Results tagged ‘ Chris Capuano ’

Taking a Page Out of Pitching Coach Derek Johnson’s Book

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that I recently finished reading Brewers TV announcer and former player Bill Schroeder’s new book, “If These Walls Could Talk.” It is a fun, light read that will make you laugh out loud.

The second book on Cait’s Summer Reading List was also written by a member of the Brewers staff; however, it is on the opposite end of the baseball book spectrum.
That’s because new Brewers Pitching Coach Derek Johnson has quite literally written the book on pitching.

Published in 2013, Johnson wrote “The Complete Guide to Pitching,” while serving as associate head coach and pitching coach at Vanderbilt. The book is divided into three parts: the science of pitching, the art of pitching and total body conditioning.  The book is aimed at kids as young as 8 up through college and is at times, heavily technical; Johnson talks mechanics, pitch selection, fielding, and mental strategies.

Brewers Pitching Coach Derek Johnson also lists "author" on his resume.

Brewers Pitching Coach Derek Johnson also lists “author” on his resume.

While I’m not really the intended audience for the book, I still wanted to read it before sitting down with our new coach for an interview. I was surprised to come away with not only a new perspective on a very complex part of the game, but also some great insight into Johnson’s frame of mind as a coach.

After reading the book, I had so much I wanted to talk with him about that our interview lasted almost an hour. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed picking his brain!


Johnson, 44, was born in Illinois and graduated from Eastern Illinois University, where he was a lefty pitcher, earning All Mid-Continent Conference honors; majored in P.E. and minored in English; and would later get his first job as a coach.

“I always liked to write and I liked literature; I like to read,” Johnson said, of his choice to minor in English. Johnson said that he has also always wanted to write a book, but it wasn’t until an opportunity came knocking that he had the chance. But we’ll get to that.

Johnson has always had a strong passion for the game. He grew up in a small town called Arrowsmith, Illinois. His grandfather had a farm and Johnson spent a lot of time there.

“It was football in the fall, basketball in the winter, baseball in the spring. I spent a lot of time by myself, too, and I kind of gravitated toward something I could do on my own. I threw a lot of balls up against the stoop, I threw a lot of balls up against the barn, I threw a lot of fly balls off pitches of roofs. I read a lot about it. I knew all sorts of stats when I was little. So growing up, that pretty quickly became my favorite.”

Like many little boys, Johnson dreamed of making it to the Major Leagues and, even though he had success in college, he decided to go the coaching route instead.

“I likely would have been a one or two year minor league player; I would have been released. Then I would have had to start my career. As it turns out, I started my career out right away. I was coaching the year after I was done playing. Looking back, it probably worked out for the best that way because I started coaching right away.”

Right out of college, Johnson coached for his college team, where he found himself in a similar position to Craig Counsell when Counsell stepped into his role as manager last season—he was now coaching some of his former teammates.

“The trick of that was to be able to separate yourself because most of the guys on the team were your friends. So you’re walking a fine line. Even the first three or four years, you’re not that much older than the players. So, you had to really do a good job of separating yourself,” Johnson said.

From there, he coached at Southern Illinois University (1995-97) and Stetson University (1998-2001) before making a home at Vanderbilt for 11 years, serving as associate head coach in addition to pitching coach over his final three seasons at the school.

At Vanderbilt, Johnson received many accolades—he was named college baseball’s National Pitching Coach of the Year (2004) and National Assistant Coach of the Year (2010)—and helped lead the team to its first-ever College World Series appearance in 2011, guiding a staff that featured eight pitchers who were selected in the First-Year Player Draft.

To date, as a college coach, Johnson has guided the collegiate careers of 11 pitchers who have played in the Major Leagues, including David Price and Sonny Gray. Although Price and Gray are very different pitchers, Johnson says that his coaching style stays constant.

“You root yourself in fundamentals and fundamentals don’t necessarily change across the board,” Johnson explained. “Your personality doesn’t change. Some of the things that you say are the same. Some of the ways that you go about it are different. That’s really the trick of coaching…to try to push the right button and try to figure out what makes this guy work compared to this guy. Every situation is different and every guy is different, so we have a lot of layers that we’re dealing with all the time.”

Johnson graduated to pro ball in 2013 when he took the position of Minor League Pitching Coordinator with the Chicago Cubs. In that role, Johnson was responsible for all of the minor league pitching in the Cubs organization—from their academy in Venezuela to their Triple-A team in Des Moines, Iowa.

“That was obviously a new experience for me. I was a college coach for a long time and was used to having 15 or 16 pitchers. Now I have a 100. I couldn’t be with those 100 every day. I had to develop relationships with guys on the run. So again, just in terms of my education about how people work and how this pro game works and what my role, what my function was, I was learning a lot of things on the fly. It was a lot of fun. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to do it,” he said.

And in 2016, after college ball and spending some time in the minors, here Johnson is, pitching coach for the Brewers, fulfilling a dream he had as a kid.

