November 2010

Brewers Thanksgiving Basket Delivery

Yesterday, I participated in the Brewers Community Foundation’s Annual Thanksgiving Basket Delivery.  The BCF along with its partners, 1290 WMCS-AM, the Milwaukee County Sheriff, Feeding America and Hunger Task Force presented 500 full Thanksgiving meals for those in need.  The recipients of the meals were selected by WMCS-AM through letters and e-mails submitted to the station.

After a short press conference at Miller Park, we loaded up some boxes and headed over to the Guest House just north of Marquette University’s campus.  The Guest House is a homeless shelter for men that gives more to men than a roof over their head, but also works to find jobs, health care, education and other social services for its guests. 

We delivered over 15 full Thanksgiving meals to the Guest House that included everything you need for the traditional Thanksgiving meal–dressing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, cake mix, canned yams, corn, green beans, fruit, and, of course, a turkey.  Cecelia Gore, Executive Director of the Brewers Community Foundation presented the Guest House with a $10,000 contribution.  It was a great gesture in a time of giving.

Special thanks go out to Brewers television play-by-play announcer Brian Anderson and former Brewers great Larry Hisle for their assistance yesterday.  You could see the excitement in the eyes of the recipients at the Guest House yesterday when they saw the former All-Star slugger (who is now an All-Star in the community).  Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and numerous representatives from 1290 WMCS-AM were also on hand for yesterday’s delivery.

The remaining meals will be distributed today and tomorrow by WMCS-AM.

Click this link to see some of the video highlights from yesterday.

 

From the Brewers family to your family, have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!

– JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

 

The Myth of the Offseason, Continued

Now that we’re well into November and John is back from his trip to Arizona, I thought I’d revisit the  “There is No Offseason For…” series that I started last year about this time.

 

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In case you’re new to the blog or you’ve forgotten, this series stems from what John and I called “The Myth of the Offseason” in our very first post last November. (It is hard to believe this blog is almost one year old!)

 

Links to last year’s stories can be found here:

Gary Vanden Berg, Director of Grounds

Aleta Mercer, Vice President Broadcasting & Entertainment

Billy Friess, Director of Season Ticket Sales

Miller Park Tours

Brewers Enterprises

 

And now, loyal readers, my next installment is in your hands!

 

Whose “offseason” do you want me to write about next?

Chris Barlow, Director-Group Sales

Cecelia Gore, Executive Director, Brewers Community Foundation

Jeff Harding, Senior Graphic Designer

Diny Hurwitz, Data Analyst

Karl Mueller, Director of Video Scouting and Baseball Research 

Other (Got someone else in mind? Let me know!)

 

Vote by posting your comments below. I’ll feature the member of the front office with the most votes in my next story later this month!

 

-CAIT

johnandcait@brewers.com

 

 

Happy Veterans Day!

flag.jpgToday is Veterans Day and on behalf of the entire Brewers organization, I would like to say thank you to all the servicemen and women who have made sacrifices for our freedom.  The efforts of the brave men and women of our Armed Froces will always be remembered and they will forever be heroes in my eyes.

People like my two grandfathers, Henry Nierman and Jack Steinmiller; friends Jerry Cohen, Dan Wycklendt, David Begel, David Hickey, R.J. Smith, Jon Crozier, James Fee, Chad Runge, Sean Hurley and James Wamser; and even people I work with like Brewers team photographer Scott Paulus all have made sacrifices by serving our country.

I’m fortunate enough to work for the Brewers and work with heroes on the baseball field, but the true heroes are those names listed above and the countless others who have sacrificed much more.  Thank you again to all who have served our country and have a wonderful Veterans Day!

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

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Maryvale Baseball Park – It’s Just Not For Spring Training Anymore

Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix is the Spring Training home of the Brewers.  Most fans know the Major League and Minor League players travel there to work out and prepare for the upcoming season, but don’t know about what–if anything–goes on there before and after Spring Training.  Over the past couple of years, Maryvale has transformed into a year-round facility where players from all levels come to train, condition and rehab from injuries.

