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Brewers Notes: Clarke, Woodruff, Arroyo


Right-hander Taylor Clarke suffered a right meniscus injury and is getting a second opinion to see if surgery can be avoided, Brewers manager Pat Murphy told and other media.  Clarke will certainly start the season on the 15-day injured list, and the hope is that he can avoid a significantly longer amount of downtime.

Milwaukee acquired Clarke in a December trade with the Royals, hoping that Clarke could bounce back from a rough 2023 campaign.  The righty posted a 5.95 ERA in 59 innings for Kansas City, as big spikes in Clarke’s barrel and home run rates resulted in 12 homers out of the park over those 59 frames.  His 24.4% strikeout rate was slightly above average, but his walk rate increased sharply to nine percent, after Clarke had posted a very impressive 3.9 BB% in 2022.

Surely the Brewers are hoping Clarke pitches closer to that 2022 form (when he had a 4.04 ERA in 49 innings for K.C.), but for now the priority is just getting him healthy and onto the mound.  Meniscus-related injuries carry a wide range of potential timelines based on the extent of the damage, and whether or not Clarke needs surgery.  If he does have to go under the knife, an absence of 4-6 weeks is probably the best-case scenario for a meniscus surgery.

Turning to another injured Brewers hurler, Brandon Woodruff’s recovery from shoulder surgery will prevent from pitching during the 2024 season, the right-hander told Curt Hogg of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  The right-hander was already expected to miss most of the year rehabbing, which was reflected in both the Brewers’ decision to non-tender Woodruff and in the backloaded nature of the two-year, $17.5MM deal he signed to rejoin the Crew last month.  Woodruff will earn $2.5MM in 2024 and a $5MM salary in 2025, plus a $10MM buyout of a $20MM mutual option for the 2026 season.

The rehab process seems to be going well in these early stages, and Woodruff has started to lightly throw from 30-foot distances.  The two-time All-Star is confident that he’ll be able to return to his old form when he returns to the mound in 2025, and that his knowledge of pitching will allow him to overcome any potential loss of velocity.

Honestly, I’m going be the strongest I’ll ever be at any point in my career because I’m going have a year and just basically get my body ready for pitching….I’m just going to learn so much more about my body,” Woodruff said.  “I’m learning a new shoulder.  But as far as everything goes, I expect to be the same guy.  And you know what?  God forbid if anything else happened, like, I ain’t going to forget to pitch. So I can go out there and still figure it out.”

Despite the injury, several teams reportedly had interest in trading for Woodruff before Milwaukee non-tendered him, and also inquired about signing him after the righty hit the open market.  Woodruff ultimately chose to return to the Brewers due to the trust and comfort level built from his career-long stay in the organization.

Why don’t I keep betting on myself?  Money is not the issue.  I want to win.  I’m comfortable here,” Woodruff said.  “I know the medical staff and they know my shoulder inside and out.  I think I’m just in a good spot in terms of coming back here.  There was a lot of stuff that I weighed out, but I’m able to kind of do – I wouldn’t say do what I want – but I kind of dictate and help run this rehab the way I want.  I’m not learning new people and that was a big part of it.”

In other Brewers news, Christian Arroyo was reassigned to the team’s minor league camp earlier this week, thus giving Arroyo an opt-out decision since he didn’t make the Opening Day roster.  Murphy told Hogg and other reporters that he doesn’t think Arroyo will opt out, plus the infielder also has a minor wrist injury.

This issue could hamper Arroyo’s chances of quickly catching on with another team in free agency, on top of his underwhelming .182/.217/.227 slash line in 23 plate appearances this spring.  Arroyo could take some time at Triple-A to get healed up and then perhaps weigh his options, or simply see if an opportunity might still emerge in Milwaukee.  The Brewers’ projected candidates for second base, third base, and utility infield roles (Brice Turang, Joey Ortiz, Sal Frelick, Andruw Monasterio) are all rather inexperienced, and in Frelick’s case, learning an infield position for the first time.  Arroyo could therefore represent some veteran depth should any of the youngsters struggle, or need more seasoning in the minors.

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