“It took me 45 years to make it to the Big Leagues,” Johnson said with a smile.


Every new position has its learning curve and pitching coach is no different.

For Johnson, he’s working at a different level of the game, getting to know each individual on his pitching staff, and shifting back into game mode after traveling extensively in his role as Minor League Pitching Coordinator.

“Probably the biggest (difference between college and the Major Leagues) is that these guys are already kind of made in some ways. In college they’re very impressionable. You can almost do whatever you want. They’re that ball of clay, so to speak. In college you kind of have to teach them every aspect of the game. Here they know a lot, about all the parts of the game, so you don’t have to teach them as much. It’s more nuance, so your eye has to be even keener on some of the smaller details. At this point, too, it’s taking what they do really well and trying to make that great. In college you’re taking what’s okay and making it good. It’s further refinement in terms of what you’re trying to accomplish,” Johnson said.

Coming into this new role, just as Johnson had to work on developing relationships with all the pitchers in the Cubs Minor League system during his time with that organization, Johnson has also had to get to know all of the Brewers pitchers in a fairly short period of time. Over his career, he had run into a few of them in college or the minor leagues, but he had never worked with any of them directly.

And, after spending a couple of months with them, Johnson says, he’s still building those relationships.

“I know these players but I don’t know everything about them. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to get in the heat of the moment. We haven’t gone through every scenario yet. The season is—it’ s almost cliché to say—that it’s young, but at the same time, my relationship with them and my understanding of them…I’m still trying to get there. And it takes a while. I can even remember at Vanderbilt. The best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores and part of that is just because you’ve had a year to get to really know them. You know what makes them tick, you see what they’re like in the heat of battle, you see what they’re like in adversity, you see how they recover from something bad happening to them. We’re still kind of in the early stages of that. It’s easy to know someone as a person, like I’ve known them for 7-8 weeks, so I kind of know what they’re like, but I don’t know them and that takes awhile,” Johnson said.

As Johnson mentioned, at this level, it’s more about refinement. As part of the getting-to-know-you process, Johnson says he had conversations with all of his pitchers after first taking the position and then, once Spring Training rolled around, it was more about seeing what he had to work with—not necessarily making any major overhauls at this point.

“You’re not making any sort of wholesale changes with these guys, especially in Spring Training. You’re just kind of watching—what do they do, what’s their routine like, how do they work— and just try to figure out from there where we’re going,” Johnson said. “It’s been fun so far. I mean a real education, no question.”

Pitching Coach Derek Johnson works with Chris Capuano in Spring Training. Photo: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers

Pitching Coach Derek Johnson works with Chris Capuano in Spring Training.
Photo: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers

And it’s an on-going education. With the team in rebuilding mode and the roster also in flux due to injuries, it’s only been a little over a month into the season and already Johnson has seen 19 pitchers make an appearance on the active roster.


On game day, you’ll find Johnson at the ballpark well in advance of the game watching video from the previous day, to try to confirm scouting reports or help make any sort of adjustments. He’ll also talk about that day’s game plan and make his notes on that.

“I’ve been doing a lot of quality pitch stuff with our starters, so it’s going back and determining how many quality pitches we’re throwing. That’s preparing us for whatever side work we have that day,” Johnson said.

Then it’s a matter of preparing the side work, going through it with the pitchers, and then it’s game time.

On a daily basis, Johnson works with both the starters and the relievers.

“Obviously the bulk of my time is with the starters, but I try to get out and watch the relievers play catch and kind of talk through different things that I saw the night before, or we have a pre-series meeting for scouting, so of course I’m there and (Bullpen Coach) Lee (Tunnell) leads that, but I chime in as much as possible.”

Johnson said his relationship with the relievers is one that he works hard at maintaining.

“I’ve heard where some coaches really don’t do that, it’s mostly hang with their starters and let the bullpen guy take care of the bullpen pitchers. I’m not sure that would work for me personally just relationship-wise. I want to get to know those guys and I want them to know we’re here to help if needed,” he said.

So what does a pitching coach do during the game?

Johnson said he’s not calling the game from the dugout. That’s on the pitcher and catcher. Actually…

“Truly, it’s on the pitcher. It’s a suggestion. The catcher is giving a suggestion and the pitcher is nodding his head yes or no and that’s the way it should be. We have places to grow there, chances to grow there as a staff as this year moves on,” he says.

Johnson says what he’s most focused on is looking ahead to match-ups for the bullpen.

“A lot of it is trying to figure out matches for our bullpen, as it goes. Sometimes it feels like you have to have a crystal ball because you have to look 5-6 hitters in advance for that. And then it’s trying to put out little brushfires during the game. Maybe what we could do from at-bat to at-bat. I’m really fortunate. I’ve got two older catchers who take a lot of pride in the way they call the game and what they know. I’ve got a lot of younger pitchers out there who have to execute. It’s a premium thing and they’re learning how to do that. I can focus on maybe making small adjustments from at bat to at bat but then you think ahead to who we’re going to pitch if this happens or if that happens…. There are a lot of layers,” he said.

