Results tagged ‘ Maryvale Baseball Park ’

Spring Training Games Are Right Around the Corner: There is No Offseason for Joe Zidanic

Greetings from Arizona!

I’m happy to inform you that pitchers, catchers and Cait have all reported to Spring Training!

This week, we’ll be shooting our new TV spots for 2011 down here, but today was an off day for me.

I understand we’re getting some snow back in
Milwaukee, but don’t be too jealous of me–it’s about 50 degrees and
raining here as I write.

I figured that since it isn’t pool or golfing weather, I might as well do some work, so I 
headed over to the ballpark to talk with some folks for the blog.

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Clouds looking ominous over Maryvale Baseball Park today. It will be 70 and sunny by the time you get here, I promise!

My first stop was to meet with “Mr. Spring Training” himself, Joe Zidanic, our VP-Controller, who moonlights as our director of Spring Training.

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Joe Zidanic: VP-Controller & “Mr. Spring Training”

That means that, in addition to his finance
responsibilities in Milwaukee, Joe is pretty much responsible for all of
the business operations in Maryvale: ticket sales,
sponsorship sales (along with Tom Hecht, our VP-Corporate
Marketing
), advertising (which he works with our department on), hiring
staff, running the games and serving as the main liaison with the City
of Phoenix.

When Joe first came to the Brewers in April of
2003, his job was to work in the finance/accounting department as the
Club’s controller.

 So then, how did he get this gig where he flocks to Arizona during two of Wisconsin’s coldest months while getting paid for it?

“In December 2004, I was handed the assignment to
come down here and run Spring Training for the months of February and
March,” Joe said.

“Prior to 2005, which was my first season running
things down here, Spring Training had really been kind of under the
radar so my job was to go in, document everything, develop policies and
procedures and create checklists. I did a good
job and I’m still doing it,” he explained.

I can’t imagine having to balance two separate
jobs, much less essentially relocate for two months of the year, so I
asked Joe how he does it.

“Luckily, I have a great staff in Milwaukee to
handle things and it’s a slower time of the year for us. We’ve already
published our financials, closed the fiscal year-end, closed the
calendar year-end for W-2’s and 1099’s
and have made progress in filing our taxes. It is kind of a nice, slower time for me to break away from the Milwaukee area.”

As far as relocation, Joe will settle into a room
in an extended stay hotel near the Glendale area for the duration of
Spring Training.

I had enough trouble packing for just this week and I’m
probably going to end up paying extra for my luggage on the return
flight due to the great shopping down here (don’t worry, Joe, I won’t
try to expense that), so I had to ask: “How on earth do you pack for something like this?”

“Well, that’s a good question,” Joe said. “The
equipment truck leaves in January every year, so I just go to the closet
and get all my short sleeve shirts and shorts and throw them in a bag
and ship them down with everything else,” he said.

Joe’s Spring Training job doesn’t start just when
steps off the plane in Phoenix. He’s got to prepare in advance for those
games, just like we do for our regular season.

There are tickets to sell, promotions to plan, sponsorships to sell and more.

“As far as ticket promotions go, I work with our
ticket office here and back in Milwaukee to try and generate excitement
and ticket sales,” Joe said.

“Last year, we averaged about 4,500 to 5,000 fans
per game. We’re expecting that to be around the same this year, but it
really varies. Attendance will be slower in the beginning and then there
are some peak games in the middle where we’ll
almost reach capacity. It really depends on the week and things like
when Spring Break happens for the colleges in the Phoenix area and
around the United States. Generally, the most popular times are the
second and third weeks in March.”

Joe tells me that the most popular games are also,
not surprisingly, those against the Cubs (March 2 this year) and also,
the Diamondbacks (March 12)
because of their local fan base.

“We did a survey out here a couple of years ago and
we’ll get about 50% of the fans coming from Wisconsin. The rest of the
fans will either be fans of the visiting team or local Phoenicians who
are down here,” Joe tells me.

That makes me proud–Brewers fans have always been good travelers!

So, what can you expect if you’re traveling down here this year?

Well, lots of fun and excitement, of course!

