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Brewers open season without All-Star closer Devin Williams because of stress fractures in his back

Devin Williams
Devin Williams

PHOENIX — The Milwaukee Brewers will open the season without All-Star closer Devin Williams, who could miss at least three months because of two stress fractures in his back.

Williams pitched through back soreness at the end of last season, and sought a second opinion after feeling discomfort this spring. After an initial MRI in Arizona, he was examined in California by Dr. Robert Watkins, a leading spine specialist.

Williams told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a story posted online that there was a difference in the initial diagnosis and what Watkins saw.

After the MRI by the team, new Brewers manager Pat Murphy indicated there was no reason for concern, telling reporters, “Felt like he could move forward with it and just treat it. … Give him some time off.”

In his response to the Journal Sentinel, Williams said that was not a mischaracterization by Murphy.

The 29-year-old right-hander was 8-3 with a 1.53 ERA and 36 saves in 40 chances last season when the Brewers were NL Central Division champions. Over his past two All-Star seasons, Williams had 183 strikeouts in 119 1/3 innings. He is 26-10 with a 1.89 ERA and 54 saves over 219 career appearances since his debut late in 2019. He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2020.

Milwaukee and the pitcher avoided going to salary arbitration after settling on a one-year, $7.25 million contract in November. The deal also includes a club option for 2025 that could make the deal that worth $18.5 million for two seasons plus award bonuses.