From February through March, players are there for Spring Training.  April through May, some participate in extended Spring Training.  June through August, players participate in the Arizona Rookie League.  September and October is instructional league.  While all the while, players are in and out for rehab assignments and training.

November through January might seem like the only period that the future stars of the organization have some time to relax, however, Maryvale is still buzzing during that time with players participating in the Winter Development Program.

“We really are working on creating that complete player,” said Reid Nichols, Brewers Special Assistant to the General Manager and Director of Player Development/Training Center.  “This program is really about setting a foundation for the rest of their careers.  It is just a way to give them a good base, get them stronger, faster and smarter.”

Cone Drill Uphill Work.jpgThe Cone Drill on “The Hill” at the Maryvale Baseball Complex.  Uphill, both ways!

Currently in its fifth year, the Brewers Winter Development Program is aimed at having players prepare for the upcoming season in a structured environment.  It is open to any player in the Brewers development system and some players receive a scholarship to participate.  It is mostly made up of younger players from the Brewers system and is open to all who want to participate.  Anywhere from 35 – 55 players participate.

The program is broken up into three sessions.  The first two sessions are two weeks long and focus mostly on conditioning.  With the players just coming off a long professional season, this part of the program was developed to give players a bit of a mental break following the season.

“This is still intense training,” Nichols said.  “But it isn’t the baseball mental grind they are used to during the season.  We try and take baseball out of the equation and focus on the conditioning to give players that break.  We still try and do everything with a little bit of competition to keep the intensity up.”

A typical day during the first session of camp includes general conditioning workouts, speed training, vision training and lifting.  Players also travel in vans to the local Lifetime Fitness Center where they participate in weekly spin, pilates, yoga and water aerobics classes.

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Players participate in a yoga class as a part of the Winter Development Program.

“It is nice to switch things up a little bit and get them off the complex,” said Tony Diggs, Assistant Director – Player Development/Training Center who organizes the schedule of the program.  “Those classes give them a pretty good core routine.  It is good for them to see the different ways they can condition their bodies.”

Ultimate Frisbee is a group favorite during the winter program and bowling nights are also a part of the schedule.

“We light to keep the atmosphere light, while at the same time, make sure they are getting their work in,” said Diggs.  “We also like to emphasize camaraderie and teamwork among the players as they will all be coming up together in the organization and building a future together.  The bowling tournament can get pretty competitive!”

Nichols added that the camaraderie between players is one thing, but it also helps with staff.

“It is good to get to know the players on a personal note and for them to get to know us,” Nichols said.  “We want to have that relationship with the players and vice versa because it is important to develop that bond of trust with the players.”

As a part of the program, players also work on off the field life skills that come along with being a professional baseball player.  The team participates in community service activities and has worked with the Boys and Girls Clubs, Children’s Hospital, Phoenix-area food banks and, most recently, the Special Olympics. 

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Sean Halton (right) at a recent Special Olympics event of which that the Brewers Winter Development Program participated.

“These players need to be prepared for this type of thing as they will be doing community service and giving back at every professional level,” Diggs said.

Players even traveled to a fine-dining restaurant in the Phoenix-area and took etiquette lessons from restaurant staff.

“We really don’t want to take things for granted, especially with some of the younger guys,” Nichols said.  “A lot of these guys will being going to many nice dinners throughout their careers with agents and other business people.  It just comes back to our goal of creating a complete player.”

In the past, sessions on financial planning, English classes (for Spanish-speaking players) and Spanish classes (for English-speaking players) have been offered to players.

Currently, they are in between the first and second sessions, with the second session beginning on November 28.  Following the Holiday season and with the start of the third session, Diggs notices the numbers grow in the workouts.

“We being to focus more on baseball in the third session,” Diggs said.  “This will take them right into Spring Training.  The conditioning that they learned in the first two sessions is continued with the third session, but the focus now turns to baseball and more traditional baseball-related drills.”