Just like our games in Milwaukee, there are giveaways and in-game promotions to entice fans.

“For giveaways, we work with Tom Hecht and his
group in Corporate Marketing. If there are leftover bobble heads from
the prior season, we will use those in the following season’s Spring
Training camp so that we don’t let anything go to
waste and we’re also picking up room in the warehouse back at Miller
Park,” Joe said.

So, if you missed out on your Robin Yount
(March 5), Cecil Cooper (March 8), Hank Aaron (March 21) or Italian
Sausage (March 26) Bobbles
at Miller Park, there’s a second chance for you to get them
at Maryvale Baseball Park!

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During the games, Joe’s crew will also run popular promotions such as: the
Junior Announcer, which is similar to what we have at Miller Park,
where a child will announce batters during an inning of the game; Jimmy
Buffet’s Margaritaville
‘s “Name that
Jimmy Buffet Song”, which is always a fan favorite; the City of Phoenix
golf
promotion where a lucky fan who buys a game program that has a
Bernie Brewer autograph on the City’s golf ad will receive a coupon for
free golf at a local City of Phoenix golf course;
and a Hooters promotion where a lucky row is chosen to receive coupons for free wings at the local Hooters restaurant.

Another popular promotion down here is the Miller Lite Thirsty Thursdays, which means that on Thursdays, you can get a game ticket, a beer and visor for just $20. There are three 
Thirsty Thursdays this year–March 3 vs. the A’s, March 10 vs. the Rockies and March 17 vs. the White Sox.

In addition to the Miller Lite Thirsty Thursday promotion on
St. Patrick’s Day, the players will be also be wearing a special green
hat, which will eventually be auctioned off to fans.

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And just like in Milwaukee, there is even a special
tribute game. On March 22 vs. the San Diego Padres, there will be
Cerveceros Day in Maryvale, paying tribute to Hispanics in baseball. The Brewers will wear
special Cerveceros jerseys, which is the Spanish translation of ‘Brewers.’ (Note: Our regular-season Cerveceros Day is slated for June 11 vs. the Cardinals at Miller Park.)

“Cerveceros Day is popular down here,” Joe said. “We will use our electronic billboard campaign to promote it. Maryvale is a largely Hispanic area, so we try and reach out to the community and have special things
there. We have had a Mariachi band in years past and we’ll try and do that again this year.”

All in all, there are 17 home games played at Maryvale
and if you make a trip of it, you can catch the Brewers on the road,
too, at one of the other nine Spring Training facilities in the Cactus League, which are all
within an hour of each other.

As you can see, there are lots of things to look forward to if you’re planning on making it down here.

As for Joe, with two jobs in the organization, he
certainly has a lot on his plate, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have a
little fun while he’s down in Arizona. When I was talking with him this
morning, I couldn’t help but notice this photo,
hanging in his office.

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Turns out that yesterday, Joe, who is also a huge sportsman, went on a javelina hunt where, as you can see, he was successful!

That’s great that Joe had some time to himself his
weekend, because things are really ramping up now and he’ll hit the
ground running next week, starting with the first game on Monday,
February 28.

Do any of you have any plans to come down to
Arizona? Post your stories of this year’s trip or from years past in the
comment field below.
We’d love to hear from you!

If you don’t have plans yet, make some! Click here to get your tickets now!

 -CAIT

johnandcait@brewers.com

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

 

The Full Squad is Here

It was a pretty busy Friday in Brewers Camp today.  Today was the day that the position players reported to camp meaning the clubhouse was full with Brewers.  Alcides Escobar was the final Brewer to report (and, no that is not a negative thing for him because the team encouraged him to take some time off following his stint in the Venezuelan Winter League) and he participated in some batting practice and took some grounders with the rest of the infielders. 

It was nice to have the entire team together today and the full official workouts begin tomorrow.  The team will have workouts tomorrow through Tuesday and then have an intrasquad game at Maryvale Baseball Park on Wednesday.

The weather was perfect today, about 70 degrees and not a cloud to be seen.  I have a lot of pictures for everyone today, so I will get right to them.