And what’s really going on when he does make a visit to the mound?

Derek Johnson visits the mound in Spring Training. Contrary to what movies like ‘Bull Durham’ would have you believe, these guys are not discussing what to get Jimmy for his wedding present. PHOTO: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers

Derek Johnson visits the mound in Spring Training. Contrary to what movies like ‘Bull Durham’ would have you believe, these guys are not discussing what to get Jimmy for his wedding present.
PHOTO: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers

“Usually my thought on a mound visit is you’re looking for an out or you’re looking to slow the guy down; those are really the two reasons and they can both work together,” Johnson explained.

“He needs to slow down and you need an out. Again this is where getting to know guys and understanding their personality in the heat of the moment, or getting to know what his language is, so for me, that’s a really tricky one and it’s going to be different with every pitcher out there. I like to talk about what’s going to happen and kind of paint a picture of what’s going to happen with the next guy. Sometimes it’s just about saying ‘Hey I’m just out here to give you a break, that’s it. You’re doing fine. This hitter is… this is what we’ve done with him,’ maybe here’s a suggestion or two… in some cases, it’s going out and saying ‘Hey we definitely can pitch around this guy, this is what we have going on,’ so there’s some strategy things, too.  Really the trick is, it’s sort of the contact and the human element of it. I want to see where his eyes are at. I want to see his mannerisms to say ‘hey this guy’s vibrating right now; we need to maybe think about getting him out,’” he continued.


Johnson stresses the importance of routine for a pitcher and we discussed what one might do between starts.

“Every guy’s a little bit different and they shape their routine differently, but typically, the day after (a start) is a pretty heavy recovery or starting the recovery process. The next day, a lot of our guys won’t throw. Some of them will throw, but just very, very lightly. I give them a choice, however they want to do that. So much at this level is kind of working off what makes them feel right. The key element of the whole thing is within four days they need to recover as best they can. As the season goes, that gets harder, so it changes and tweaks as the season goes, but typically that’s going to be his kind of day. The second day (after the start) is going to be a side day. He’ll throw 30-45 pitches depending on what they need and what we’re working on. One of the things we’ve tried really hard to do is evaluate the last game and pull things from it to be able to work on in the bullpen.”

Johnson doesn’t believe in doing the same thing in the bullpen every time. He likes to focus on what worked well and what can be improved.

Pitching Coach Derek Johnson works with Jimmy Nelson in the bullpen between starts.

Pitching Coach Derek Johnson works with Jimmy Nelson in the bullpen between starts.

He says that the next couple of days, there will be one or two strength sessions, with the day before the starter pitches being a lighter day.

“I have them work on some pick-off stuff on flat ground. Some guys choose to do a flat ground and then day five is pitch. So you’re getting a couple of strength sessions in, lots of arm care, the throwing varies from guy to guy and then any sort of skill work, drill work type stuff that we want to employ,” Johnson said.

Speaking of drills, it was obvious beginning in Spring Training that Johnson is a big proponent on working on fundamentals, an approach that should serve him well with a younger team.

“I think small things change everything. I think it’s easy to leave out details because there are so many of them. This game is great because it’s intricate. It’s great because there are so many nuances and ways to approach it, but I believe in the end that small things can change everything,” Johnson stated. “Really at this point in these guys’ careers, they’re obviously really pretty fine-tuned and they kind of are what they are in a lot of ways, too, so making wholesale changes, big adjustments, that’s not going to happen. But you can effect change through something small. It’s like the Butterfly Effect….That’s a big thing as a coach to do, to effect change positively and not negatively. So my feeling is you’ve got to keep it fun, you’ve got to keep it light, but you also have to take care of the detail parts of the game.”


Although I’ve seen Johnson’s unique and thorough approach to the game in action for just a short period of time, hearing him talk it’s easy to see why he was sought out to write his book by the publisher, Human Kinetics.

Johnson said originally, they thought the book could be done in a year, but instead, it took five.

“It took five because I wanted to do it right. It took five because I revised it a lot,” Johnson said.

He says that for the most part, writing the book came easy because he had a lot of the material already; however, the most difficult part was trying to appeal to such a wide audience of 8-year-olds to college players.

“Baseball is very incremental in a lot of different ways, so what you’re giving to an 8-year-old for them to understand is completely different compared to how you’re coaching a college kid. So to write that book is really hard….I had to cut a lot out.  So, it’s a good book, but it wasn’t exactly the book I would’ve wanted to write. I would’ve left the 8-year-old out, to be honest. I would’ve wanted to be more technical, but still I’m very proud of it,” he said.

While the technical/mechanical side of pitching also didn’t apply to me directly, I did find a lot of the foundational and mental components of Johnson’s book to be fascinating.

