Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Brandon Woodruff will be looking for his first win of the season Wednesday when he gets the start in a series finale against the host Pittsburgh Pirates.
But that won’t be the only thing on his mind. Woodruff, like so many ballplayers, has concerns about health, safety and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been accentuated in baseball due to an outbreak of the virus among members of the Miami Marlins.
Woodruff took some time to talk about it Tuesday.
“We’ve never dealt with anything like this, so we don’t really know how to react to some of the stuff,” said Woodruff, who has a pregnant wife at home. “You want baseball to be on the forefront of your mind, and I think when the guys are out there playing, it is, but there’s just a thought in the back of your mind that, hey, we’ve got to do everything we can to keep people safe.”
On the baseball side of things, Woodruff will be trying to help Milwaukee win the three-game series. After losing two of three against the Chicago Cubs, the Brewers took the opener against Pittsburgh 6-5 in 11 innings on Monday before falling 8-6 on Tuesday.
The Pirates, too, will go for their first series win of the year. They blew a four-run lead in the ninth inning Monday before rebounding to erase a four-run, seventh-inning deficit Tuesday.
“I think that’s the one thing our fans are going to learn about this group — they don’t give up,” Pirates rookie manager Derek Shelton said.
The turnaround from Monday to Tuesday and scratching out a win after losing three of the first four games was not the result of Shelton gathering his players and reading them the riot act, or even something more hushed.
“Having team meetings is not my style,” Shelton said. “I think usually when managers are having team meetings, they’re more for the manager.”
Woodruff (0-1, 3.60 ERA) will face Pittsburgh right-hander Joe Musgrove (0-1, 4.76). Both pitchers started and lost on Opening Day.
Woodruff gave up two runs and four hits in five innings, with five strikeouts and a walk, in a 3-0 loss against the Cubs in Chicago. He is 2-1 with a 5.02 ERA in seven career games, five of them starts, against the Pirates.
Musgrove allowed three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings in Pittsburgh’s 5-4 opening loss at St. Louis.
Perhaps understandably after the long delay to the start of the season, Musgrove said he struggled a little with his timing, but he came away feeling as if it only cost him twice in that game.
“The two pitches that I left right over the heart of the plate were the two they did damage on,” Musgrove said of a hanging curveball to Tyler O’Neill and a fastball to Dexter Fowler that were both launched for homers.
“But other than that, I felt I executed pretty well, especially when we needed a big pitch.”
Stamina didn’t seem to be a problem, as Musgrove threw 99 pitches.
Musgrove is 0-1 with a 6.46 ERA in four career starts against Milwaukee.
–Field Level Media