If Mat Gamel didn’t have bad luck, he wouldn’t have any luck at all.
After fighting his way back from a torn ACL suffered last May, the Brewers first baseman didn’t make it through the first couple of days of spring training before tearing it again.
Gamel – who got a clean bill of health at Brewers On Deck in late January and again when he reported to camp – was taking a ground ball last Saturday when he felt his knee get “a little shifty.” The Brewers shut him down for a few days, but the knee didn’t improve.
An MRI was then taken, revealing the tear. Now, after an already grueling rehab process, Gamel has to start it all over again. It’s hard not to feel bad for the guy, especially because he’s waited for his opportunity to be a starter at the big-league level and suffered a serious injury both times he had the chance.
“Not real happy, obviously,” Gamel said this week. “But I mean what do you do? You rehab it again and try and get it stronger.
“You’ve got to stay positive, I think. You can’t sit here and pout or feel bad for yourself because that just puts you in a bad mood. You know, make the process harder. So, just stay positive and you know get healthy.”
With starting first baseman Corey Hart out for the first six weeks of the season with a knee injury of his own, Gamel was the favorite to get the majority of the time filling in at first base. It was another opportunity for Gamel to prove himself. He waited behind Prince Fielder for years before starting Opening Day last season.
Then on May 1, Gamel tore the ACL sliding into the wall chasing a pop-up at Petco Park in San Diego, ending his season.
“I feel bad for him,” Hart said. “It’s terrible. It’s a terrible situation, but he works hard. He worked hard to get back and he’ll work just as hard to get back again. He has a lot of support in this clubhouse, so at least he knows that and knows that everybody is on his side and we are going to be there for him.”
Hart took being a good teammate to a new level, however. Worried about how upsetting two major injuries back-to-back can be, the two-time All-Star offered to have Gamel move in to Hart’s Phoenix-area home to provide a support system to his teammate.
Hart said Tuesday he thinks Gamel will take him up on his offer.
“Hopefully he does,” Hart said. “We talked about that a little bit. But anytime you go through one of these things where trials are tough, I think it will help him being around us and just being around positive people for a while.”
It’s hard to find a positive with such a serious injury, but Gamel will know what to expect from the long rehab process because he just went through it.
“I think so,” Gamel said. “It can’t hurt, you know? I know what to expect. I’ve been there before. Last year, where maybe I was a little hesitant to push it, because I didn’t really know, now I know that I can push it … because I’m not going to do damage to it. So I think it’ll help.”
Narveson’s comeback: Brewers left-hander Chris Narveson took another step in his recovery from rotator cuff surgery Wednesday when he threw a live batting practice session.
While Narveson was happy with how the ball felt coming out of his hand the fact that his shoulder felt good after was maybe the best news of all.
“I’m healthy right now, so that means I’m good to go,” Narveson said. “But as far as on the mound, that’s just going take some repetitions and take some getting used to seeing how hitters react, and trying to get them out again.”
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is pleased with where Narveson is at this point in spring training.
“Narvy has looked really good,” Roenicke said. “(Pitching coach Rick Kranitz) has been really pleased, not only with how the ball has been coming out, but he’s already been commanding the ball. That’s the thing you worry about with shoulder injuries, is coming back and commanding the ball.”
Interviews for this story provided by the Milwaukee Brewers.