HomeMLB RumorsBrewers Notes: Williams, Frelick, Sanchez

Brewers Notes: Williams, Frelick, Sanchez

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Brewers closer Devin Williams has pitched just 1 1/3 frames across two appearances this spring thanks to a sore back, which manager Pat Murphy indicated to reporters (including Curt Hogg of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) has been bothering him throughout most of the spring. After previously getting an MRI to determine the source of the issue, Murphy added that Williams is set to meet with a spine specialist in California on Wednesday to receive a second opinion and make sure that he hasn’t suffered a more serious injury. Barring a second opinion changing the club’s course, Murphy indicated that the plan for Williams is to “give him some time off” in hopes that will treat the ailment.

Williams, 29, has established himself among the game’s most elite closers in recent years. Though the right-hander made his debut late in the 2019 season, he retained rookie eligibility into the 2020 season, which saw him dominant to an superlative 0.33 ERA with a 0.86 FIP in 27 innings of work, a strong enough performance to earn him the NL Rookie of the Year award during the shortened season. Since then, he’s settled in as one of the most reliably dominant relief arms in the game, having compiled a microscopic 1.75 ERA and 2.26 FIP in 200 1/3 innings over the past four years while striking out a whopping 40.5% of batters faced.

He enjoyed a characteristically excellent season in 2023, posting a 1.53 ERA in 61 appearances while collecting a career-best 36 saves and striking out opponents at a 37.7% clip. That dominance led to some trade speculation this winter as the club parted ways with both manager Craig Counsell and ace right-hander Corbin Burnes, though no deal ever came together regarding Williams and it’s unclear if the Brewers even shopped their relief ace. The right-hander remains under team control in Milwaukee through the end of the 2025 season, so it’s possible the club could look to part ways with Williams at some point in the future, but for the time being the right-hander appears poised to return to his role as Brewers closer come Opening Day if he’s healthy enough to take the field.

More from Brewers camp…

  • Murphy also spoke to reporters, including Hogg, about the prospect of young outfielder Sal Frelick moving to the infield this season. The manager indicated that he feels that Frelick’s work at third base hasn’t been “emphasized” enough and that he could be “one of the best stories in baseball.” Frelick’s potential move to the infield had been reported last month, when The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal indicated that Frelick had begun work at both second and third base. Frelick has since appeared in five games at the hot corner this spring, the same number as he’s appeared in his native right field. Should Frelick’s experiment at third base carry into the regular season on even a part-time basis, it would go a long way to sorting out at-bats in the club’s crowded outfield mix, which includes the likes of Christian Yelich, Jackson Chourio, Garrett Mitchell and Joey Wiemer in addition to Frelick.
  • Catcher Gary Sanchez has been slowed this spring by a right hand issue ever since signing with the Brewers on a big league deal last month, though as noted by MLB.com the 31-year-old backstop made it into game action ahead of schedule by appearing as the club’s DH in yesterday’s game. Sanchez was previously expected to start getting into game action on March 14, putting nearly a week ahead of schedule. That’s a good sign for Sanchez’s ability to get up to speed in time to avoid a stint on the injured list to open the season, though the club has Eric Haase also in camp and on the 40-man roster as a potential alternative backup to primary catcher William Contreras should Sanchez require more time to prepare for the coming campaign. Sanchez lingered on the free agent market through the early months of the 2023 campaign but performed well upon joining the Padres in late May, slashing .218/.292/.500 with 19 home runs in just 260 trips to the plate across his 72 games with the club.

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