It’s hard to believe Tyrone Taylor has spent nearly a decade in the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Even Taylor seemed almost shocked by that reality when it was mentioned to him Monday.
“It’s crazy,” Taylor said. “It has been a lot of ups and downs. I’ve had some injuries, I’ve had some good seasons, some bad ones. I’m just thankful for the journey I’ve been on and thankful that I’ve learned to enjoy the journey itself, and be able to be here right now.”
Selected in the second round of the 2012 draft, Taylor has yet to completely break through at the major league level. The slow progress would leave many players frustrated, but Taylor doesn’t give the impression he’s remotely bothered. Though he admits there have been times when he wondered if it was time to move on.
“Whether it was because of baseball or personal life things that were happening at the time, I’m sure most of us have gone through that,” Taylor said. “It’s just part of it, and you learn how to overcome it and keep on rolling. Keep on showing up.”
His best season came in 2019, when he batted .269 with 14 home runs and a .795 OPS for Class AAA San Antonio, a performance that earned Taylor his first big league call-up that September. He went 4-for-10 with two doubles in 15 games, putting himself into the mix for a spring training roster spot in 2020.
Those plans changed when the COVID-19 pandemic brought baseball to a halt. He was added to Milwaukee’s 60-man player pool but spent most of the season at the team’s alternate training site in Appleton, where action was limited to individual work and intrasquad games.
It wasn’t an ideal situation for young players looking to earn their way to the big leagues. But with so many other players at home due to the cancellation of minor league seasons, Taylor knew it was still an opportunity.
“I felt you had a choice,” Taylor said. “You could either go there and have a bad attitude about it and not do anything and complain, or you go there and get better. That’s what we all did. Everybody was on the same page there. The coaching staff knew we were there to get better and they also reminded us what we needed to work on. It was just a good time and good people.”
Taylor earned another September call-up and posted a .793 OPS with two home runs and six RBIs in 22 games. He figured to be a leading candidate for a backup outfield spot going into this spring but was presented with another challenge when the Brewers added outfielders Billy McKinney and Derek Fisher — former high draft picks who are out of minor league options — to their spring training roster.
Again, Taylor is unfazed.
“I go out there every day and try to be the best version of myself,” Taylor said. “My attitude any given day is to go out there and try to get better. That’s one of the things I learned about being here for so long. They’re going to do what they’re going to do. You control what you can control.”
Taylor got off to a good start in Cactus League play, hitting a home run in Milwaukee’s opener Sunday against the Chicago White Sox.
“Ultimately, it’s on the player to be the one who gets himself up every day and does the work and seeks out ways to improve,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “I think that’s what Tyrone did. It’s clear he had a great offseason. He worked very hard.”
On the field
Manny Piña had two hits, including a two-run home run in the first inning, as the Brewers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-1 on Monday at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Piña’s homer was Milwaukee’s fifth through two Cactus League games and the fourth hit by a player in his first spring at-bat.
“It’s pretty remarkable,” Counsell said.
Corbin Burnes (1-0) struck out two batters and fellow right-hander Freddy Peralta struck out three while allowing a hit and a walk in the second inning. Seven Brewers pitchers combined to hold the Diamondbacks to four hits while striking out 10.
Arizona scored its only run in the third on an RBI single by Asdrúbal Cabrera. It was one of three hits allowed by right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, an Auburndale native who signed a minor league deal last month.
“I thought Jordan did fine,” Counsell said. “He threw a bunch of two-seam fastballs. That’s something he’s experimenting with a little bit more. This is the first outing and we’re just trying to establish some foundation moving forward.”
Outfielder Garret Mitchell, Milwaukee’s first-round pick in last summer’s draft, singled in his first at-bat.
“I think it was a fun day for him,” Counsell said. “His first major league spring training game, first day playing in front of fans with a Brewers uniform on. ... I think he had 3-4 flyballs and a nice at-bat for a base hit. It was probably a fun day more than anything.”
Yovani Gallardo, Carlos Gómez and Francisco Rodríguez will be added to the Wall of Honor at American Family Field this summer, the Brewers announced.
