5:31PM: Lauer “was in close contact with someone who had tested positive” for COVID-19, he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak and other reporters today, which caused his delayed arrival in camp. Lauer himself is healthy, thankfully.
TODAY, 8:51AM: Brewers manager Craig Counsell downplayed any issues regarding Lauer while speaking with reporters, including Adam McCalvy of MLB.com (Twitter link). “He’s healthy,” said Counsell, who noted the southpaw “just got slowed down a little bit.” Counsell added that Lauer has a chance to be ready by Opening Day.
JULY 11: The Brewers placed left-hander Eric Lauer on the injured list, the team announced. The placement coincides with the news that Luis Urias and Angel Perdomo are also headed to the IL, and since those two players are known to have tested positive for COVID-19, speculation immediately emerged that Lauer’s absence could also be virus-related.
However, the Brewers did say that Lauer was recently out of action with an illness that wasn’t related to the coronavirus. MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy (Twitter links) guesses that this could be something of “a procedural matter” rather than a positive test, since Lauer is still cleared to participate in workouts and scheduled to throw a bullpen within the next few days. That said, McCalvy figures Lauer’s IL placement has something to do with COVID-19 protocols, as otherwise a specific reason would have been given to his condition. More will be known tomorrow when Lauer is scheduled to speak with the media.
Milwaukee acquired Lauer and Urias from the Padres last November, in a notable swap that saw Zach Davies and Trent Grisham head west to San Diego. Lauer was battling for a rotation job in Spring Training before being shut down with a shoulder impingement that would have seen him start the year on the IL had the season gotten underway as expected in March. Lauer was expected to be ready to participate in Summer Camp before being hit by this mystery illness.
The southpaw has a 4.40 ERA, 2.45 K/BB rate, and 8.2 K/9 over his 261 2/3 career MLB innings, starting 52 of his 53 games with the Padres. Since Lauer might not have enough time to get ready for the new Opening Day, the Brewers (one of the league’s more creative teams when it comes to pitcher deployment) could use him out of the bullpen to begin the year, or perhaps as a piggyback starter or bulk pitcher.