Brewers outfielder Corey Hart, pitcher Mitch Stetter and, while a member of the Brewers, shortstop J.J. Hardy all have been regular participants in the third phase of the program.  All three are residents of the Phoenix-area and use the program to prepare for Spring Training.  Current Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain is a graduate of the full Winter Development Program.

The Winter Development Program is a part of the organization’s overall goal of making Maryvale Baseball Park a place where the younger players in the organization can go to build a foundation for their future and the future of the Brewers.

“We tell our players that we are open for business here at Maryvale anytime,” said Nichols.  “We want our players to utilize what we have to offer them because it will make them better players.”

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

 

Hunter Morris Adjusts To Position Change in AFL

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About a year ago at this time, Hunter Morris was going through fall conditioning at Auburn University preparing for his junior season.  Fast forward to today and the infielder enters today hitting .286 (14-for-49) in the Arizona Fall League with one home run and 10 RBI.

 
“It’s been busy year,” Morris said. “It seems like I have been all over.  We (Auburn) had a pretty good year.  It was a nice way to leave Auburn.”

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Morris plays third base during a recent Arizona Fall League game.

Auburn did have a very successful 2010 season, reaching the NCAA Regional and finishing with a 43-21 record and a SEC West Division Championship.  Morris gathered a number of personal accolades including SEC Player of the Year and First Team All-America.  He established an Auburn single-season record with 23 home runs in 2010 and hit .386 with 76 RBI.

Selected by the Brewers in the fourth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft with the 129th overall pick, Morris wanted to get right in the fold with the organization and quickly signed.

 “I signed right away which was what I was hoping for,” Morris said.  “I was fortunate to go to Wisconsin and start in the Midwest league.  I made it there for about half of the season that is still a long season there.”

After signing, Morris played 71 games with the Timber Rattlers of the Class-A Midwest League.  He hit .251 with nine home runs and 44 RBI.  Morris now finds himself playing for the Surprise Rafters in the AFL as a late addition, replacing Brett Lawrie.

“To go straight from that (Wisconsin) with a couple of days off right into instructional league and then the Fall League here, that’s a lot!” Morris said.  “Add that with changing positions and trying to make the transition from first base to third base, it has been a long year, but it’s been well worth it.  I am very happy about everything and I feel like I’m making a good transition to professional baseball.”

Near the end of Wisconsin’s season, Brewers Roving Infield Instructor Garth Iorg talked to Morris about possibly switching positions from first base to third base in hopes of getting him more playing time and becoming a more versatile player.

“It was a much easier transition than I thought it would be,” Morris said.  “There is always work to be done and always room to improve and I want to continue to get better, but to me, it didn’t feel like it was the first time I had played third base since high school.  It went a lot smoother than I thought.  To be honest, I am more comfortable at third base than first base.  It will be great to have both (first base and third base) as options moving forward and will only help me out.  I have about four gloves in my locker just in case!”

Morris is one of only six players selected in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft to be participating in the AFL.  He joins OF Bryce Harper (1st overall, Washington), INF Zack Cox (25th overall, St. Louis), RHP Chance Ruffin (48th overall, Detroit), LHP Sammy Solis (51st overall, Washington) and RHP Jordan Swagerty (75th overall, St. Louis).  Morris’ numbers prove that he fits with the caliber of players in the AFL.

“It is a good experience for him,” said Surprise Rafters manager Mike Guerrero.  “He has shown a lot of ability and he has shown that he belongs here.  We have given him a bit of a challenge in switching his position from first base to learning to play third but he has shown the ability to make the switch work.  He has a lot of promise, a good swing and great bat speed–very fundamentally sound at the plate.  Probably the best thing is that he has shown unbelievable work ethic and is definitely taking advantage of this opportunity.” 

Morris is humbled by the opportunity to play in the AFL this early in his professional career, but also sees it as a tool to improve.

