'Confused and disappointed': Brewers' Garrett Mitchell trying his best to deal with latest injury

NEW YORK – Garrett Mitchell is still trying to wrap his head around how it happened.

Doing nothing more than taking batting practice last weekend as spring training was wrapping up, the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder felt pain in his left hand after taking a swing.

"I just hit the ball off the end of the bat," Mitchell recounted. "Like, a routine ground ball. My hand swelled up a little bit and it was hurting.

"But I definitely didn't think it was what it was, I'll tell you that."

What it was, was a fractured left index finger. He was fitted with a brace, placed on the 10-day injured list and now must watch from the sidelines while the fingers heals, which is expected to be a period of six to eight weeks.

Mitchell traveled with the Brewers from Arizona to New York and was on hand for the Brewers' 3-1 season-opening victory over the Mets at Citi Field on Friday.

But it's been difficult for him not to continue thinking about the fluke nature of the injury.

"Definitely confused. Confused and disappointed," Mitchell said of his reaction when he was informed the finger was broken. "It's one of those things where I don't know what I could have done to change what happened. That kind of stings a little bit, is there's not really anything I can look at and be like, 'How could I have avoided that?'

"I couldn't."

Garrett Mitchell is frustrated after suffering his latest injury, but he's trying to remain positive.
Garrett Mitchell is frustrated after suffering his latest injury, but he's trying to remain positive.

Garrett Mitchell lost most of 2023 with a shoulder injury

Injuries are part of the game, obviously. But one can understand Mitchell's frustration considering the long road he traveled in 2023.

He got off to a dynamite start, registering his first two-homer game in a win over the Mets at American Family Field last April 4 and then slugging his first walk-off homer to down the Mets the next day before seeing everything come to a screeching halt a couple weeks later in Seattle when he suffered a shoulder subluxation diving back into third base.

That, too, was believed to be a more minor injury at first. But the diagnosis turned grim not long thereafter and surgery followed, with Mitchell becoming a prisoner of rehab in Maryvale for most of the rest of the season.

He did return at the tail end of the season, collecting a hit in a three-game stint.

Mitchell was hitting .319 with a homer and eight runs batted in over 14 Cactus League games and ticketed for regular playing time in center field, but now a platoon of Sal Frelick and Blake Perkins will man the spot.

"It was a great camp. I ended on a really good note, with an eight-game hitting streak. It felt like I was just in a very steady flow the whole time, you know?" Mitchell said. "So, it's definitely hard knowing the work you put in and where you're at and knowing you've prepared the right way – it just kind of felt like a smack in the face.

"But I think being disappointed is part of it. I still wake up in the morning frustrated or I wake up and I'm like, 'Crap, what am I supposed to do?'"

Brewers manager Pat Murphy says Mitchell will be 'back in, making an impact for us' before long

Manager Pat Murphy, asked about Mitchell's tough luck, had an interesting take.

"I mean, don't feel too sorry for him," he said. "I mean, it's unfortunate. But people are dealt all sorts of cards like this. So, keep it in perspective. He's a wealthy man who's sustained some injuries, and he'll bounce back and have his opportunity.

"He's in a good spot. It's not a season-ending injury. He'll sit out for a month and a half or two and he'll be back in, making an impact for us."

Mitchell is able to remain active. The brace allows him to throw and he can still run, which helps ease the sting somewhat. So, too, does the knowledge that there is a finite amount of time he'll miss as opposed to the multiple months he was sidelined in 2023 as Murphy noted.

"It's a while, but it's not a full year," Mitchell said. "There's going to be a lot of games still to play. So, my goal is just to get through this as best I can and as fast as I can and get back out there and help the team."

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Brewers' Garrett Mitchell frustrated by latest injury, a broken finger