I think that this passage in particular tells you a lot about what Johnson brings to the Brewers: “I believe that to be successful, a pitcher must first possess and exhibit four essential traits: (1) a work ethic that will not take ‘no’ for an answer; (2) the ability to prepare at a championship level every day; (3) accountability for himself and his career; and (4) a sense of humility for himself and the game. In turn, these traits create a mind-set, a mentality. The pitcher must have the mind-set of a champion—the mind-set of a warrior.”

At one point in the book, Johnson describes a hypothetical situation that he would give his college pitchers at the beginning of a new season, designed to help them keep the game as small and as manageable as possible:

“I first ask the pitchers how long it takes to deliver a pitch from start to finish….They usually respond by guessing 2 or 3 seconds per pitch, depending on the outcome. Next, I ask them how many pitches a starter would normally throw in a game to which they reply, ‘Approximately 100.’ I then stress that if each pitch and outcome takes approximately 2 or 3 seconds and the pitcher throws 100 pitchers, then the pitcher must be ready to focus intently and stay present for approximately 200 to 300 seconds, or 3.3 to 5 minutes per game. I point out that is this very obtainable! I finish by explaining that the pitcher can spend the rest of the time using positive self-talk, practicing white noise (nothingness), or planning for the next inning while sitting in the dugout.”

Fascinated by this (Hey! That’s pretty smart. I could even apply that approach to my golf game!), I asked him more about it. Johnson explained his thought process:

“You have to focus, you have to concentrate, you have to bear down. I’ve heard coaches say, ‘Three hours, that’s all it takes’ and I got to thinking about that one time and you know, it’s really not true. It’s not three hours. When you break it down to the small parts of the game, and say ‘I need to be totally immersed for five minutes,’ I think that helps pitchers manage it. If you’re ever tried to concentrate for three hours…that’s not easy. I don’t know many that can, so anyway, that’s where that came from,” he said.

Johnson also stresses the importance of catchers in his book and talked about how fortunate the Brewers are to have two great catchers in Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado helping the young pitching staff along.

“They both work really hard. They do their homework. They understand scouting. They’re looking at video of opposing hitters and trying to come up with a game plan of what we’re going to do. The toughest part about a game plan—number one is executing it and number two is to take the individual who is going to pitch that night and customizing it to him. So it’s really knowing our pitchers very well, what they can and what they can’t do on any given day. Unfortunately, you have guys who have A and B and C games and sometimes that C game is tough. You’re kind of wobbling through it. But our guys do a good job with doing their homework on the opposing hitters and trying to figure out things that we’re going to do against them. Then there’s the in-game part of it, too. You’re evaluating from at-bat to at-bat, you’re evaluating from pitch to pitch, because some of these guys will sit on pitches. Some guess. There’s always a little bit of cat and mouse going, but I think our guys are well-equipped. They work hard at the scouting part of it. I feel like our younger players are in very capable hands,” he said.

Goal-setting is something else that Johnson talks about in his book, and that’s something he has emphasized now at the Major League level as well. (You’ll also recall new Brewers Bench Coach Pat Murphy also spoke about the importance of goals in his interview, too.)

“I talk about ‘double vision’ in the book and that’s having your eye on today and your eye on the future. That’s to me a really important part because these guys are trying to stay in the game as long as possible. So you do have to take care of today, but you have to understand the broader picture and the future part of it, too,” Johnson said.

Johnson also discusses the concepts of team unity vs. team chemistry in his book and he believes that the dynamic of our team has been pretty good so far.

“Chemistry happens in my mind as a result of a process, as a result of things that happen along the way that bond, or don’t. But unity can happen just in terms of it all pulling in the same direction. We talked about that in Spring Training. There are going to be some rough patches, but I think we’ve had some older guys who have really stepped up, both on the pitching staff and on the position side and I think it’s held the boat together. I mean, we’ll see, because chemistry is a process of things that happen over time, but I think right now we’re unified enough and we’re trying to stay on the same page. I’ve had really good looks at that and it’s good,” Johnson said.


While his staff has had its share of pitching struggles so far in this young season, Johnson has acknowledged this publicly and believes better days are ahead.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself. I want to do right by these guys and try to help them perform as best they can. I feel as responsible for his as they do. That’s just the way I am…. I want to believe there will be better days ahead…. I’m not the one throwing the pitches, but at the same time, I’m the one responsible for it or partly responsible. I’d like for it to be going better. It sure would help me out a lot. But that’s what I’m here for,” Johnson told Journal Sentinel beat writer Tom Haudricourt in a recent interview.

With a young team and a lot of new faces, it can be difficult to build the team chemistry, but Johnson and the rest of the coaching staff have clearly brought this team together in a short amount of time. Now, it’s a matter of further fine-tuning those skills of the pitching staff through a focus on routine and fundamentals.







Fun Times Had at the “Koos for Kids” Event at Hitters Baseball Academy

Tonight, following the Brewers-Padres game, many Brewers players and coaches headed over to the Hitters Baseball Academy in Racine to take part in a special event benefiting bullpen catcher and Racine native Marcus Hanel’s charity–and raised over $55,000 in the process.

