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Counsell to Crew: Pack for 10-day road trip

Brewers prepare for uncertain future with regular season down to the wire
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell has been part of enough playoff pushes to understand his team's long odds, but he nonetheless gave simple instructions as players prepared for their final road trip of the regular season.

"I told the guys [Wednesday] night to pack for 10 days," Counsell said. "That's what we have to plan on. 'Pack for 10 days, or you can pack for three and run out of clothes. I don't care, but we are going to be gone for 10 days.'"

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MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell has been part of enough playoff pushes to understand his team's long odds, but he nonetheless gave simple instructions as players prepared for their final road trip of the regular season.

"I told the guys [Wednesday] night to pack for 10 days," Counsell said. "That's what we have to plan on. 'Pack for 10 days, or you can pack for three and run out of clothes. I don't care, but we are going to be gone for 10 days.'"

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Only three of those days are guaranteed. The Brewers finish their regular-season slate with three games at Busch Stadium against the Cardinals beginning Friday night, when, thanks to a 4-3 win over the Reds on Thursday afternoon, Milwaukee will be two games behind the Rockies in the chase for the National League's second Wild Card spot with three to play.

The Rockies, who were idle on Thursday, finish their regular season at home against the Dodgers, so the Brewers need help. But if the teams are tied for the Wild Card come Sunday night, the Brewers would travel to Denver for regular-season game No. 163 on Monday at Coors Field.

Video: CIN@MIL: Counsell on fighting for a playoff spot

Win that, and they would go on to Phoenix for the NL Wild Card Game on Wednesday.

Win that, and the Brewers would continue to Los Angeles for the NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile starting Friday, Oct. 6.

Improbable? Yes. But the way Counsell sees it, this entire Brewers season has been improbable.

"You don't get these opportunities every year in your career as a player," Counsell said. "You think you might. When you get one your first year you think you are going to have it every year. You don't get these every year. You value them.

"Really we're in no different of a spot then where we've been all season. We're in the same spot. I feel like we've thrived in this position all year, so why not now?"

Do players still honestly believe the Brewers have a chance?

"I haven't had one player ask about traveling home on Sunday, which is very rare," said longtime Brewers director of team travel Dan Larrea. "Not one guy."

Video: CIN@MIL: Phillips laces an RBI double to the wall

Larrea has been busy for weeks laying groundwork for a slew of potential postseason scenarios. As of Thursday, the Brewers had hotel rooms waiting for them in Denver and Phoenix should the need arise. Los Angeles is proving a bit tricky, but players will not have to camp in owner Mark Attanasio's backyard; Larrea assured they will have rooms somewhere.

And hotels are just the start of moving a Major League team around the country. There were charter flights and buses and equipment trucks to arrange, too.

"You have to plan for 10 days, but my mindset is actually to take each day as it comes," said Larrea, who has been doing this for the Brewers for more than two decades. "You have to have a framework. You're building the structure of the house without putting the roof on it.

"You want to be challenged by these things. My counterpart with the Twins put on Facebook all of the celebration photos from their [American League Wild Card] clinch. It's fun to see that. We like being in that position."

As of Thursday morning, FanGraphs pegged the Brewers' postseason odds at 3.6 percent. Baseball Prospectus was more bullish, putting the probability at 4.1 percent.

"We're baseball players. We're not math guys," Counsell said.

They do have left-hander Brent Suter, who went to Harvard.

"I saw something like the odds are 90-something percent for the Rockies to go to the postseason, but you never know," Suter said. "I like our chances because we've got a team that fights, and we're going to hopefully go to the last out of the last game with a chance to win this thing and get to the postseason. I'm very excited."

Video: CIN@MIL: Suter strikes out Kivlehan in the 1st

Suter spoke to reporters surrounded by duffel bags packed with gray and navy blue uniforms, while rookies dressed in brightly colored costumes of video game characters.

In this case, that tradition had a practical benefit. One fewer change of clothes to dirty.

"Counsell said it best earlier when he said, 'Pack for a 10-day road trip because if you don't, you're going to be wearing the same clothes over and over again,'" said outfielder Brett Phillips, dressed as "Toad" from the Nintendo series of games, complete with a spotted mushroom cap.

Would he be willing to wear it again on a long trip?

"I hope not," Phillips said with a laugh. "This is getting really hot, and I've only been in it for two minutes."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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