“I’m very blessed to have made it to this point,” Morris said.  “Being here in the Fall League is a huge step in my professional career.  There are guys who have been in the game four, five six years who have never had this opportunity.  To come here and play and step right in and for the Brewers to give me that confidence to play at this level this early in my career is an honor.”

A native of Huntsville, Ala., there is a possibility that Morris would play for Guerrero and his hometown team, the Huntsville Stars this season.

“I want to make sure that I keep my body in shape and where it needs to be coming back to Spring Training,” Morris said.  “There are times during the offseason you can let yourself go, and I need to make sure that I don’t put myself in that position.  Coming from the SEC, a strong baseball conference and being a college guy, there is always that chance I can move fast through the organization.  It is my job to come out and perform and be ready for the 2011 season at home in Huntsville or wherever they see the best fit for me.”

Notes: I’m back in Milwaukee after my week in Arizona and I will continue to post a couple of stories the rest of the week.  Please keep your questions coming in for Brewers Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Melvin for a Q&A with him later this week……If you want to follow today’s Surprise Rafters game, follow this link…..I would also like to say “you’re welcome” to everyone in Milwaukee for bringing some of the mild fall weather and sunshine home with me from Phoenix.  We will see how long it lasts!…..I don’t know if any readers follow any of the official Brewers twitter feeds (@Brewercom, @Bernie_Brewer, @BrewersHistory, @BrewersCF), but last Friday, Brewers RHP John Axford officially joined Twitter.  You can follow him as well: @JohnAxford59.

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

 

Jeffress Wows the Crowd At AFL Rising Stars Game

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The fifth annual Arizona Fall League Rising Stars was played last night at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Ariz.  The Brewers had three representatives in the game.  OF Caleb Gindl, who started in left field and batted second and RHP Jeremy Jeffress will pitch out of the bullpen for the West squad.  Mike Guerrero, who is managing the Surprise Rafters and is the manager of Double-A Huntsville, managed the West team.

After the West tied the game at 2-2 in the third, neither team scored until a walk off home run by Leslie Anderson.

The home run dazzled the crowd, but it was Jeffress who drew what were perhaps the loudest cheers of the night.  The crowd rose to its feet and cheered his final pitch of the inning to strike out Brandon Laird that read 101 mph on the stadium scoreboard.  Earlier in the at bat, the scoreboard read 99 and “00” for 100.

asgjeffress.jpgJeffress pitches during last night’s AFL Rising Stars game in Surprise, Ariz.

“I don’t know if I had ever received an ovation like that,” said Jeffress. “The home run was a bigger deal than me hitting 100 tonight.  That won us the game which is the most important thing.  I was just trying to get the outs, hit my spots and I really let it go.  I guess it’s the All-Star game and everyone is watching, so why not?”

Jeffress pitched one inning, struck out two, walked one and allowed one hit.  Gindl finished the night 0-for-4.

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Gindl at bat in last night’s AFL Rising Stars Game in Surprise, Ariz.

A showcase game that features the top talent here in Arizona, 4,749 fans and scouts from every Major League team were in attendance.  The game was broadcast on the MLB Network and on mlb.com.

Guerrero was excited for the opportunity to manage the West team.

“It is exciting to be here with all these future stars,” said Guerrero.  “This is such a special league and to be a part of this game is an honor.  It was nice to see Jeremy show everyone what he has.  He has a bright future in the Brewers organization.”

Gindl is currently hitting .298 (14-for-47) with two home runs and six RBI in 13 games.  He also has four doubles and one triple in Fall League play.  Jeffress has allowed only one earned run in 9.1 innings pitched in Fall League play this year.  His 0.96 ERA ranks fourth among pitchers in the AFL.  Today was a scheduled off day for the AFL.

The teams were selected by scouting and minor-league directors from every Major League organization, in consultation with Fall League Director Steve Cobb and his staff.  Twenty-eight of the 50 players who appeared in last year’s Rising Stars Game played in the Major Leagues in 2010.

