 18, 2016.