Brewers Spring Training FAQ

February 18th, 2021

The grass is cut and the foul lines are chalked. It’s time for the start of another Brewers Spring Training.

“I don't know that anyone knows exactly what to expect, because we've never gone through this before,” said president of baseball operations David Stearns, referring to the health and safety protocols in place as the team gets to work at American Family Fields of Phoenix. “There are going to be ups and downs. … We're hardly the only industry that that is facing this.

“So I think what we need to do is focus on giving our best effort and doing everything we can to make this work.”

That effort begins on Thursday with the Brewers’ first official workout for pitchers and catchers. Here’s what you need to know as baseball returns.

What are some key dates on the schedule?

Feb. 23: First full-squad workout
Feb. 28: Cactus League opener, at White Sox
March 2: First Cactus League home game, vs. A’s
March 29-30: Exhibition games at Rangers in Arlington
April 1: Opening Day, vs. Twins
July 11-13: MLB Draft
July 13: 91st All-Star Game, at Truist Park in Atlanta
July 25: Hall of Fame induction ceremony
Oct. 3: Regular-season finale, at Dodgers

How can I watch/listen/follow in Spring Training?

Fans will be able to follow all Spring Training developments via MLB.com, which will be in Brewers camp beginning with the first full-squad workout (the first day the complex is open to the media). You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram and like my page on Facebook for access to news and photos and video. And -- breaking news here -- we are working on a newsletter for Brewers fans that is expected to launch next week.

As for watching and listening to the games, stay tuned. The Brewers and Fox Sports Wisconsin’s parent company this week struck a deal to extend their television-rights agreement beginning in 2021 for an undisclosed term. Some Spring Training games will be televised as usual, but the schedule is in the works as of this writing. The Brewers will also continue to air this season via the Brewers Radio Network. The spring schedule of radio and webcasts has not yet been released.

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Can fans attend Spring Training?

Unfortunately, workouts are closed to the public due to the pandemic. That’s a shame, since Brewers camp is one of the best spots in the Cactus League for getting up close and personal with players. But the Brewers do plan to host fans for Cactus League games at American Family Fields of Phoenix, capped at just shy of 25 percent capacity, with groups seated in “pods.” Visit Brewers.com/SpringTraining for ticket information and a full rundown of the regulations for fans planning to attend games.

Given the pandemic, how is Spring Training going to be different this year?

We got into that with Stearns in a recent Q&A. Stearns is one of a group of club officials that includes medical director Roger Caplinger; senior director of team travel and clubhouse operations Dan Larrea and his No. 2, Joe Swanhart; longtime clubhouse managers Tony Migliaccio, Jason Shawger, Phil Rozewicz and the rest of the clubhouse crew; Maryvale site general manager Andrew Daugherty; communications officials Tyler Barnes, Mike Vassallo and Andrew Gruman; and many more who are working to ensure that Spring Training is a safe, productive place for players.

The operation will look different than years past. Team employees, including players and coaches, must have Tier 1 or Tier 2 status to access the clubhouse complex. Others, including media, will work from a distance. Teams established a 75-man player pool that includes members of big league camp, a limited number of Minor Leaguers and some rehabbing players. The rest of the Brewers’ Minor League players won’t report to prepare for their own seasons until a later date.

The Brewers plan to move as many of their activities that typically take place indoors to a space outside; the 2019 Maryvale renovation provides a big help in that area, because it vastly increased the number of covered spaces.

Are players being vaccinated against COVID-19?

Players are encouraged to take a vaccine when they become eligible based on government guidelines, but they have no special access.

What are the key roster/position battles to watch?

Third base: Luis Urías? Former top A’s prospect Daniel Robertson? Non-roster invitee Travis Shaw? Another outside signee? This is probably the position most up for grabs.

Rotation: Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes are at the top of a rotation that is sure to include Josh Lindblom and Brett Anderson (once Anderson’s one-year agreement is finalized). After that there are some options. Adrian Houser was a lock entering Spring Training last year but didn’t have a great season; he’s out of options. Eric Lauer had a horrible year, beginning with a delayed start due to COVID protocols. Freddy Peralta mostly pitched out of the bullpen, but he’s not ruled out as a starter. Former Nationals ace Jordan Zimmermann is in camp as a non-roster invitee.

Bullpen: Every team has some bullpen battles every year, and the Brewers like their choices to fill out the spots behind Josh Hader, Devin Williams, Brent Suter, Eric Yardley and whoever from the rotation battle winds up in the ‘pen. Drew Rasmussen, Jostin Topa and Angel Perdomo have big arms. Bobby Wahl and Ray Black are aiming to bounce back. Phil Bickford is back on the map. The Brewers’ bullpen has been a strength in recent years and club officials will spend the spring putting the pieces in the right place for that to be the case again.

Who are some prospects to keep an eye on in camp?

Garrett Mitchell, the Brewers’ top Draft pick last year, has Type 1 diabetes and was not assigned to the alternate training site, but he got some at-bats in the fall instructional league and is heading into his first full professional season -- and his first big league camp. He’ll be joined by MLB Pipeline’s No. 2 Brewers prospect Brice Turang, who has lots of experience in Cactus League games but is a bona fide member of big league camp for the first time.

Other members of last year’s season-ending Top 30 Brewers prospects list in camp: Ethan Small, Mario Feliciano, Tristen Lutz, Aaron Ashby, Corey Ray, Zack Brown, Payton Henry, Tyrone Taylor, Alec Bettinger, Dylan File and Clayton Andrews.

Are there any injury situations to watch?

We should learn more about the outcome of this week’s physical exams on Thursday, when manager Craig Counsell conducts the first Zoom session of Spring Training. At the moment, the only known issue is catcher Jacob Nottingham, who underwent surgery on his left thumb in late December but was expected to be back to full strength by the start of camp or shortly thereafter.