Marcus has always had a desire to help children and so, about 12 years ago, he formed “Koos for Kids,” a charity focusing on helping terminally ill and disadvantaged children in the area.

Fans attending tonight’s event received dinner, autographs from Brewers players, entertainment from the Jesse White Tumblers, and the opportunity to participate in auctions and raffles. Of course proceeds from the event went to the Koos for Kids organization, where they are used to give back to the community. 

Over the years, Koos for Kids has been able to help numerous terminally ill children by purchasing them laptops, iPads, zoo passes, airline tickets, animals…whatever it might be that makes their days a little brighter.

Hanel was also excited to announce that Koos for Kids is offering a scholarship program: “ We’ll be giving $2500 each for college to two kids of need in Racine. They will get an opportunity to advance and go to school. It’s a pretty cool thing so we’re excited to implement that.”

Here are some photos from tonight’s event:

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Koos for Kids has also purchased over 3000 winter coats for disadvantaged children in the local area, as well as organized and run the Challenger Baseball League, where over 60 children with special needs can come and be part of a team and learn the game of baseball.  And there are countless other ways they have helped the local community, thanks to the support of many businesses and caring individuals.

To learn more about Koos for Kids, keep informed of upcoming events and find out how you can help, click here.





The Milwaukee Brewers announced the donation of over 20,000 plastic bat & ball sets to every student, grades K-5 through the 2nd Grade, in the Milwaukee Public School system. The announcement was made earlier today at a press conference at the Brown Street Academy by Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger. Members of the team’s front office including Manager of Youth Outreach Larry Hisle, Superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools Dr. Darienne Driver, Brown Street Academy staff, local officials, Chevrolet (sponsor) representatives as well as players Chris Capuano, Chris Carter and Alex Presley were on hand for the announcement and ensuing mini-clinics.

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Each child will receive a brand new “Play Ball” bat and ball set, delivered to each Milwaukee Public Elementary School, courtesy of the Brewers and Chevrolet. In addition, the team announced that 125 schools all over the city will receive a set of baseball-related books. The effort is part of “Play Ball Weekend,” a Major League Baseball initiative, which is taking place today through Sunday.

Major League Baseball and USA Baseball launched “Play Ball” as the sport’s largest effort to encourage widespread participation in both formal and informal baseball activities.  The goal of the program is to give kids the opportunity to enjoy the game in a fun environment by highlighting the many ways baseball can be played and introduce kids to the sport who otherwise may not have the chance to experience it. Additionally, the program offers a healthy and active lifestyle option where many of those opportunities are offered less frequently.

“The goal of this program is to get kids engaged with the game by giving them the tools to play and the resources to learn about the sport,” said Schlesinger. “It doesn’t take nine kids to play the game, and it doesn’t require expensive or elaborate equipment. Major League Baseball and the Milwaukee Brewers are committed to connecting with area children through the ‘Play Ball’ program, and we look forward to what we know will be a fun and successful long-term initiative.”

Following the press conference, the players engaged with the children and put on a mini-clinic. The players demonstrated basic skills and taught useful lessons about the game.

In addition to today’s press conference, the team will continue to celebrate “Play Ball Weekend” with an on-field ceremony prior to tomorrow’s contest against the San Diego Padres. Nine players from the local Milwaukee RBI program will join Brewers players as they go to their respective positions on the field. The players will then present the kids with one of their very own Brewers caps.

5/14/16 Update: Play Ball Weekend continued today at Miller Park as Brewers players sported Play Ball t-shirts during batting practice, the Play Ball logo was painted in the grass, there’s a special patch on the jersey and the special pregame ceremony took place. Here are some more photos from this evening:

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For more information about Play Ball Weekend, the RBI Program or the Brewers involvement in the community, please visit

Brewers Pitchers Bonding Through Golf

Although there are many new faces this spring, this Brewers clubhouse already seems to have a great vibe. There is a lot of positive energy and the players seem to be bonding with ease. Perhaps that’s because the players are finding common interests both on and off the field and building chemistry in new ways.

For example, in addition to the game of chess, many Brewers players seem to be bonding over the game of golf this season.

I recently had another chance to hit the links with some of them this spring at the scenic Lookout Mountain Golf Club.My foursome included Brewers pitchers Chris Capuano, Will Smith and Matt Garza, while the group playing behind us was also comprised of all pitchers: Tyler Thornburg, Michael Blazek, Jeremy Jeffress and Sean Nolin.

While I’ve played with a couple of these guys before, I was surprised that this many players chose to spend their downtime out on the links.

I started chatting with Michael Blazek about it and he explained why he believes it’s such a popular pastime for the players—especially pitchers— away from the field.