 


P1000527.jpgBrewers Catcher Angel Salome goes over some questions in the visiting clubhouse at Maryvale Baseball Park.  Aleta Mercer and Deron Anderson set up and record short interviews with each player for scoreboard entertainment purposes during the regular season at Miller Park. 
 


P1000559.jpgBrewers Shortstop Alcides Escobar takes batting practice during his informal workout with the team this morning.
 


P1000588.jpgRyan Braun takes batting practice during today’s workout.
 


P1000599.jpgTrevor Hoffman throws a bullpen session during today’s workout as head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger looks on.
 


P1000634.jpgManager Ken Macha addresses a group of Brewers pitchers and catchers at one of the stations during today’s workout.
 


P1000700.jpgLast year’s First Round Draft Pick Eric Arnett throws a bullpen session today.
 


P1000643.jpgInside the Brewers batting tunnel, a group from Froedert and the Medical College of Wisconsin set up sensors to record and analyze the throwing motion of Brewers pitchers.  Today, five pitchers participated in throwing in front of these sensors.  The sensors were hooked up to a computer that analyzed the throwing motion of each player.  The video will then be used by Brewers coaches, players and front office staff to help prevent injuries and improve performance.  Even the smallest adjustment can make for improvement in the delivery of each pitcher.  Players are encouraged to participate, but it is not mandated.


P1000644.jpgOver 40 of these little reflectors were attached to various spots on each pitchers body.  As you can see in the upper right of this picture, they even wore hats with the reflectors.


P1000690.jpgThis is what Dave Bush’s feet and legs looked like before he was ready to pitch.


P1000694.jpgHere is Dave Bush’s left arm with the reflectors.


P1000684.jpgThe computer screen shows little black dots.  Those are what the computer sees after the lights pick up the reflectors.  This is the outline of Yovani Gallardo as he was preparing to pitch.  You guys may think its odd that I didn’t post any pictures of the players actually pitching with all those little reflectors on.  There is a simple reason for that.  In order to get the most accurate reading of the each players body when in the pitching motion, the players had to pitch in, well, their underwear.  I really didn’t want to embarass anyone seeing as I have to work with these guys on a daily basis.  I hope you understand.  This is a family blog!  Anyway, this is the first of five days in which the team is doing this , so maybe there will be an opportunity to show some more photos.
 


P1000746.jpgHere is a “hot off the presses” copy of the 2010 Milwaukee Brewers Media Guide sitting on my desk.  The first shipment of guides came in to Phoenix today.  This is always the biggest offseason project of the Brewers Media Relations Department and it is always an exciting day when the hard copy of the guide is on my desk.  Mike Vassallo, Ken Spindler and I spent a lot of time on this year’s guide and we are happy it turned out well.  Fans can pick up their copy of the guide at the Brewers Team Store by Majestic and the FanZone at Maryvale Baseball Park beginning Monday afternoon.

Tomorrow is the first full workout for the team.  It should be another busy day here as a new routine begins.  I should have some more photos up for you this weekend.  Also, look for a behind the scenes tour of Maryvale Baseball Park in the next couple of days as well.  Some of you have never been able to come out here before and we want to make sure you are able to see what goes on here at Maryvale.  We should have that up for you all next week. 

–John

johnandcait@brewers.com

 

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!

–John

johnandcait@brewers.com

 

Sights From The First Official Workout For Pitchers and Catchers

This morning was the first official workout for pitchers and catchers at Maryvale Baseball Park.  The weather was cloudy, cool and the rain was on and off, but pitchers and catchers were still able to get in their throwing today. 

Pitchers and Catchers reported to camp on Saturday and yesterday was Physicals and Administrative day which made today the first day of official workouts.

The team took the field around 9:45 a.m. Arizona time and worked out for about two hours.  Pitchers threw bullpen sessions and didn’t take part in any “PFP,” defensive or other conditioning drills due to the wet ground.  Manager Ken Macha addressed the media as he does on a daily basis before the workout and Pitching Coach Rick Peterson led the pitchers in some their normal throwing. 

Some of the position players who reported to camp early participated in some light throwing, took some batting practice in the cages and did some infield work with Bench Coach Willie Randolph

It looks as though the weather will be clearing up tomorrow so the regular slate of activities for pitchers and catchers will be on. 

