MARCH 29: Topa has a flexor tendon strain and is unlikely to pitch for at least the first half of the season, Counsell told Haudricourt and other reporters (Twitter link).
MARCH 28: Brewers manager Craig Counsell discussed some roster situations with MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy (Twitter links), the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt (Twitter links) and other reporters today, and Counsell revealed that right-hander Justin Topa will begin the season on the injured list. Topa underwent an MRI last night after he felt elbow discomfort during a simulated game, and the club is still waiting on the results.
Any sort of elbow problem is of particular concern for Topa, who has already undergone two Tommy John surgeries. Despite these injury setbacks, Topa battled through five seasons in the affiliated minors and an indy ball stint before finally making his MLB debut in 2020. Though Topa only tossed 9 2/3 total innings over six regular-season outings and one postseason game, the righty opened some eyes by allowing just two earned runs and recording 12 strikeouts against just a single walk.
Topa and Derek Fisher (hamstring) will both be on the 10-day injured list, but Counsell doesn’t believe the IL will be necessary for either Lorenzo Cain or Jackie Bradley Jr. The two veteran outfielders had missed some time in camp with quad and wrist problems, respectively, though Counsell indicated that he wouldn’t push Cain or Bradley hard in the early stages of the season. The Brewers were already planning to deploy something of a timeshare in the outfield in order to keep everyone fresh, and beyond Cain, Bradley, Christian Yelich, and Avisail Garcia, Billy McKinney might yet make the team in a bench role for further depth.
Speaking of Milwaukee’s bench, Counsell also said that Daniel Vogelbach made the Opening Day roster. Though the Brewers tendered Vogelbach a contract over the winter, there was some thought that the team could still cut Vogelbach (whose $1.4MM deal isn’t guaranteed until Opening Day) because Vogelbach doesn’t offer much in the way of bench versatility. The slugger is blocked by Keston Hiura at first base, and since the NL won’t have the designated hitter spot available this season, Vogelbach is likely just limited to pinch-hit opportunities and DH duty in interleague games. Still, the Brewers decided Vogelbach was worth keeping in the fold, considering his .987 OPS in 67 PA for Milwaukee last season.