MILWAUKEE With a bevy of injuries and offensive struggles plaguing the Brewers through the first two months of the season, it's often seemed like the team has taken one step forward, only to take two steps back.
And on Wednesday, that pattern continued, as pitcher Marco Estrada opened the first inning with two strikeouts, sweeping through the first three batters in the Giants order. But as Estrada came up to the plate in the bottom of the inning, hitting a two-run double down the third base line, he accelerated and "felt a pop" in his right quad. The injury was initially called a right hip flexor strain, but Estrada said after the game that he thought it was more of a quad injury.
Either way, as Estrada slowly labored off the field on Wednesday, the Brewers were forced to deal with another potentially damaging loss due to injury. Estrada will have an MRI on Wednesday night to determine the severity of the latest ailment.
After the game, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke didn't sound overtly optimistic about Estrada's status.
"It's not just a slight thing," Roenicke said. "He was hoping it would go away and it didn't go away. He strained it. I just don't know how bad."
If Estrada is out for an extended period of time, the Brewers' arms will be forced to stretch even further than they already were, as normal fifth starter Chris Narveson was already lost for the season with a torn rotator cuff. Roenicke acknowledged that the team's pitching depth is just not there right now to properly deal with a serious injury to Estrada. But there are options that Roenicke and the Brewers brass have discussed if Estrada needs to miss his next start.
"If the MRI shows that there is a definite tear, that he's out for a while, we'll try to get some help probably in the bullpen and figure out who will pitch (Estrada's next scheduled start)," Roenicke said. "We could do it with our bullpen. We'll see what we do there."
For Estrada, who had an 0-3 record with 4.50 ERA in 36 innings pitched this season, the injury was especially unfortunate, considering how depleted and overworked the Brewers pitching staff already is.
"It's unfortunate, man," Estrada said. "It's really bad timing how this happened. I don't know how this happened or why, but I felt a pop in my quad. Hopefully it's nothing serious. Hopefully we get some positive feedback."
With Estrada out of the game, the Brewers were forced to go to their bullpen for the game's eight remaining innings. And despite the fact that the bullpen had pitched 28 out of the team's 61 innings against the Giants this week, the Brewers relievers were able to string together one of their best showings of the season. Milwaukee finished the game with a season-high 15 strikeouts.
And if Estrada is sent to the disabled list following Wednesday's injury, that bullpen could be in for even more work in the coming months.
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