MRI confirms no structural damage to Carlos Gomez’s knee

MILWAUKEE — Carlos Gomez couldn’t sleep much Thursday night, as the pain in his knee and hip combined with fear for his upcoming MRI kept him awake.

While sitting up, Gomez’s mind raced around thinking he may really have to change the way he plays center field if his injury is serious.

For now, Gomez and the Milwaukee Brewers have dodged a bullet. The team received a bit of good news Friday when the MRI came back negative on Gomez’s injured right knee. 

Injured crashing into the wall while catching a fly ball in the fourth inning of Thursday’s 2-1 loss to Cincinnati, Gomez was on crutches and in a lot of pain after the game. Team physician William Raasch was confident the All-Star had no structural damage after an initial examination, and the MRI confirmed his diagnosis.

With no structural damage in the knee, Gomez has a hip bruise to go along with his right knee sprain and is listed as day-to-day. Still on crutches and moving around slowly, Gomez’s potential return seems at least a few days away.

“I feel worse today, but its because of all of the swelling and a new injury,” Gomez said. “It’s something you feel really bad one day and then the next day you feel really good. You can recover real fast because there isn’t damage to anything and the MRI showed perfectly. That’s really good news.

“My hip today is really, really painful. I can walk around limping, but they want me to walk on the crutches today at least. I did my workout already in the pool and everything went good.”

This is the second time Gomez has survived a serious injury scare after a collision with the wall. He suffered a sprained left shoulder while catching a fly ball in the fourth inning of June 23rd’s game against Atlanta.

His relentless effort and willingness to give up his body are a few of the reasons why Gomez has turned into one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, but he was naturally shaken up by his latest scare.

“In this kind of moment, I think maybe I have to play a little bit deeper so I don’t have to run that fast and that deep in the outfield so I can stay longer in the outfield,” Gomez said. “(There are) just a lot of thoughts in my mind.

“I’ve ran into the wall so many times that I don’t even remember, maybe like 20 times. I continue to hit it. I don’t want to but it happens so quick. When you are fielding the ball and it is a line drive and you put all of your concentration on that play, you don’t even know you are at the wall.”

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke understands why Gomez is thinking the way he is in the immediate aftermath of an injury scare, but doesn’t agree with him. Noting Gomez already plays deeper than most center fielders because of what he was taught with Minnesota, Roenicke said Gomez must learn to be able to take his head off the ball for a moment to see where the wall is.

“I probably would think the same way if I was him,” Roenicke said. “Carlos, the reason he’s so good is because he goes all out. He does it on the basepaths, he does it at the plate, he does it in the outfield. When you start playing cautions — and I know personally — you do not play as well.”

Roenicke quickly recalled a pair of moments he played cautiously in the outfield and they still bother him today.

“One was because of Astroturf,” Roenicke said. “The old Astroturf used to be basically concrete. Everybody kept telling me, ‘You can’t dive on it; you’ll just rip up your forearms.’ There was a bases-loaded play — I was playing for Seattle — and a short fly ball to center, and I came in and could have caught it easy if I would have dove. But because of all this in my mind and playing it cautious, I didn’t dive for the ball, two runs scored and we lose the ballgame. I could have caught the ball. So those things, you can’t play like that.”

On the ball Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips hit Thursday, Gomez sprinted back and jumped to catch the ball. His hip hit the wall as he came down, causing his knee to give out under him.

“It was hard because it was a line drive over my head,” Gomez said. “I got a good jump and when I jumped, I landed off balance. If I land like I’m supposed, I would have been fine. I would have made solid contact with the wall, but not like what happened.

“There’s nothing I can do. When you are out there playing defense, the only thing you can do is try and catch the ball. You don’t want to get hurt, you don’t want to make contact with the wall or a player, but sometimes that happens because it goes so fast and quick.”

As of Friday, the Brewers have no plans to place Gomez on the disabled list. While that could change in the coming days, the team prefers to wait a few days and see how he progresses.

“I don’t think it will be tomorrow,” Roenicke said of a potential return. “But I think (day-to-day) is a good way to call it simply because we don’t know if it’s going to be three to four or seven (days). We don’t really know.

“Tomorrow, the next day, I think they’ll have a pretty good idea where it’s going to be. And hopefully it isn’t going to be that many days.

To cover themselves on the bench and in the outfield with Gomez out for at least a few days, the Brewers called up Sean Halton from Triple-A and optioned right-hander Alfredo Figaro to Nashville.

The Brewers will have to make another roster move prior to Saturday’s game to reinstate right-hander Yovani Gallardo from the disabled list.

“We’re already at a four-man bench and with Gomey down we’re down to a three-man bench and it gets really tough,” Roenicke said. “Can’t make moves and I’ve got to have pitchers ready to pinch hit and pinch run, and that’s not real comfortable when you’re like that.”

Figaro, 29, is 2-3 with a 4.25 ERA in 26 appearances for the Brewers this season. The option used to send Figaro to Triple-A is his last, meaning the Brewers must keep him on the 25-man roster next season if he makes the club.

The plan is for Figaro to start in Triple-A, giving him more innings to work on his off-speed pitches.

“It’s an opportunity when guys come up here, but it’s also an opportunity sometimes when you go down to work on things,” Roenicke said. “He has a good opportunity to work on that off-speed. If he has off-speed pitches, he can do anything here — start, relief, long relief, short relief — but he has to work on that off-speed stuff.”

Halton will be making his second stint with the Brewers, as the 26-year-old hit .200 with a home run and two RBI in 45 at-bats in late June and July.

Optioned to Triple-A on July 25 to make room for reliever Rob Wooten, Halton is hitting .288 with 11 home runs and 47 RBI for the Sounds.

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