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“It’s not really about the game of golf. You just go and hang out with friends…. It’s a better way for us to get together away from the field and not think about baseball and have fun at the same time. It just takes your mind off of what you’re doing here every single day. There’s not many things that we can do as a group away from the field….so golf is the easiest thing to do for us and it’s just a good way for us– especially our pitchers, a lot of us golf–and [the course] is just a place for us to kind of get together,” Blazek said.

Thornburg agrees. “A lot of hitters hate golf because they think it will ruin their swing. Plus, position players have to go every day during Spring Training for the most part and when they get a day off they don’t want to spend four hours on a course.”

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Capuano is the probably the best golfer in the clubhouse this spring. He says he has about a 4 handicap, and has shot par a couple of time, with his best round being a 67 at the Boulders in Scottsdale. Although, he’s quite modest and is quick to point out that the course was a par 71.

“I feel like he should definitely be better than a 4 handicap,” Thornburg tells me. I concur. While Thornburg shot a respectable 83, Capuano shot a 37 on the front 9 at Lookout Mountain and kept it rolling on the back, although he didn’t get to play all 18 holes.

For Capuano, who started playing golf as a young child while caddying for his dad, he says his favorite part of the game is being outside.

“It’s relaxing,” he says. “Being a pitcher, I really enjoy the satisfaction of hitting a target and I think golf is very similar in the rhythm and timing that’s involved in the golf swing. It’s similar to the throw, and just hitting that target is very rewarding.”

For me personally, I would agree that golf provides a good bonding opportunity. While I enjoy the sport and grew up playing it, outings like these not only provide fun social media content, but they also help me get to know the players better away from the field, which helps when working with them closely over the course of a long season.

And whether it’s fishing or golf, or another hobby, it is good to see the guys get a chance to relax and unwind now because we know once the regular season is underway, there will be little (if any) time for those things.

I hope the Brew Crew is enjoying the first of just two off days this spring!

3/16/16 Update:
Looks like some of the #CactusCrew did indeed hit the links yesterday:

Hiram Burgos, Jorge Lopez and Yadiel Rivera hit the links on the first offday of the Spring.

Hiram Burgos, Jorge Lopez and Yadiel Rivera hit the links on the first offday of the Spring.



Cait’s Summer Reading List: Reviewing Haudricourt’s “100 Things Brewers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die”

I recently finished reading a new book about the Milwaukee Brewers entitled, “100 Things Brewers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.” The book was written by Tom Haudricourt of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, with a foreword by Jim Gantner.

100 Things Brewers Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die

Haudricourt, who has covered the Milwaukee Brewers and baseball for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (and Milwaukee Sentinel) since 1985, has witnessed many of these items firsthand. This is his third book about the team (he is also the author of Brewers Essential and Where Have You Gone ’82 Brewers?) and “100 Things Brewers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” covers everything from Brewers Baseball arriving in Milwaukee (1970) through recent triumphs such as the 2011 NLCS appearance.

Mixed in among seminal and paramount moments in Brewers history are funny and bizarre items, along with things that true Brewers fans find essential to the game experience, like the Famous Racing Sausages, Bernie Brewer, tailgating and more. [John is even mentioned in a sidebar within the book, how cool is that?!]

With an average of 2.5 pages dedicated to each “thing,” the book is a quick and easy read. And, although I very much like Haudricourt’s style of sports reporting, this book is a welcome departure from that objective point of view.  Instead, each item reads like its own little vignette, complete with quotes—either directly from the person or people mentioned within it, or from another source, such as a newspaper or interview at that time.

In his introduction, Haudricourt notes, “The Brewers…do not have 100 years, or even half that, of history,” which is true, with the Club in just its 44th season–but that does not mean it does not have 100 (or more) items that merited inclusion in this book. And, although I am in my eleventh season with the Club (wow, I’ve been here for one-quarter of its existence!) and I was born and raised in Milwaukee as a Brewers fan, there are still many of these key moments of Brewers history that occurred before I was born (i.e. the 1982 World Series) or when I was too young to remember (1987 Team Streak).

And then I think about all of the Brewers fans who are younger than me, or those who have moved to Milwaukee in the last few years and this is really a book that needed to be written.

Whether you’re a die-hard fan from the days of Harvey Kuenn and Paul Molitor or a new supporter of Ron Roenicke and Ryan Braun, this book contains everything Brewers fans should know, see and do in their lifetime.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if you want to call yourself a True Blue Brew Crew fan, you should have to read this book and be tested on the contents, the most important facts about the team, traditions and what being a Brewers fan is all about. Players should be provided with a copy when they sign their contracts. What’s that saying? In order to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been? In only 44 seasons, we have a rich history and I’m confident that in the direction we’re headed, it’s only going to get richer.