I’m currently at Sky Harbor International Airport about to board my flight back to Milwaukee.  I’m trying to soak in the last couple minutes of sunshine before returning to Milwaukee and the beginning of winter.  I have a couple of stories I will continue to post throughout the week regarding the Arizona Fall League.  Also, please continue to send us your questions for Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin regarding the Brewers Minor League system.  I can’t wait until I return to Phoenix for Spring Training!
 

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

 

 

 

Schafer Looks To Regain Health After Frustrating 2010 Season

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The other day, I wrote about Brewers RHP Brandon Kintzler’s “dream season.”  While there are plenty of those stories here at the Arizona Fall League of players finally making their dreams come true, there are also some stories of frustration and broken dreams.  Such is the case with Brewers outfield prospect Logan Schafer.

The lefty missed nearly the entire 2010 season with a slew of injuries, one just seemed to pile on to another.  In fact, he played his only seven games of the season with a broken foot.

“I had the most frustrating year of my life this year,” Schafer said. “It was definitely tough on me physically and also mentally.  Physical pain is something everyone can go through, but the mental pain is really tough.  There were times during the year when I asked myself if I would ever be completely healthy again.”

Schafer started with a groin injury that sidelined him for much of Spring Training.  In extended Spring Training in Arizona, he fouled a ball off his right foot, but still reported to Brevard County and played seven games on what turned out to be a fractured foot.  At that same time, he found out his groin problem turned out to be a hernia that would require surgery.

“It was tough especially since I had three different injuries and they occurred at different times,” Schafer said.  “They just kind of piled on to each other.  I had a couple of times where I thought I would get on the field and, boom, something else happened.” 

For the rest of the summer following his June surgery and right into the Fall League, Schafer reported to Maryvale Baseball Park to rehab with Brewers Minor League physical therapist Kenny Patterson and Brewers Minor League strength and conditioning coordinator Jeff Mester.

“When I came to terms of missing a year,” Schafer said.  “I redirected my focus to getting healthy for the Fall League and then winter ball and hopefully being ready to go for next Spring Training.  I want to be ready to prove I am worth of making it to the Big Leagues next year.”

Schafer was coming off a stellar 2009 season where he was named the Brewers Minor League player of the year.  That season, he won the Florida State League batting title with a .313 batting average.  That earned him an invite to Major League Spring Training in 2010, however, the groin injury was suffered just days prior to reporting to Major League camp.

Although Schafer has played in only three games (he is also in today’s starting lineup, playing in centerfield) during the fall, he is trying to work himself back into game shape after months of rehab.

“Being able to get back to playing actual games and get healthy is unbelievable,” Schafer said.  “I felt like I was coming to the field everyday (for rehab) and something was missing.  Coming out here and seeing this talent is something that I can take different things away from everyday.  It is a lot of fun being here in the clubhouse and dugout with them.  It is great to be on the field again.”

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Schafer and Guerrero talk at third base during a recent Arizona Fall League game.

Entering today’s game, Schafer is hitting .500 (6-for-12) with one RBI.  Huntsville Stars and Surprise Rafters manager Mike Guerrero said the key for him at this point is getting healthy and getting some at bats against the solid pitching in the Arizona Fall Leauge.

“For Logan, we are looking to get him back in a routine and back on a track that he was on,” said Guerrero.  “When he is completely healthy, we know what he can do.  Our prime thing is to get him at bats and when his opportunity comes, we want him to make the best of that opportunity.  He is a talented guy and has great ability.  It is too bad that he missed so much of the season because of his injuries, but I think he is on the way back and is going to have another great year next season.”

Schafer, a California-native, said that he has been in Arizona for nearly the entire year.  He spent two weeks with Brevard County and two weeks home in Los Gatos, Calif. following his surgery.  He mentioned the possibility of playing winter ball to continue his recovery and ensure he reports to camp in tip top shape.

