Former MVP Josh Donaldson back in majors after Brewers call him up

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Former AL MVP Josh Donaldson is back in the big leagues attempting to help the Milwaukee Brewers in their push toward an NL Central title.

The Brewers announced Monday they had recalled the veteran third baseman from Triple-A Nashville while optioning infielder Owen Miller. Donaldson was in the starting lineup and batting fifth for the NL Central leaders' Monday night game with the Miami Marlins.

Milwaukee had signed Donaldson to a minor league contract on Aug. 31, two days after the New York Yankees released him.

“I had a few teams calling in and checking in to see what the situation might be,” Donaldson said before the game. “I felt like this was probably going to be the best opportunity from a team aspect and also for myself to be able to get a chance to play as well.”

Donaldson won the MVP with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015 and is a three-time All-Star, but his play has tailed off dramatically. He has hit .207 with 25 homers and 77 RBIs over 165 games in two seasons since the Yankees acquired him along with infielder/outfielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa and catcher Ben Rortvedt in a March 2022 deal that set catcher Gary Sánchez and infielder Gio Urshela to the Minnesota Twins.

Donaldson hit .142 with a .225 on-base percentage and .434 slugging percentage in 33 games with the Yankees this season, though his .076 batting average on balls in play suggests bad luck has played a role in his struggles. Ten of Donaldson’s 15 hits were homers.

“I felt like the numbers for my season really didn't probably justify what I was doing,” Donaldson said. “I feel like I was driving the ball really well this year. I had some strikeouts early on, but I was cutting down on those as well and getting some walks. I really was hitting some balls at some guys as well.”

Monday marks the first time Donaldson has appeared in a major league game since July 15. Donaldson went on the injured list July 16 with a strained right calf and was moved to the 60-day injured list four days later.

After signing with the Brewers, Donaldson batted .177 with a .364 on-base percentage, .529 slugging percentage, two homers and three RBIs in five games with Nashville.

“I felt pretty healthy for the last three or four weeks that I was on the IL, but I was on the 60-day so I couldn’t come off it at the time,” Donaldson said. “So I've been able to work and train and have been kind of going full speed for a while now. Obviously it’s shaking a little rust off from a game perspective. I feel pretty good about where I’m at right now.”

The Brewers’ regular third baseman for much of the season has been rookie Andruw Monasterio, who is hitting .267 with a .341 on-base percentage, three homers and 23 RBIs in 74 games. Monasterio has come on strong since the Donaldson signing and is hitting .333 with a .378 on-base percentage and .455 slugging percentage in September.

“Andruw's had a good season,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He's had a good season in totality. You're still going to see Andruw at third base. There's going to be some Andruw at third base, for sure. This just in our eyes gives us another option and kind of like, let's see what happens here.”