Brewers' Christian Yelich Has No 'Significant' Issues After MRI on Back Injury

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2021

Milwaukee Brewers' Christian Yelich tosses his helmet after striking out during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Sunday, April 4, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)
Aaron Gash/Associated Press

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich is working his way back to the field after an MRI showed no major issues in the lower-back problem that has kept him off the field since April 11.

"We basically just ruled out anything significant structurally that would show up on the MRI," Brewers manager Craig Counsell told reporters Sunday. "We still need to make progress to get him back on the field and so from that perspective not much has changed. But we'll keep moving forward and see what some activity tomorrow at the field brings."

The 29-year-old Yelich is in the midst of his fourth season with the Brewers, and he has struggled through injuries thus far in 2021.

Yelich has already missed 11 games with a back injury that he suffered in April. In nine games played so far this season, Yelich is hitting .333 with a .459 on-base percentage with one RBI.

While Yelich showed a great deal of potential during his five seasons with the Miami Marlins, it wasn't until he got traded to Milwaukee in 2018 that he truly broke out.

During his first season with the Brew Crew, Yelich won the National League batting title with a .326 batting average and also clubbed 36 home runs and 110 RBI, while scoring 118 runs and stealing 22 bases.

Yelich was named an All-Star for the first time in his career thanks to that performance, and he also won the NL MVP Award.

He was arguably even better in 2019, winning another batting title with a .329 average and recording 44 homers, 97 RBI, 100 runs and 30 steals. Yelich finished second in the MVP voting but impressively did all of that in 130 games, as his season was cut short due to a fractured kneecap.

Yelich didn't bounce back from that injury as well as hoped in 2020, and he never truly found his rhythm during the COVID-shortened season. In 58 games, Yelich hit a career-low .205 with 12 homers, 22 RBI, 39 runs and four stolen bases.

Despite Yelich's struggles to return to his 2018 and 2019 level of play, he is still a hugely important player for the Brewers who will be difficult to replace if he misses time.

Bill McKinney has been the main beneficiary in terms of earning more playing time in the outfield along with starters Avisail Garcia and Jackie Bradley Jr., and that should continue.