“Hopefully I find out about winter ball in the next week or two,” Schafer said.  “If I don’t end up going, I don’t think it would be a bad thing to get back to 100% healthy and continue to get my legs stronger.  I’m still a little sore, but it is nice to play, I wish I could play a little more to get back into it, but I’m enjoying my time and feel like I’m getting healthier and healthier every day.”

A 2008 third round selection by the Brewers in the First-Year Player Draft, Schafer had early success in his professional career and is not going to let the frustrations of 2010 hinder his development.

 “I’m going to just do my best to work at getting to where I need to be and I feel like that is in the Big Leagues sometime in 2011,” Schafer said.  “Everything I do and all the work I put in is all for the goal of getting there and winning games.  I really want to get and stay healthy and prove that I can do what I can do.  I feel that as long as I stay healthy and get there, people will know what kind of player I am and that I’m able to compete on that level.”

Welcome New Manager Ron Roenicke!

I hope everyone has been enjoying John’s posts from the Arizona Fall League. I certainly know that I have! By the looks of things, John hasn’t just been basking in the warm Arizona sun- he’s been hard at work producing some really good stories.

Back home in Milwaukee, we’ve been busy, too and today was a particularly exciting day…

 
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It figures that John would leave for one week and, as he mentioned in a post from earlier today, end up missing the press conference where we announced Ron Roenicke as our new manager this afternoon.

Typically, John would be very involved in an event like this because, as Media Relations Manager, he interacts with the media on a daily basis. I know he’s sorry he couldn’t be here and I also know that he’s looking forward to working with Roenicke next season.

So how does a move like this impact the Consumer Marketing department? Well, for one thing, we wanted to make sure that we properly welcomed Ron to Milwaukee, so as soon as we heard the news, Jeff Harding, our Graphic Designer, got busy creating artwork for the Clear Channel Outdoor boards:

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Thanks to our partners at CCO, we were able to get this up and running simultaneously with the start of the press conference. We hope you saw them up around town!

Like most of the front office staff, I personally attended the conference. I had no idea what to expect, but I came away from it very impressed by our new skipper and I also have a renewed excitement for the upcoming season- it will be here before you know it!

Brewers beatwriter Adam McCalvy has a couple of good stories about Ron up on his blog already, so I’m going to direct you over there to learn more about our new manager and, in particular, his running philosophy.

On behalf of John and Cait…Plus 9, I just want to echo what our outdoor message–and everyone else– is saying: Welcome to Milwaukee, Ron Roenicke! We’re excited to have you on board!

 

-CAIT

johnandcait@brewers.com

Thursday Wrap Up

Score: Scorpions 9, Rafters 5
Weather: Sunny, 92 degrees
Tomorrow: Mesa at Surprise, 2:35 p.m. CT
Brewers In the Box Score: RHP Brandon Kintzler pitched two perfect innings and struck out four…..Hunter Morris, who played first base today, went 1-for-5.
On the Other Team: Scorpions 2B Charlie Culberson went 3-for-4 with three RBI, Culberson is in the San Francisco Giants organization.
Arizona Fall League Brewers History Note: The following six players were the original six Brewers prospects in the first Arizona Fall League in 1992: LHP Brian Dodson; OF Kenny Felder; INF John Finn; LHP Tom McGraw; RHP Scott Taylor, and RHP Robert Wishnevski.  None of those players made it to the big leagues as a Brewer.  The 1993 group was a little more successful as it included INF Jeff Cirillo and C Mike Matheny.
Fall Fodder: I saw on the marquee sign for Scottsdale Stadium that stadium officials wasted no time in congratulating their Spring Training tenant, the San Francisco Giants, on winning the 2010 World Series…..A reminder to fans to tune in to Saturday’s “Rising Stars Game” on MLB Network at 8 p.m. CT, if you want to see the future of Major League Baseball, this is it, scouts compare the game to the “MLB All-Star Futures Game” during the MLB All-Star festivities in July, except these players are even closer to the Big Leagues…..Tomorrow, I plan on visiting Tony Diggs, Assistant Director – Player Development/Training Center in Maryvale in the morning before Surprise’s game and checking in on the Winter Development Program…..Please e-mail me with any questions you have for Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin regarding any of the players I have written about this week or anything in the Brewers farm system, I will be interviewing him next week as a wrap-up and will take questions from fans as well.

