Christian Yelich has never been flashy. He just hits.
That’s about all the drama you’re going to get out of the former National League Most Valuable Player. While he is a baseball superstar, you wouldn’t know it from his normal low-key behavior in a three-game rehabilitation stay in Nashville over the weekend.
Yelich went 0-5 with two walks in short appearances in three games for the Class AAA Sounds, striking out twice. He acted like just one of the guys, signing autographs for kids before the games, even playing a little catch with a young fan between innings.
Yelich has a bad back. That alone is drama for an athlete. He looked healthy in rehab. But anyone who has ever had lower back trouble knows that in some cases you never really get over it. It’s always lurking. That’s why monitoring Yelich’s back will be as important as tracking his on-base and slugging percentages.
He did take an awkward step after one of his strikeouts at First Horizon Park, but he looked pain-free for three days. It looked a bit like spring training games with Yelich alongside such major league veterans as Dee Strange-Gordon and Keston Hiura on the Nashville roster. Yelich played left field for the three days, although he exited each game early, and looked perfectly comfortable.
He had played only one game with the parent club Milwaukee Brewers since April 11, when he left a game in St. Louis with back pain. Yelich is hitting .300 in 40 at-bats for the Brewers, including his 0-for-4 night upon his return to the major league club Tuesday. He did bat in the third spot in the lineup that night.
The club is currently four games behind St. Louis in the National League Central standings.
The division is up for grabs. The Cardinals look like the best of the bunch so far. But the Brewers appear to have as much chance of winning the division as any other team. Yet it is hard to envision a strong Brewer run without Yelich’s bat.
The question is not what the Brewers need to compete. That is known. It’s whether or not Yelich can carry them on his back.