Oblique strain shuts down Mat Gamel for at least one week

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For the second straight season a spring training injury has put Brewers prospect Mat Gamel’s chances of cracking the Opening Day roster in jeopardy.

Last spring a shoulder injury caused Gamel to begin the season on the disabled list and he ended up spending nearly the entire year at Triple-A, getting just 15 at-bats with the Brewers.

This time around he has a strained oblique muscle and the Brewers will shut him down for at least seven days and perhaps significantly longer given how much that type of injury tends to linger.

If healthy Gamel is expected to serve as a utility man this season, drawing starts at the infield and outfield corners while trying to show that he’s capable of stepping into the lineup full time at first base next season if/when Prince Fielder departs via trade or free agency.

Gamel has consistently posted strong numbers at Triple-A and held his own in a 61-game stint with the Brewers in 2009, but his shaky defense at third base caused him to fall behind Casey McGehee on the depth chart and Fielder’s presence across the diamond along with Ryan Braun and Corey Hart being entrenched in the outfield corners has left the 25-year-old former top prospect without an obvious spot in the lineup.

Brandon Morrow injured his back taking off his pants

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The Cubs’ bullpen got into trouble in the ninth inning on Tuesday afternoon during the first game of a doubleheader. Justin Wilson started the inning with the Cubs leading 3-2, normally a situation for closer Brandon Morrow. Wilson issued a leadoff walk to Austin Barnes, then gave up a single to Justin Turner. Morrow wasn’t warming up, curiously. Wilson ended up giving up a go-ahead two-run double to pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer and the Cubs went on to lose 4-3.

We now know why Morrow wasn’t available. He says his back tightened up taking off his pants early Monday morning, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports. Morrow said, “It’s frustrating any time you can’t get out there, especially when you can’t go for something as stupid as taking your pants off.”

Morrow, 33, has been terrific in the closer’s role this season for the Cubs. He owns a 1.59 ERA with a 25/9 K/BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings. He is also not available for the back end of Tuesday’s doubleheader, but it sounds like he won’t need to go on the disabled list.