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Corey Ray Faces Pivotal 2020 Season



You don’t have to tell Corey Ray that 2020 is a big year for him.

The 25-year-old center fielder took a major step in the wrong direction last year and can’t afford another without losing his place in line in the organization. Almost all of it was caused by an injury, but that really doesn’t matter for a talented player who takes immense pride in what he does.

"It’s in there; I’m capable,” Ray said. "I’ve just got to stay healthy. If I stay on the field, I think good things will happen.”

Unfortunately for Ray, he was unable to stay on the field in 2019, playing in 69 games, 53 of them at Triple-A San Antonio, where he hit .188/.261/.329 with seven home runs.

It wasn’t what the wiry lefthanded hitter—or the Brewers—expected for the 2018 player of the year in the Double-A Southern League. But near the end of big league camp in 2019, he dislocated the middle finger on his right hand sliding into second base and didn’t tell the training staff of the severity of the injury.

Unable to grip the bat properly, Ray spent two weeks on the injured list early in the season, then returned to the IL for nearly two months when he returned too soon. By then, the die was cast on a poor season, and Ray had learned a valuable lesson.

"(I learned) when I do say something and I am going through treatment, take my time and make sure it’s completely healed before I come back,” he said. "Because I think coming back too early, you re-aggravate it, and it makes the recovery process longer."

The Brewers expected big things from Ray when they drafted him fifth overall in 2016 out of Louisville. He worked hard over the winter to get ready for spring camp and a second chance to get it done at Triple-A.

"Look, it’s a big year for Corey, without question,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He’s worked really hard this offseason on foundational stuff for him, offensively. But none if it can happen without health."

MICROBREWS

— Outfielder Tyrone Taylor, who made his big league debut as a September callup in 2019, was expected to miss most if not all of spring camp after having surgery on his left wrist in early November. The 26-year-old had a reconstruction of his ECU tendon sheath, an issue dating to an injury in 2017

— Righthander Taylor Williams, who spent most of 2019 at Triple-A San Antonio (2.83 ERA in 46 relief appearances), was designated for assignment to open a 40-man roster spot when the Brewers signed utility infielder Brock Holt. The Mariners subsequently claimed Williams on waivers.

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