I don’t want to give too much of the book away, but I can tell you that I crunched some numbers to get my personal “stats”:

  • Of the 100 Things Brewers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, there are 14 “Things To Do” and I’ve done them all.
  • Of the 100 Things Brewers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, there are 86 “Things to Know” and, of course, after reading the book, I now know them all, but:
    • Of the 86 “Things to Know,” I was alive for 71 of them.
    • Of those 71, I remember being aware of 46 of them at the time (i.e. some happened when I was too young or wasn’t following as closely).
    • Of those 46, 29 of them happened since I started working here (2003).
    • From there, I tried to make a list of the ones for which I was actually physically present, but it got difficult to do, so I’ll just call out a few of the more specific things mentioned that I’m proud to say I witnessed in person:
      • April 27, 2004: Chad Moeller’s Cycle
      • April 28, 2004: Brewers huge comeback win against Cincinnati Reds
      • May 16, 2004: Ben Sheets’ 18 strikeouts vs. Atlanta Braves
      • September 28, 2008: Brewers Clinch the Wild Card
      • September 23, 2011: Brewers Clinch NL Central Title

I’ve also included a photo gallery of some of the “Things” included in the book, but you’ll have to read it then come back to place which ones I’m referencing!

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The book is currently available for sale in the Brewers Team Store by Majestic and at other booksellers.

Once you’re done, I’d be curious to know what you think. Did Tom leave anything out? Let me know in the comments field below.

Finally, I’ve got a copy to give away to one lucky blog reader who is the first person to email me ( with the correct answer to the following trivia question:

What team did Doug Melvin swing a massive nine-player deal with on December 1, 2003, which six players did we acquire from that trade AND what was the common name Brewers fans used to reference those collective players at the time?

UPDATE: We have a winner! Congrats to Michael from Iowa who knew that this was a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks in which the Brewers received: Wisconisn native Craig Counsell, second baseman Junior Spivey, first baseman Lyle Overbay, catcher Chad Moeller, and lefthanders Jorge De La Rosa, and Chris Capuano, players collectively known as the “Six-Pack”. [Note: I would have also accepted “Brewerbacks”!]

Happy reading!


Brewers Bowl-a-Thon a Rolling Success

On Sunday night, many of the Milwaukee Brewers players celebrated their sweep over the Houston Astros by bowling in the Brewers Bowl-a-Thon, hosted by Doug Davis.

A great crowd was on hand at Pinstrikes Bowling Center at Bayshore Town Center in Glendale, Wisconsin, both to bowl and, to watch the tournament unfold.

The evening began with drinks, appetizers, a silent auction and a few different raffles that fans could enter.



The silent auction featured items such as autographed bats, baseballs, jerseys, caps,

After the drawing, it was time to get down to business.  The players were assigned to their lanes and the bowling commenced with Doug Davis, the evening’s host, throwing out the official “first ball”.



Doug Davis (right), the evening’s host, poses with Chris Capuano.


Proceeds from the event proceeds benefited the Miracle League of Milwaukee through the Doug Davis Foundation and the Brewers Community Foundation.


The Miracle League of Milwaukee is a project that the Club has been supporting in various ways this season, including through the Pepsi Refresh Project. Fifteen teams across Major League Baseball are asking fans to join them in making a difference in America’s communities; each Club has presented a proposed community project for support and here in Milwaukee, the Club has chosen the Miracle League, campaigning for fan votes and an ultimate $200,000 grant to fulfill the project. (Click here to cast your vote up to ten times a day until Tuesday, August 17 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.) 


Doug Davis: Throwing Strikes On and Off the Mound

On Sunday, August 8, Brewers pitcher Doug Davis will host a Bowl-a-Thon at Pinstrikes Bowling Center at Bayshore Town Center in Glendale, Wisconsin.  Davis will be joined by Brewers teammates and coaches at the event, where proceeds will benefit the Miracle League of Milwaukee through the Doug Davis Foundation and the Brewers Community Foundation.

The Doug Davis Foundation, whose motto is, “Helping better the lives of children,” started in 2008 with a golf tournament while Davis was playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He established the Foundation to help assist children with various medical, social and family needs. Over the next couple of years, Davis has held more events such as poker tournaments, meet and greets, and special behind-the scenes ballpark tours in addition to what has now become his annual Celebrity/Charity Golf Invitational. The proceeds from some of those events have gone to the Miracle League of Arizona, helping to build a baseball stadium designed for use by children with special needs.

The Miracle League of Milwaukee is a project that the Club has been supporting in various ways this season, including through the Pepsi Refresh Project. Fifteen teams across Major League Baseball are asking fans to join them in making a difference in America’s communities; each Club has presented a proposed community project for support and here in Milwaukee, the Club has chosen the Miracle League, campaigning for fan votes and an ultimate $200,000 grant to fulfill the project. (Click here to cast your vote up to ten times a day until Tuesday, August 17 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.)

Because of Davis’ work with the Miracle League of Arizona, the Miracle League is also something that Davis strongly supports and he will donate the proceeds from the Bowl-a-Thon to the Miracle League of Milwaukee.