Gallardo was the Brewers’ second-round pick in 2004 and over eight seasons set the franchise’s strikeouts record (1,226) while going 89-64 with a 3.69 ERA in 214 appearances.
Gómez spent six of his 13 major league seasons in Milwaukee, batting .267 with 87 home runs and 288 RBIs with the Brewers.
Rodriguez spent five of his 16 major league seasons with the Brewers, recording 95 saves and earning two of All-Star appearances.
Induction on the Wall of Honor is based on predetermined statistical and service-time benchmarks.
From the infirmary
Right-hander Brandon Woodruff was originally announced as the starter Tuesday when the Brewers host the Oakland Athletics, but he is being pushed back a few days because of a sore back.
“It’s minor,” Counsell said. “We’re maybe 2-3 days behind, but he’s thrown his live (batting practice already).”
With Woodruff out, right-hander Josh Lindblom will start Tuesday for Milwaukee while the Athletics will counter with right-hander Parker Dunshee.
Here’s everything you need to know as Milwaukee Brewers kick off spring training in Arizona
Here's everything you need to know as Milwaukee Brewers kick off spring training in Arizona
After Keston Hiura moved to first base to make way for Kolten Wong, third base remained the only position without an obvious starting candidate.
The Brewers brought Travis Shaw back on a minor-league contract, hoping he can return to the form in 2017-18, when he hit 63 home runs with 187 RBI. While Luis Urias (above) and former top-prospect Daniel Robertson are likely to get a shot at winning the job, too.
Acquired last winter in a trade with Seattle, Omar Narváez (above) was supposed to give the Brewers a much-needed offensive boost while admittedly being a work-in-progress behind the plate. Instead, Narvaez was one of many Brewers hitters to struggle last season but surprised the Brewers’ coaching staff and front office with his defensive improvements. He’s back again in 2021 but will have to battle for a job with the likes of Manny Piña, Jacob Nottingham and Luke Maile.
With Brett Anderson returning on a one-year deal, the Brewers will open camp with all five spots of their starting rotation seemingly filled. But as history has shown, it’s rare to get through an entire season with just five starters. So who’s waiting in the wings if and when the Brewers need a replacement? Eric Lauer (above) and Freddy Peralta will try to earn spots in the rotation this spring, as will former UW-Stevens Point standout Jordan Zimmermann, who is in camp on a minor league deal.
It was a quiet offseason for the Brewers, but they weren’t unique in that regard. Across baseball, trades and signings seemed to be few and far between as players and teams both waited out a winter of uncertainty. Now that camps are open, there’s a greater likelihood of trades and with more than 100 free agents still unsigned, the Brewers’ roster could have a new face or two before the season gets underway.
Baseball is back, but for how long? That might be the single biggest question this spring, not just for the Brewers but baseball as a whole. The pandemic still rages on and though vaccinations are on the rise, one infection can quickly become an outbreak that leaves an entire team sidelined indefinitely. Players resisted requests and suggestions to delay the start of spring training, and the regular season, by a month believing they proved last year they can complete a season safely. But the margin for error is still slim and another full-blown shutdown of spring training, which would ultimately impact the regular season, remains one large outbreak away.
Teams are allowed to have up to 75 players in major league camp at any given time and the Brewers go into camp with all 40 of their roster spots filled along with 20 non-roster invitees. Once the regular season begins, active rosters will revert to the original 26-player limit that was planned for 2020 before the pandemic suspended operations. Teams still are allowed to add an additional player to the active roster for doubleheaders and can have a taxi squad of up to five players — including one catcher — on all road trips. Rosters will expand again in September, but only by two spots for a total of 28.
Pitchers (31): Brett Anderson, Clayton Andrews*, Aaron Ashby*, Alec Bettinger, Phil Bickford, Ray Black, Zach Brown*, Corbin Burnes, Jake Cousins*, J.P. Feyereisen, Dylan File, Josh Hader, Blaine Hardy*, Adrian Houser, Thomas Jankins*, Eric Lauer, Josh Lindblom, Hoby Milner*, Freddy Peralta, Angel Perdomo, Drew Rasmussen, Miguel Sanchez*, Ethan Small*, Brent Suter, Justin Topa, Quintin Torres-Costa*, Bobby Wahl, Devin Williams, Brandon Woodruff, Eric Yardley, Jordan Zimmermann*.
