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NL Central Notes: Taylor, Cubs, Reynolds, Chandler

Tyrone Taylor’s recovery from an elbow sprain isn’t going as well as hoped, Brewers manager Craig Counsell tells Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The team first revealed Taylor’s injury last week and said Taylor would miss at least the first two weeks of spring games, but a more pessimistic update with games already underway clouds the 28-year-old’s readiness for Opening Day.

“We’re not any closer,” Counsell said. “As we move on here, we’re starting to be concerned for sure because we want to get him started and he’s not doing any baseball activities, and we don’t have any on the horizon.”

Taylor, 29, hit .233/.286/.442 through a career-high 405 plate appearances last season, showing plenty of pop and a good glove across all three outfield spots, which helped to offset an OBP that ranked 181st among the 205 players who tallied at least 400 plate appearances. Taylor’s right-handed bat, on paper anyway, pairs nicely with lefty-swinging outfielders like Christian Yelich, Jesse Winker and Garrett Mitchell. If the club wants to keep a right-handed bat in the outfield mix, offseason signee Brian Anderson could move from third base into right field, freeing some early time for Luis Urias at third base. Prospect Brice Turang could take second base if he makes the team, but Abraham Toro and Owen Miller could also see some time at the keystone.

There’s plenty of versatility for the Brewers to mix-and-match on the roster, which has been a hallmark of their clubs in recent seasons. Milwaukee still hasn’t provided a firm update as to when Taylor might realistically be able to get back into a game, but with Opening Day just over a month away and rehab not progressing well, an IL stint to begin the season is possible.

A few more notes from the division…

  • The Cubs haven’t provided a clear timetable for how long Seiya Suzuki’s strained oblique might keep him out of action — though the injury is notable enough that Suzuki has withdrawn from the World Baseball Classic. However, even in the event of some missed time, free agent Jurickson Profar isn’t a likely option for the Cubs, writes Patrick Mooney of The Athletic. The team is about $8MM shy of the $233MM luxury-tax barrier and doesn’t seem particularly inclined to cross it at this time, per Mooney, who adds that any remaining resources are likelier to be allocated to the bullpen or be earmarked for potential midseason upgrades on the trade market. If the Cubs are still pondering another addition in the bullpen, some of the top names remaining include Zack Britton, Will Smith, Brad Hand and Corey Knebel.
  • Imaging on Matt Reynolds revealed a Grade 1 strain in both of the infielder’s quadriceps muscles, Reds skipper David Bell told reporters (Twitter link). Despite the pair of ailments, Reynolds is only expected to be sidelined for a few days, so he should still be in the running for a bench spot on the Cincinnati roster to begin the season. The 32-year-old appeared in a career-high 93 games for the Reds in 2022 and slashed .246/.320/.332 in 272 plate appearances while appearing at every position on the diamond other than catcher.
  • Pirates prospect Bubba Chandler has been told that he will strictly be a pitcher this year, per Sam Dykstra of MLB Pipeline. A third round draft pick in 2021, he’s been playing both sides of the ball so far in his professional career. He tossed 41 1/3 innings in the minors last year with a 2.61 ERA, striking out 34.7% of batters faced while walking 16.2%. At the plate, however, he hit just .196/.331/.382, walking in 16.1% of his trips to the plate but getting punched out 33.1% of the time. It seems a return to hitting down the line hasn’t been ruled out, but he’ll focus on his mound work for the time being.
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