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

 

Making Up For Lost Time: Eric Farris Looks to Return to Nashville in 2011

I know it was quite the busy day in Milwaukee today with the official announcement of the hiring of manager Ron Roenicke.  I’m sorry to have missed the press conference at home, but from what I hear, everything went well and I’m excited to work with the new manager.  Congratulations to Roenicke on his first Major League managerial job and to Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin on the hire. 

The show continues here in Arizona today where the Surprise Rafters are again taking on the Scottsdale Scorpions at Scottsdale Stadium under sunny skies and a temperature of 85 degrees.

I talked to second baseman Eric Farris prior to today’s Rafters game.  Farris had a solid Spring Training this past year and made the jump from finishing the 2009 season with Class-A Brevard County to starting the 2010 season with Triple-A Nashville.

“The season started out very promising for me,” said Farris–the Sounds Opening Day second baseman.  “It was great to be in Nashville and I was playing well.”

Then, after only 21 games into the season, a home plate collision left him with an injured right knee.  Farris would miss three months of the season.  He is healthy now and making up for lost time this fall in Arizona.

“I’m very happy to be here,” Farris said.  “I really need to get some at bats.  For me, this is still a part of my season.  I’m really not treating this like a fall league; I’m making up for lost time.  I’m just working on playing and getting back what I lost this year.  I’m healthy and I feel good and now it is just trying to stay that way.  Everything is good to go.”

He ended up playing a total of 60 games with Nashville in 2010 and hit .274 (63-for-230) with two home runs and 15 RBI.  He made 56 starts at second base for the Sounds.

Farris is playing on a regular basis here (“regular basis” in the Fall League means every other game, Farris has played in 11 of Surprise’s 20 games heading into today) and is hitting .380 (19-for-50) which is good for seventh in the AFL.

“It’s been a pretty good experience so far for me,” Farris said.  “Being able to play here healthy and work on things is great.  I really like the group of guys I am playing with, we all get along real well.  We are winning, I happy with my performance and what I have been learning, which makes it a lot of fun as well.”

Farris played under Surprise manager Mike Guerrero in Brevard County in 2009, so there is a comfort level between the two.

“Eric had a frustrating regular season,” Guerrero said.  “For him to make that jump was great and then to have that injury was a blow to the work he put in to move up in the organization.  Luckily he is here, healthy and performing.”

Guerrero’s presence in the clubhouse has helped Farris adapt to the Fall League.

 “Mike makes things comfortable for me,” Farris said.  “I played for him a couple of seasons ago.  He knows me and I know him which is great.  He really pushes us to make the most out of this experience here.  It has been a good thing having him here for me and the other Brewers guys on the team.” 

Putting a focus on getting stronger is something Farris will work on following the Fall League.  At 5-10 and 170 pounds, Farris’ speed is a plus tool.  He has five stolen bases this fall (tied for 6th in the AFL) and in his four seasons in the Brewers organizations has tallied 138 stolen bases.  This year in Nashville, he had 14 stolen bases in 16 attempts.

“As soon as this is done, I would really like to get stronger and work putting on a few pounds,” Farris said.  “My speed is important to me, but at the same time, I just want to stay healthy and get myself strong for the whole season.  I want to get in spring training healthy and get into the season healthy.”

Farris was the Brewers 4th round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Loyola Marymount (Calif.).  For Brewers fans who don’t know much him, Farris describes himself as a hard worker, but one who likes to have fun.  

“I take the game as serious as anyone, but I like to have fun while doing it because in the end, it is a game,” Farris said.  “I don’t want to take it for granted what I’m doing right now.  I’m very fortunate to be here, I want to win and I want to contribute to the organization.”

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

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