Injuries interrupt spring for Brewers' prospects

Injuries interrupt spring for Brewers' prospects

Injuries interrupt spring for Brewers' prospects
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Brewers outfield prospect Caleb Gindl was back in his apartment after having an MRI on his injured right knee when his Spring Training roommate called. Considering it was 3:30 p.m. in Phoenix, and Logan Schafer was supposed to be playing in the Brewers-Giants game over in Scottsdale, Gindl figured it was bad news.

His intuition was right.

Schafer fractured his right thumb sliding into second base in that game, and for the second straight year his Spring Training has ended early. In 2010, Schafer suffered a groin injury the day before he was to report to his first big league camp, and never made it. The day he returned, he fouled a ball off his right foot and suffered a broken bone.

Now, he's got a broken thumb to worry about. Schafer visited later Tuesday morning with hand specialist Dr. Don Sheridan, who deemed a surgical fix necessary. Schafer will undergo the procedure on Thursday, and the Brewers say he'll miss 4-6 weeks.

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"I was having so much fun out here playing with these guys," Schafer said. "When something like this happens, it's obviously really disappointing. But I'm not sitting here feeling sorry for myself. I have work to do."

The news was better for Gindl, who was hurt crashing into a chain-link fence at Maryvale Baseball Park on Sunday. He was returned to Minor League camp on Tuesday, but will miss 3-5 days with a right upper calf strain. His knee, the initial worry, appears OK.

Gindl was more worried about his roommate.

"I feel terrible for him," Gindl said. "He went through so much last year, and he was just getting back on track. You hate to see anybody go down, but especially him, because you had this feeling that he was so close.

"He's down right now, but he has the best attitude you can have at this point. There's nothing you can do about injuries."

Other young players around the game have learned that lesson this spring. Rays pitching prospect Jeremy Hellickson didn't pitch in a Spring Training game until last week because of a right hamstring strain, but after another outing on Tuesday he appears back on track to be Tampa Bay's fifth starter.

Back in Arizona, the Rangers have had four young pitchers set back by injuries. Tanner Scheppers, ranked 43rd in's Top 50 prospects, had his chances of making the Rangers cut short by stiffness in his lower back -- while Minor League prospects Fabio Castillo (stress fracture in his foot), Wilmer Font (Tommy John surgery) and Miguel De Los Santos (biceps tendinitis) were all limited this spring.

Cubs outfielder Brett Jackson, that club's No. 1 pick in 2009, had a scare in Las Vegas on Saturday, when he injured his shoulder making a diving catch. But it's not considered serious.

And right here in Goodyear, where the Brewers and Indians squared off for the first time this spring, 25-year-old Cleveland corner infielder Jared Goedert has spent most of his spring rehabbing a right rib-cage strain.

Goedert is only a year older than Schafer, and both players were almost certainly ticketed for the Minor Leagues -- even before their setbacks. Still, the missed opportunity stings.

"It's frustrating to not be able to go out in Spring Training and see what I can do," Goedert said. "It was a good opportunity. Now, I can only do what I can do to get myself healthy, and get back out there as soon as I can."

Schafer will have to wait for the Minor League regular season. He was at first base in the fifth inning of Monday's game against the Giants, when Prince Fielder hit a ground ball to first base. Schafer did exactly what he was supposed to do, charging toward second base to break up the double play, occupying the inside land and then sliding toward shortstop Miguel Tejada, and reaching for the base.

His right hand hit either Tejada's shoe or the bag -- Schafer isn't sure. One look at his thumb, bent the wrong way, and he knew it was bad.

"Bad luck," he said. "This is obviously something I've been through before. It's still disappointing."

Especially because it keeps happening.

"Injuries are a part of the game, but it seems like they're happening to me a lot," Schafer said.

Mat Gamel knows the feeling. The Brewers' third-base prospect has missed time in all three of his big league camps, and did not make his 2011 debut until Tuesday because of a rib-cage strain.

Gamel suffered that injury very early in Spring Training. He served as Milwaukee's designated hitter on Tuesday, after weeks of slow rehabilitation.

"When this latest one happened, I couldn't help but say, 'What's next?'" Gamel said.

He feels for Schafer.

"He was having a good spring, and was making an impression -- and then it's over," Gamel said. "What are you going to do, man? You have to roll with the punches. You know that if you play this game, you're going to go through some things -- some people just go through more than others."

"You always have to remember," added Gindl, "that it could always be worse. It could be career-ending. You look at a guy like Schafer and feel so bad, and you realize my situation could be worse. All that he's gone through, and now he's down again. Tough break for the guy."

Here's some good news for the Brewers' disappointed young outfielders: They made the most of their time in big league camp. Schafer hit .318 and played each of the first 15 days of Cactus League action, while Gindl hit .412 with a .500 on-base percentage.

"Gindl and Schafer have both impressed us," manager Ron Roenicke said. "They were obviously long shots to make our team. But with both those guys, if something happens in the season, they've shown me enough that I'm comfortable with them coming up."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.