 

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Brewers Manager Ken Macha meets with reporters for his daily media session. 

P1000091.jpgBrewers pitching coach Rick Peterson meets with his pitchers before the first workout.

 

P1000130.jpgLefties Manny Parra (left) and Doug Davis (center) throw their first bullpen sessions of Spring Training while Peterson watches (right).

 

P1000158.jpgYovani Gallardo (left) and Dave Bush (right) participate in today’s workout.

 



P1000282.jpgNewly acquired Catcher Gregg Zaun catches Gallardo’s bullpen session.  If you notice the string in front of the plate, it was installed by Peterson in order to train pitchers to get the ball low in the strike zone.  The string lines up around the low end of the strike zone.

 
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Ed Sedar (left), Macha and General Manager Doug Melvin observe the workouts and discuss the first day.

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Peterson and Gallardo talk after Gallardo’s bullpen session.

A few of the players are still milling around the clubhouse and finishing their lunch.  The sun looks like it is trying to peak out a little bit which will make for a nice afternoon.  I will have more updates throughout the week from here at Maryvale!

–John

johnandcait@brewers.com

Who has Spring Fever!?


Brewers-Road-Crew-Final.jpgSpring Training is easily one of my favorite things about working for the Brewers.  I look forward to traveling to Phoenix every February.  Everything about it is fantastic: the weather (usually 80 degrees and sunny), the optimism (everyone is in first place), the laid back atmosphere (fans can get up close with the players and games are played in intimate ballparks) and the fans (a great mix of people of all ages and from all over the country). 

Spring Training is a great baseball experience for the avid fan all the way down to the newest baseball fan.  If you are a Brewers fan who has never been to Spring Training, it should definitely be on your list of things to do.   

The Brewers and Brewers Enterprises today announced an awesome opportunity for Brewers fans to visit Spring Training 2010 in Phoenix and cheer on the Brew Crew.  The first ever Brewers Road Crew Spring Training road trip will be from March 10 – 14, 2010–perfect timing as the cold Wisconsin winter is dragging on.  Brewers Enterprises, led by Jason Hartlund and his crew, have really put together a complete package and have taken out the hassle of figuring out details of a Spring Training trip.

Fans that are a part of the trip will get to see two games at the Brewers Spring Training home, Maryvale Baseball Park.  They will also get to see the Brewers take on the Chicago White Sox at Glendale’s Camelback Ranch.  Camelback Ranch opened in 2008 and is the Spring Training home of the White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.  I have been to all the Cactus League ballparks and, in my opinion, Camelback Ranch and Maryvale Baseball Park are two of the best Spring Training experiences in the Cactus League.  Game tickets and transportation are included to all three games.

Guests on the trip will stay at the Embassy Suites Biltmore in Phoenix.  It is one of the best locations in the Valley.  It is centrally located to great shopping, dining and golf locations.  You can literally walk right across the street to the Biltmore Fashion Park, filled with great restaurants and shopping.  The guestrooms in the hotel are two-room suites which make for plenty of room.  The hotel will host a special welcome reception for the Brewers Road Trip that will feature visits from Brewers front office personnel.

As an added bonus, included in the trip is a Loge Outfield ticket to Brewers Opening Day, Monday, April 5, 2010 vs. Colorado.  They really have thought of everything when planning this trip!  There will be other surprises along the way for guests of the trip including an opportunity to run in the Klement’s Sausage Race at Maryvale Baseball Park.

Space is limited to only eighty (80) guests and the travel packages go on sale tomorrow (Tuesday, November 24) at 10 a.m.  The price for a single traveler is $1,995 and the price for a couple (double occupancy) $3,695.  Each additional guest per room is $1,850.  If you need more information, visit brewers.com/roadcrew or call 414-902-GOAZ (4629) and some of the wonderful people in Brewers Enterprises will help you out.   

Spring Training is a “must visit” for every Brewers fan and this is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy Brewers Spring Training baseball.

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Corey Hart signs autographs for Fans at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix.

–John

johnandcait@brewers.com

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