PHOENIX -- Manager Craig Counsell referred to it as a "circular" lineup. Others would use the word "length." However one terms it, the Brewers believe the return of Mike Moustakas and the addition of Yasmani Grandal will make the lineup better than it was a year ago."I think it's about
PHOENIX -- Manager Craig Counsell referred to it as a "circular" lineup. Others would use the word "length." However one terms it, the Brewers believe the return of Mike Moustakas and the addition of Yasmani Grandal will make the lineup better than it was a year ago.
"I think it's about as good a lineup as I've ever been a part of, if you look at it on paper," said the longest-tenured member of the Brewers, Ryan Braun, who reported to camp Monday ahead of Tuesday's first full-squad workout. "On top of that, it just adds to our depth.
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"As we all know, over the course of a season, your depth will be tested. The more quality players you have starting on an everyday basis, as well as coming off your bench, the more beneficial it is as you inevitably deal with adversity as a team. [Moustakas] makes us a lot better, he adds to the depth and strength of our lineup. It really deepens our lineup, 1 through 8, no question."
With Grandal, a switch-hitter who is more potent from the left side, and Moustakas, the Brewers are flush with left-handed hitters. Here's a stab at their primary lineup:
1. Lorenzo Cain, CF
- Christian Yelich (L), RF
- Braun, LF
- Jesús Aguilar, 1B
- Travis Shaw (L), 3B
- Grandal (S), C
- Moustakas (L), 2B
- Orlando Arcia, SS
And if Counsell opts to capture more of the platoon advantage against a particularly tough right-handed pitcher, here's an even more lefty-heavy lineup:
1. Cain, CF
- Yelich (L), RF
- Shaw (L), 3B
- Grandal (S), C
- Moustakas (L), 2B
- Eric Thames (L), 1B
- Ben Gamel (L), LF
- Cory Spangenberg (L), SS
"I don't know if [adding lefty bats] was completely prioritized. We're prioritizing adding the best players we can add," said Counsell. "We faced roughly 120 right-handers and 40 left-handers from a starting-pitcher perspective. There's four left-handers in our division, probably, if you map out the rotations. So I think we have some answers left-handed."
Al LeBoeuf, the longtime Brewers Minor League coach who will serve as the hitting instructor at Triple-A San Antonio this season, last fall passed another milestone in his fight against a rare blood disorder. In his annual check-up at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa last September, LeBoeuf was declared five years cancer-free.
"My wife and I were pretty emotional," said LeBoeuf. "When somebody tells you you've got the C-word, it's pretty earth-shaking. But with a good attitude, the grace of God, many prayers and good people around you, you can pretty much accomplish anything. I'm living proof."
The cancer, called POEMS syndrome, began as numbness in his toes and eventually cost LeBoeuf the use of his legs. Now he can walk the Brewers' sprawling spring complex without aid, and is looking forward to seeing his son, Mac, get married in June.
LeBoeuf is also looking forward to the Brewers' new Triple-A home in San Antonio. A number of top prospects, including Keston Hiura, Mauricio Dubon, Corey Ray, Tyrone Taylor and Troy Stokes Jr. are likely to begin the season there with LeBoeuf.
"From what I understand, they've put a lot of money into the clubhouse," LeBoeuf said. "The thing I really enjoyed about Colorado Springs was the clubhouse, which was huge, and that the batting tunnel was right next door. I'm looking forward to seeing the new set-up."
Rave reviews of the renovated American Family Fields of Phoenix have not been limited to Major League players and staff. Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan, who used to work out of the cramped Minor League building at Maryvale Baseball Park, has been equally impressed.
"The first time I walked through, I must have said 'Wow' 75 times," Flanagan said. "In the old configuration, there was always that, 'Oh, if we had more space we could do this.' Now, we have the space. We just have to leverage it."
Brewers Minor Leaguers are no longer separated from the big league operation, as they were before. Players share athletic training facilities and a huge new weight room, and have much more space to spread out in a pair of Minor League clubhouses. There is a lecture hall and a classroom used for English language classes and other education. There is even a dining room. At the old building, players ate outside on picnic tables.
"It's little things that people probably didn't even realize," Flanagan said.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.