Catchers (6): Mario Feliciano, Payton Henry*, Luke Maile, Omar Narvaez, Jacob Nottingham, Manny Pina.
Infielders (11): Orlando Arcia, Zach Green*, Keston Hiura, Tim Lopes, Mark Mathias, Jace Peterson*, Daniel Robertson, Travis Shaw*, Brice Turang*, Luis Urias, Daniel Vogelbach, Kolten Wong.
Outfielders (11): Lorenzo Cain, Dylan Cozens*, Derek Fisher, Avisail Garcia, Tristen Lutz*, Billy McKinney, Garrett Mitchell*, Corey Ray, Pablo Reyes*, Tyrone Taylor, Christian Yelich.
* — Non-roster invitee
Manager Craig Counsell’s coaching staff will have a different look in 2021. Third-base coach Ed Sedar has transitioned into a new, advisory role while longtime bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel’s contract was not renewed by the team after last season.
Sedar will be replaced on the staff by Quintin Berry, who had been the Brewers' minor-league outfield and base-running coordinator for the last two seasons after concluding his 13-year playing career serving as a player/coach with Class AAA Colorado Springs in 2018.
Néstor Corredor and Adam Weisenburger will replace Hanel and Robinson Diaz as the team's bullpen catchers.
The rest of Counsell's staff will remain intact moving forward, including hitting coaches Andy Haines (above left) and Jacob Cruz. Chris Hook and Steve Karsay will handle Milwaukee’s pitchers and bullpen, respectively, and Pat Murphy returns for a sixth season as Counsell’s bench coach.
Jason Lane, the Brewers’ first base coach last season, returns, too, though Counsell planned to decide during spring training where Lane and Berry would be used in games this season.
Manager — Craig Counsell (7th season). Bases — Quintin Berry (1st season), Jason Lane (5th season); Bullpen — Steve Karasy (3rd season); Bench — Pat Murphy (6th season); Hitting — Jacob Cruz (2nd season); Andy Haines (3rd season); Bullpen catchers — Néstor Corredor (1st season); Adam Weisenburger (1st season).
The Cactus League schedule underwent a last-minute adjustment earlier this month with the elimination of split-squad games. The Brewers will play 27 games in Arizona — 14 at American Family Fields and 13 on the road — and wrap up their exhibition slate with a pair of contests against the Rangers at Globe Life Park on March 29 and 30 before returning to Milwaukee ahead of their April 1 regular-season opener against the Twins at American Family Field.
February: 28 — @ Chicago White Sox. March: 1 — at Diamondbacks; 2 — vs. Athletics.; 3 — at Padres; 4 — vs. Cleveland.; 5 — at Rockies; 6 — vs Cubs; 7 — OFF; 8 — vs. Angels; 9 — vs. Giants; 10 — at Athletics; 11 — vs. Royals; 12 — at Cubs; 13 — vs. Rangers; 14 — at Mariners; 15 — vs. Padres; 16 — at Dodgers; 17 — OFF DAY; 18 — at Angels; 19 — vs. Diamondbacks; 20 — at Reds (7 p.m.); 21 — vs. Mariners; 22 — vs Cleveland; 23 — vs. Dodgers; 25 — at Giants (8 p.m.); 26 — vs. White Sox; 27 — at Royals; 28 — at Reds; 29 — vs. Rangers (Arlington, Texas); 30 — vs. Rangers (Arlington, Texas).
(NOTE: Unless otherwise noted, all games start at 2:10 p.m. local time prior to March 14 and 3:10 p.m. after, due to Arizona not observing Daylight Savings Time)
Unlike previous seasons, fans will not be able to watch the team’s workouts, which take place on the complex’s ancillary fields. That means no opportunities for kids — little and big alike — to get autographs and pictures. The team store at American Family Fields will be open and the team announced last week that a limited number of fans — up to 23% of capacity at the 10,000-seat stadium — will be allowed to attend games when Cactus League play gets underway.