Brandon Woodruff’s COVID-19 Journey and Unwavering Support from His Wife – Revealing the Personal Side of His Injury-Plagued Career
Brandon Woodruff recently made headlines after being non-tendered by his previous team, the Milwaukee Brewers. Given that the right-hander becomes eligible for free agency at the conclusion of the next season, it comes as no surprise that the Brewers opted to release him instead of engaging in the arbitration process. However, he hasn’t been faring well this season, owing to a right shoulder injury. Due to the recovery period of his shoulder surgery following the injury, Woodruff will miss the entire 2024 season. Meanwhile, Woodruff’s off-the-field endeavors warrant attention.
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The 2021 Cy Young nominee has pitched at an elite level throughout his career, except when injuries hurt him. With an empty year left ahead, he has enough time to think over his physical regime and spend time with his family like he did back during the pandemic. It is only natural to closely examine a player with an exceptional skill set and a history of intricate performances on the field.
Brandon Woodruff: A star from Mississippi State
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Brandon Kyle Woodruff hails from a small town in Mississippi named Wheeler. Born in 1993 to Belinda and Richard Woodruff, he always had a passion for baseball, but he limited his dreams to the national level. In his words, “Being a kid from small-town Mississippi, just getting to go play at Mississippi State was a huge deal”. Reaching the major leagues was just beyond the limits of his dreams back then. However, his father, Richard, never really believed in the limitations of his son’s dreams. Richard proved his pride for his son when he sent Brandon the photo of the town entrance sign that says ‘HOME OF BRANDON WOODRUFF’—a little token from the townspeople for their favorite in-house slugger.
In 90 innings over 34 appearances (18 starts) in college at Mississippi State, Brandon Woodruff went 3-6 with a 4.60 ERA and did not allow a home run.
MSU went 130-68 with Woodruff on the team from 2012-14, reaching the Finals of the 2013 CWS.
He did not pitch in Omaha. pic.twitter.com/oQLMMI5zmC
— Rob Anderson (@_robanderson) October 2, 2020
Woodruff had an eventful career before debuting in the MLB in 2017. The Texas Rangers selected him during his high school days; however, he turned them down to pursue further studies at Mississippi State University. He played in the college baseball league in the following years. During his junior years, Woodruff scored 6.75 ERA across 37 innings. He got into the minor leagues in 2014, following his Brewers’ minor league drafting. While playing in the minors, he bagged a 2.68 ERA in 2016.
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The following year, the Brewers promoted him to the major leagues in June. But an accidental warm-up injury benched him until August in his debut season; Woodruff finally made his dream debut that month, scoring 32 strikeouts across 43 innings pitched. Now that the slugger has gotten some well-deserved time to blow some steam off of his tumultuous career, one might wonder what exactly is waiting for him back at home.
A dedicated player: How Woodruff defeated the pandemic with help from his wife
Brandon Woodruff has a beautiful home in Tupelo, Mississippi. He lives there with his wife, Jonie, and daughter, Kyler Alise Woodruff. Jonie, a nurse by profession, has been exceptionally supportive of Brandon throughout their 15-year relationship. However, she has been instrumental in keeping Brandon’s form intact during his pandemic break.
In 2019, Woodruff had 143 strikeouts adorning his name—one of his best SO records in a season. He went into 2020 with the mentality of a winner, until all hell broke loose following the announcement of a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. He returned home empty-handed, with a restless mind and a training schedule made for him by the Brewers’ crew, after the season suspension.
Amidst the pandemic depression and unavailability of a baseball stadium or proper training equipment, Jonie helped Brandon keep his form intact; she engaged him in rigorous pitching workouts, acting as a designated training catcher for Brandon when both of them needed a moment of respite. Their practices went on until he moved to a nearby high school for further training. He came back to the game the next year, but an illness hindered him within a few seasons.
A victim of injuries: A timeline of Brandon Woodruff’s struggles with fitness
Brandon Woodruff has been suffering from injuries since his debut in 2017. He missed a month’s worth of playoffs following an injury he got during warm-ups. A strain in his left oblique forced him to miss six weeks of the playoffs in 2019. In season 21-22, Woodruff suffered from an arterial disease named Raynaud’s syndrome. He had just recovered from a sprain on the right ankle and had been on the injured list for weeks before that. Imagine one of the best pitchers in the MLB being brought down by a condition that causes a decrease in blood flow to the fingers. It sounds like hell, doesn’t it?
Brandon did not notice the onset of it until he spent two days playing in the inter-league. In his words, “First day, came back and played catch from the ankle. I just noticed my fingers were turning white, and I thought that was weird. Then the following day it was worse, and I couldn’t feel the ball. So, that’s when I went in.” He recovered within a matter of weeks and got back into the game.
Everything was well and good until the first half of 2023, when Woodruff injured his shoulder in April, missing almost the entire season and playing in just 11 games. Lately, Brewers non-tendered their right-handed pitcher this Friday. So, for now, things might seem uncertain for the slugger, but he seems to have a certain plan in mind.
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Currently a free agent, but what’s next for him?
Woodruff became a free agent this season. Although the slugger doesn’t know how to proceed with his profession post-rehab, he is hopeful to get back in the league in 2025. He intends to discuss his possible Brewers’ future, owing to his loyalty to the team. Woodruff revealed in a Foul Territory interview, “I was drafted and developed by this team.” He reminisced, “I was drafted by them in 2014. I have been so lucky to be with one organization and basically one coaching staff my whole career, and that doesn’t happen too often.”. He still believes that he fits best with the Brewers and their city, Milwaukee, and he hopes to be a part of the team for a long time.
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Clubs like the Texas Rangers might take an interest in Woodruff given their prior effort in drafting him, but nothing is sure as of now. All that the Brewers fanbase can hope for right now is to see their favorite pitcher come back to the game in perfect form. Here’s to looking forward to a long and steady recovery for the fans’ favorite ‘Woody’.
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