“Children, you know, like the song says, they are our future. The Miracle League in particular is very special to me because without it, those kids don’t get to play. They want to be just like the big leaguers they see on TV, with the field and the amenities. To know that you’re sharing your love for the game with them and that you’re helping them, it makes you feel really good inside. And when you see them play and realize the sense of achievement that they get out of it, it is very humbling,” Davis said.

There are a number of different ways to participate in the Bowl-a-Thon, which takes place from 6-9 p.m., following the Brewers vs. Houston Astros game.

Lane sponsorship is $1000 and includes bowling for five people plus a Brewers player, five tickets to a Brewers game, free food and drinks at the event, goodie bags including an autographed baseball, additional autograph and photograph opportunities, plus raffle prizes. The high bowler in each lane will also receive an autographed custom bowling pin. Individual spots are available for $200. 

While the Doug Davis Foundation has held poker and golf events, Davis has never held his own bowling event, though he has participated in them in the past.

While it is Davis’ first time hosting a Bowl-a-Thon, this is not the first time for the Brewers. Most recently, former Brewers outfielder, Mike Cameron, hosted the Brewers Bowl-a-Thon in 2009.

I did a little homework before our interview. Over the past 6 seasons (2004-2009), Davis has been in the top 25 National League pitchers in strikeouts for five of those seasons, including finishing tied for third in 2005, his personal best. In addition, Doug’s current average strikeouts per nine innings pitched (K/9) is 7.98 in 2010.

“Doug, your average strikeouts per nine innings pitched is nearly at 8 for this season. How are you as a bowler? Can we expect to come out and see you throw just as many strikes per 10 frames?” I inquired, being the hard-hitting blog reporter that I am.                                                                                                                       

It’s okay, though. Davis has an excuse. He will be bowling right-handed in the event to protect his pitching arm, especially as he treats his tendinitis.

So, if Davis isn’t overly confident in his own bowling abilities…who is the best bowler on the team?

Players currently scheduled to appear at the event along with Davis are: John Axford, Zach Braddock, Ryan Braun, Chris Capuano, Prince Fielder, Corey Hart, Joe Inglett, Kameron Loe, Casey McGehee, Chris Narveson, Manny Parra, Randy Wolf, and more.

“So, are you picking Ryan Braun to win it all then?” I pressed.

While Davis has made his prediction, it still sounds like it’s anyone’s ballgame. However, one thing is for certain: On Sunday, August 8, the Miracle League of Milwaukee will be the true winner as the team and fans come out to have a fun time and raise money for this worthy cause.  We hope to see you there!


To participate in the event or for more information, visit, or contact Greg Harris with the Doug Davis Foundation at (847) 924-6140 or via e-mail at  For more information on the Miracle League of Milwaukee, please visit


Full Workout For Pitchers and Catchers on Day Two

The weather cooperated today as the rain stopped and made way for clear skies and dry conditions today in Phoenix.  It was a bit on the cool side and the wind made it feel at times quite brisk, but the Brewers Pitchers and Catchers were able to get in a full workout today. 

The workout included conditioning, bunting, and the always popular “PFP,” short for Pitchers Fielding Practice.  Pitchers also had some throwing work today as a group through bullpen sessions.  The early reporting position players worked out on the “backfields” at Maryvale Baseball Park, taking batting practice and running through light fielding drills.

I took a couple photos today to show you all what was going on in camp. 


P1000352.JPGIn this conditioning exercise, players are seen balancing on a foam square on one leg while “juggling” two balls.  One ball was a regular baseball and the other was a slightly larger and heavier training ball.  Strength and Conditioning Coach Chris Joyner stressed the importance of players using their core strength to maintain their balance.


P1000495.JPGPitching Coach Rick Peterson addresses a group of pitchers prior to a PFP drill.

P1000449.JPGTim Dillard covers first in a PFP drill.  Pitchers simulated the motion of delivering a pitch and then ran to cover first as if the hitter hit the ball to the first baseman.  PFP drills are quite common in Spring Training as players not only get used to their mechanics on the mound, but also get into a groove with their general fielding.

P1000507.JPGCatcher Matt Treanor works with Third Base Coach Brad Fischer on catching drills.  The catchers today worked on throwing runners out on the bases.  Catchers, just like pitchers, have to get their arm strength built up during the first workouts of Spring Training.

P1000525.JPGOne of the more popular drills early on in Spring Training is the bunting station.  Players work on getting bunts down to certain locations–especially down the line.  Point values are awarded for laying down bunts in specific locations.  Players normally take ten pitches each round and aim five down the left field line and five down the right field line in hopes to score the most points.

P1000523.JPGThe bunting station always draws one of the bigger crowds of fans during workout days.  Players always get into it especially when it is made a competition.  Just the pitchers are participating this week, but when the full squad reports next week, they too will participate.


P1000480.JPGPitcher Chris Capuano squares in for a bunt earlier today.

That is all from today at Maryvale Baseball Park.  We will have more action for you from Brewers Spring Training tomorrow.  Again, if you have any questions about Spring Training or any comments, please feel free to e-mail us!