Injuries and poor play had prevented Kirk Nieuwenhuis from appearing in more than 91 games -- which came back in his rookie season -- prior to 2016, but he was able to stay relatively healthy for most of the season and appear in a career-high 125 games in his first year in Milwaukee. The results at the plate, however, were not much better as he continued to be virtually an automatic out against southpaws to the tune of a .135 average against lefties. While he was a bit better against right-handed pitching with 12 home runs and a .732 OPS, he still hit just .218 and struck out 116 times in 298 at-bats against righties. The 29-year-old provided solid defense and a decent OBP though, earning him a one-year deal over the offseason to stay with the Brewers. He could get some at-bats in a platoon role, but Nieuwenhuis will more likely occupy a reserve role to open up the season.
Nieuwenhuis was outrighted to Triple-A Colorado Springs on Monday. Nieuwenhuis cleared waivers after being DFA'd by the Brewers last week, and it appears he's accepted his assignment to Triple-A. He joins an outfield stacked with top prospects Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell and Brett Phillips. It's unclear what Nieuwenhuis' role with the Brewers will be moving forward, seeing as there doesn't appear to be a clear path to playing time in Milwaukee's outfield anytime soon.
Nieuwenhuis was designated for assignment Friday. Nieuwenhuis has been relatively ineffective to begin the season, going 2-for-25 with one home run and 15 strikeouts in limited playing time. The future is unclear for the 29-year-old outfielder, but he could be destined for a return to the minors should he clear initial waivers. Left-hander Brent Suter takes his spot on the roster.
Nieuwenhuis went 1-for-2 with a double, two walks and a run scored in Thursday's victory over the Cardinals. Nieuwenhuis made a spot start in center field Thursday and made the most of the opportunity, reaching base three times. He has started just five games this season, but if Keon Broxton continues to struggle with the bat, he could find himself in the lineup a bit more often.
Nieuwenhuis took over in center field Thursday after Keon Broxton (nose) was hit by a pitch, going 1-for-3 with a solo home run in a 2-1 loss to the Rockies. Broxton looks like he'll avoid a DL stint but is considered day-to-day with a small nasal fracture, so Nieuwenhius could see additional playing time this weekend while the Brewers host the Cubs. With lefty Brett Anderson taking the mound Friday, though, don't be surprised if Hernan Perez gets the nod in center instead should Broxton still be unavailable.
Nieuwenhuis is set to open the regular season as the Brewers' fourth outfielder, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Nieuwenhuis entered camp as the favorite for the fourth outfield spot on the Brewers' roster, and he's locked up the job by posting a 1.138 OPS through 15 contests this spring. A speedy lefty-swinger, he hit .209 in 2016 and finished with just a .460 OPS away from home, but Niewenhuis also had some of the best home splits in the league, posting a .290/.397/.556 (.953 OPS) slash line in 199 plate appearances over 64 games at Miller Park.