If Mat Gamel didn’t have bad luck with injuries, he’d have no luck at all.
Gamel was pulled from the Brewers’ first full-squad workout on Saturday after aggravating his right knee. Ron Roenicke told reporters that Gamel “tweaked” the knee while stretching for throws at first base, then again while he was swinging a bat. Gamel tore his ACL in May last season, but said he was good to go to start spring training, even though the knee still “had its days.”
Despite the scare, the Brewers didn’t seem too concerned. An MRI Monday, however, determined that Gamel will be lost for another season.
With Corey Hart out for at least a month of the regular season with a knee injury of his own, the Brewers are now left scrambling to find someone to play first base. Alex Gonzalez was brought up as a possible option to fill in at first when he was brought back as a backup. Taylor Green and Martin Maldonado also have some experience at the position. There’s also Hunter Morris, who was slated to begin the year at Triple-A and isn’t on the 40-man roster. It seems unlikely that the Brewers would start Morris’ service clock and/or burn one of his option years before they have to, though.
There aren’t many free agent options still available, either. Lyle Overbay (Red Sox) and Casey Kotchman (Marlins) have been snatched up in recent weeks, basically leaving the Brewers with Aubrey Huff or Carlos Lee. Neither is very appealing: Huff posted an OPS+ of 77 last season for San Francisco, Lee had an OPS+ of 90 with Houston and Miami.
This is just the latest in a long list of injuries for Gamel. Prior to tearing his ACL last season, he missed time with a sore shoulder after a collision at home plate in late April. He suffered a strained oblique to start spring training in 2011 that kept him out until mid-March, likely costing him a spot on the 25-man roster to start the year. In 2010, he struggled with a foot injury for much of the season before undergoing surgery at the end of September. The foot problems that season came after he missed the first month and a half of the season with a latissmius dorsi tear that he suffered during spring training that year. And in 2009, Gamel again missed time during — you guessed it — spring training with a shoulder impingement.