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Travis Shaw confident he'll find work in return to Milwaukee
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Travis Shaw confident he'll find work in return to Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE — Travis Shaw’s attempt at a comeback with the Milwaukee Brewers is officially underway after the veteran third baseman passed his physical to finalize a one-year minor league contract.

Shaw, who turns 31 in April, spent three seasons with Milwaukee. After hitting 63 home runs with 187 RBIs in 2017-18, he started 2019 in a slump he never shook off and ultimately parted ways with the Brewers when the two sides couldn’t settle on a salary for 2020.

The split was disappointing for both Shaw and the organization, but he insisted Tuesday there were no hard feelings nor fences to be mended as spring training begins.

“It was a long time ago,” Shaw said. “Once I left, I turned the page and started over.”

A popular member of the Brewers’ tight-knit clubhouse, he spent 2020 with the Toronto Blue Jays but stayed in touch with a number of his teammates as well as manager Craig Counsell.

“This place kind of stood out to me from the start, and it was something that I hoped would come together,” Shaw said. “Obviously after (free agent third baseman Justin) Turner went back to L.A., it kind of happened quickly after that. I’m glad that it got done and I’m glad to be back.”

So is Counsell, whose agent, Barry Meister, works for the same agency that represents Shaw and helped facilitate the reunion. Although Shaw’s numbers weren’t eye-popping with Toronto last season (.239, 6 home runs, 17 RBIs), they’re a marked improvement from his disastrous 2019 and suggest he’s perhaps capable of performing the way he first did with Milwaukee.

Shaw isn’t guaranteed a job. The Brewers didn’t sign another third base candidate during the offseason but are considering Luis Urias for the job as well as other internal candidates.

“I don’t know how it’s going to roll for him this year,” Counsell said. “I don’t know what the opportunity is going to be for him. But I know with the way our roster is situated, he’s a fit.”

Shaw’s contract includes an opt-out that allows him to return to the open market if he isn’t added to the roster by March 15.

“I’m not looking at that right now,” Shaw said. “I’m just coming in every day trying to show that I still have a lot left in the tank and I’m confident I will be able to do that. If I play like I know I can play, I’m confident that Opening Day will work itself out.”

Game planning

The Brewers open Cactus League play Sunday against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona, but it’s unlikely the teams will play a full nine-inning game.

As part of the 2021 health and safety protocols, Major League Baseball has allowed teams to shorten games to as few as five innings at the start of spring training, with a goal of protecting players from injuries and limiting interaction to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The length of games will be decided the night before.

“Both teams have to agree on it,” Counsell said. “I think you’ll probably see more seven-inning games than five-inning games, but the option (for five innings) is important to have.”

Garcia trims down

Avisail Garcia reported to camp looking noticeably more svelte than last season, shedding around 30 pounds from his 6-foot-4 frame.

Whether that helps him rebound from a disappointing offensive showing last season remains to be seen. but Counsell does think it will help Garcia as he shifts back to right field after spending most of 2020 in center when Lorenzo Cain opted out of the season.

“It’s very visible,” Counsell said. “He looks good. He worked hard at it and I think it’s going to be a good thing for him.”

Here’s everything you need to know as Milwaukee Brewers kick off spring training in Arizona

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