Brewers’ Houser tests positive for COVID-19; Yelich feels fine

Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer

MILWAUKEE — Pitcher Adrian Houser has become the latest Milwaukee Brewers player to test positive for the coronavirus.

But the Brewers also finally have a bit of good news as they continue dealing with issues related to the virus. Outfielder Christian Yelich is eligible to come off the COVID-19 injured list and says he’s feeling fine.

“It’s not like I was super sick or anything,” Yelich said. “It was just, `I’m not allowed to do anything.’ I felt fine very quickly. I felt like I did right now on day two. I felt like I had a cold coming on for a day or two, and after that I had a stuffy nose, and by day three to four, I was fine again. I couldn’t taste or smell for a while. That was probably the worst part. It’s still not all the way back. Other than that, it was all good.”

The Brewers haven’t yet made a move involving either Houser or Yelich.

Brewers manager Craig Counsell said before Friday’s game with the San Francisco Giants that they’d decide on a plan for Yelich after he works out. Counsell said Houser reported symptoms Friday and took a test that came back positive.

That means Houser will head to the COVID-19 injured list, forcing him to sit out at least 10 days.

Other Brewers on the COVID-19 reserve list include All-Star closer Josh Hader, starting pitcher Eric Lauer, relievers Jake Cousins, Jandel Gustave and Hunter Strickland plus first baseman Keston Hiura.

All of them are on the list due to positive tests. Gustave had been on the list due to contact tracing, but he has now tested positive as well.

“We don’t know what to expect kind of day to day,” Counsell said. “With Christian being back, we’re 10 days into it, essentially. I don’t know what that means, but that’s how long we’ve been dealing with it. So we’re doing the best we can.”

The Brewers still entered Friday with a seven-game lead over Cincinnati in the NL Central.

Yelich said he started feeling better not long after he went on the injured list. Yelich, who was vaccinated, said he assumed he just had a cold until his test came back positive.

Since he couldn’t leave his home for 10 days, Yelich wasn’t able to participate in any baseball-related activities. The 2018 NL MVP instead spent that time catching up on the television series “Yellowstone” and ordering an acoustic guitar.

“I always wanted to learn how to play,” Yelich said. “I never took the plunge and did it. I was like, `Well, I literally had nothing to do for 10 days, so I might as well give it a shot here.’ ”

The 10-day break continued a frustrating season for Yelich.

Yelich played one game in a five-week stretch from mid-April to mid-May due to a lower back strain. He entered Friday batting .235 with six homers, 28 RBIs and a .367 slugging percentage in 67 games.

“It hasn’t been a great one,” Yelich said of his year. “It’s up and down. What are you going to do? It’s been a great year for our team, and you just have to pass through this little rough spot here and hopefully get our guys back and finish strong. It didn’t all go according to plan. You just have to do the best you can and battle through.”

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.