The Brewers announced Wednesday that they’ve placed shortstop Willy Adames on the 10-day injured list with a high ankle sprain. The move is retroactive to May 16. Infielder Keston Hiura is up from Triple-A Nashville to take his spot on the roster.
Adames exited the Brewers’ game on Sunday after sustaining the injury when sliding into home plate on a sacrifice fly. The 26-year-old was in visible pain as he limped off the field after scoring the run. Manager Craig Counsell said after the game that X-rays came back negative, but president of baseball ops David Stearns acknowledged earlier this week that an IL stint was still on the table.
It’s been an odd start to the season for Adames, who a year ago this time served as a direly needed jolt to the Brewers lineup. Acquired from the Rays in a rare May trade of significance — J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen went back to Tampa Bay in what looks like a win-win deal — Adames erupted with a .285/.366/.521 slash in 413 plate appearances as a Brewer. He’s been a key to the offense again in 2022, as his nine home runs place him in a six-way tie for tops in the National League. At the same time, he’s also hitting just .208 with a lackluster .304 on-base percentage. Adames has been dogged by a .228 average on balls in play, however, and this year’s 11.5% walk rate is a career-high. Statcast pegs his “expected” batting average at a much healthier .261, and prior to the injury, it seemed safe to expect that Adames’ overall offensive output would tick upward as the season wears on.
Any change in fortune will now be on hold as Adames allows his ankle to mend, and his performance in the aftermath will of course be dependent on the extent to which the injury heals. In his absence, Milwaukee figures to turn to Luis Urias as the primary option at shortstop. It was Urias’ defensive shortcomings as a shortstop that prompted the Brewers to trade for Adames in the first place, but as a short-term option, they’ll live with any defensive woes in exchange for what has been a brilliant run at the plate. The 24-year-old Urias is hitting .298/.404/.457 in 13 games since being activated from the injured list himself.
As for Hiura, he’ll get his latest chance to deliver on the talent that made him the ninth overall selection in the 2017 draft. He delivered a mammoth .303/.368/.570 showing in 348 plate appearances as a 22-year-old rookie in 2019, but Hiura’s bat has gone backwards as his strikeout rate has mounted. Since that brilliant debut effort, he’s mustered just a .194/.282/.363 batting line while punching out in 37.5% of his plate appearances. That includes a ghastly 47.5% strikeout rate in 42 plate appearances this season, but Hiura has been on a tear since being sent down to Nashville, where he’s hit .421/.522/.895 with three homers and six strikeouts in 23 plate appearances (26.1% strikeout rate).
The Brewers have yet to provide a potential timetable for Adames’ return to the lineup, though presumably Counsell and/or Stearns will have more information prior to today’s afternoon tilt against the Rays.