Milwaukee Brewers first baseman/outfielder Eric Thames is expected to rejoin the Brewers next week during the team’s upcoming home stand at Miller Park, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Thames is currently on a minor league rehab assignment with the Brewers’ Triple-A Affiliate in the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Thames has been playing first base and the outfield on the rehab assignment, which we will likely see him do once he is activated next week. Thames is expected to be activated for the team’s series against the Chicago Cubs that starts Monday, but if he’s not, he will certainly return from the disabled list against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The 31-year-old Thames has been out since April 25 after undergoing thumb surgery to repair a torn UCL in his left thumb. After surgery, the Brewers gave the timetable that Thames would be able to return after 6-8 weeks of recovery, and Thames is currently fitting right into that time frame.
In Thames’ absence, Jesus Aguilar and Ryan Braun have seen the playing time at first base. Aguilar has absolutely raked there, with a .295/.367/.538 slash line and 10 home runs and 32 runs batted in. The majority of Braun’s playing time is still coming in left field, but the play of Aguilar has prevented the Brewers from getting Braun much playing time at first.
The playing time situation is something that manager Craig Counsell will have to sort out. Ji-Man Choi, another first baseman, will likely not be on the active 25-man roster by the time Thames makes his return as he’ll likely be optioned on Sunday for pitcher Brandon Woodruff, but there has to be an extra emphasis on getting Aguilar’s bat in the lineup more with Thames fully-healthy.
One way to keep Aguilar in the lineup is to have Thames play the outfield, which appears to be in the cards based on the way Thames has rehabbed so far. Braun and fellow outfielder Domingo Santana have struggled offensively this season, so it’s incredibly likely Thames will join Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain in a corner outfield spot in favor of those two on certain days.
There are other ways to keep Aguilar in the lineup as well, like having him play third base and Thames at first, but Aguilar at third means there is no where for Travis Shaw to play, and Counsell won’t even think about taking his best run producer out of the lineup (nor should he). So. it’s likely that the first option is the Brewers best bet when it comes to making sure Thames and Aguilar both play often.
Prior to his injury, Thames was having another strong month of April, with a .250/.351/.625 batting line and 7 home runs and 13 runs batted in. His final two homers of April were both against the Cincinnati Reds, who he hit 10 of his 31 homers in 2017 against.
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