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 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.
Nieuwenhuis (abdomen) is fully recovered from surgery and expects to be a full go when camp opens, Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Nieuwenhuis underwent nerve release surgery following the 2016 season. He slashed .209/.324/.385 in 392 plate appearances over 125 games in 2016, and is expected to make the Brewers' opening day roster, though it's unlikely he would earn a starting role in a crowded Brewers' outfield.
Nieuwenhuis underwent nerve release surgery following the 2016 season, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Nerve release surgery is an alternative to sports hernia surgery with a faster recovery time. The 29-year-old amassed 392 plate appearances across 125 games last season, though he batted just .209. His solid defense and veteran presence were enough to convince the Brewers to tender him a contract for 2017, however. He appears to be on track for the start of spring training, though the team has not officially provided a timetable for his return.
Nieuwenhuis agreed to a one-year split contract with the Brewers on Friday, avoiding arbitration, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. The 29-year-old batted a lowly .209 last season, but his outstanding 14.3 percent walk rate and solid .176 ISO combined with his good defense all over the outfield made a good case for the Brewers to tender him a contract for another season. The split deal would have him making considerably less money if he gets sent back to the minors if Milwaukee chooses to kick the wheels on their younger options in the outfield, but Nieuwenhuis' versatility could work in his favor for the time being as he works to land a bench role out of spring training.
Nieuwenhuis (abdomen) had an MRI on Monday and the results looked good, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports. Nieuwenhuis is scheduled to see a doctor again Tuesday to examine his injury, but this is a great sign for the outfielder. He reportedly is dying to get back into action prior to the season's end, so there's a good chance that he'll reenter the fold as soon as he can. That being said, with most minor league teams done with their seasons, it'll be a bit tougher to get game-ready over the next week or so, making a timetable for his return fairly cloudy.