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Crew hires coaches Murphy (bench), Johnson (pitching)

Milwaukee also brings back Tunnell to oversee bullpen

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers formally hired Pat Murphy as bench coach and Derek Johnson as pitching coach on Monday and said Lee Tunnell would return for a fourth season as bullpen coach.

The additions of Murphy and Johnson had been previously reported. But Tunnell's return represented something of a surprise, since he was among the five Brewers coaches whose contracts were not renewed after the season.

"We felt as though the pitching coach needed to be involved in the hiring of the bullpen coach, that there needed to be a strong relationship there," general manager David Stearns said. "Once we hired [Johnson], we went through the process along with a couple of other candidates, and we all felt very comfortable with Lee."

In 2015, Milwaukee's bullpen led the National League in strikeouts (548) and ranked fifth in ERA (3.40) and fifth in opponents' batting average (.238).

Tunnell will pair with Johnson, 44, who spent the past three seasons as the Cubs' Minor League pitching coordinator after 11 years as pitching coach at Vanderbilt University, where he helped six players develop into first-round Draft picks -- including David Price, the No. 1 overall pick in 2007.

Johnson had no previous connection to the Brewers, Counsell or Stearns.

"What he did at Vanderbilt gained the respect of our industry," Stearns said. "It led to a very unique opportunity to jump to the Cubs' organization. I had not crossed paths with him previously, but [by reputation] and through references, he quickly emerged as a very strong candidate."

If Johnson was an unknown, Murphy, 56, was the opposite. He was Counsell's college coach at Notre Dame from 1989-92, and the two have remained so close that when Counsell took over in Milwaukee on May 3, the Brewers asked permission of the Padres to hire Murphy, who was managing San Diego's Triple-A affiliate. The Padres declined, because they already had plans to elevate Murphy to interim manager at the Major League level after dismissing Bud Black on June 16.

Video: Murphy recalls coaching Counsell back in college

When the Padres opted not to retain Murphy at season's end, it was regarded as inevitable he would wind up on Counsell's staff in Milwaukee.

"We've had a 25-year baseball conversation," Counsell said. "He's shown a great ability to impact people. I've seen him impact players in college, in professional baseball and in the big leagues. I feel really lucky to be able to get him here."

The Brewers dismissed the entire coaching staff after the season except for hitting coach Darnell Coles and third-base coach Ed Sedar. In the wake of Monday's hires, the team has two vacancies; first base, and assistant hitting coach or "extra" coach. Stearns said the team was still reviewing options for those posts.

In general, they are interested in good teachers.

"I think we recognize that we're going to have a young roster, whether that's this year, next year, the year after," Stearns said. "We're going to have a young group of core players for the foreseeable future, and we want to make sure that we surrounded them with members of a staff who are used to and comfortable with working with younger players."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.
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