Brewers reliever Corey Knebel to get second opinion on ailing elbow

March 22, 2019

With Opening Day one week away, the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday were facing the prospect of beginning the season without either of their top two right-handed relievers.

An examination of 2017 All-Star Corey Knebel by team physician William Raasch revealed an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) issue Thursday. Knebel will seek a second opinion.

“There’s reason for concern,” said manager Craig Counsell, who noted it was not a complete tear. “Corey has pitched with this for a long time. We’ve got to figure out what’s there, what’s new. Make sure we get the right answer and then move forward.”

Knebel’s situation is doubly concerning for the Brewers because their other right-handed bullpen stud, Jeremy Jeffress, is already slated to open the season on the injured list because of what he described as shoulder weakness earlier in camp. The most optimistic estimate has Jeffress in the majors by mid-April at the earliest.

Knebel threw fastballs and curveballs in a quick inning against the Dodgers on Sunday in Glendale, Arizona, but Counsell noticed a dip in fastball velocity.

Rotation set

Counsell revealed his starting pitching plans beyond Jhoulys Chacín on Opening Day.

Last year’s Opening Day starter, Chase Anderson, will begin the year in the bullpen. Zach Davies will start the fifth regular-season game in Cincinnati. And 22-year-old Freddy Peralta, 24-year-old Corbin Burnes and 26-year-old Brandon Woodruff will get the other three rotation spots in an order to be determined.

“It’s time for them to start,” Counsell said. “That’s the decision that we made, that we’re going to put them in the rotation.”

Veteran right-hander Josh Tomlin, 34, released from his minor league contract on Wednesday after he was told he wouldn’t make the Opening Day roster, signed a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves.

Dodgers beaten

A two-run home run from catcher Yasmani Grandal and a three-run shot from third baseman Tyler Saladino — the latter capping a six-run sixth inning — highlighted the Brewers’ 11-5 victory over the Dodgers in Phoenix.

Burnes started and struck out nine and gave up on three runs on five hits in five innings.

Justin Turner hit a three-run homer and Cody Asche had a two-run shot for the Dodgers. Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed four runs and five hits in his five-inning start.