MILWAUKEE -- It's difficult to think of a Brewers player who rode more dramatic ups and downs in 2018 than Brent Suter (pictured above), who made his first Opening Day roster in March and homered off reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber in May before sustaining an
MILWAUKEE -- It's difficult to think of a Brewers player who rode more dramatic ups and downs in 2018 than Brent Suter (pictured above), who made his first Opening Day roster in March and homered off reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber in May before sustaining an elbow injury in July that required season-ending Tommy John surgery. Suter, one of the most energetic players on the roster, was forced to watch the club's postseason run from the sidelines.
But the year ended with the biggest blessing of all, which Suter talked about during our annual holiday Q&A with a Brewers player:
MLB.com: Here's the question I am sure most fans want asked first: How's rehab going?
Suter: Everything is going really well. I'm feeling really strong. My range of motion has been back now for a month or two, so I'm just working on strength -- making sure that ligament totally sets in. I've been going to rehab three times a week and following the Brewers' strength program. I'll start throwing at the end of January. Everything is right on track.
It's definitely been a mental test, but honestly, I've bought in and fallen in love with the rehab process. I let myself enjoy getting better for now. Mentally, I've been doing really well. It hasn't hurt that I've had a baby this offseason, which has been incredible happiness.
MLB.com: What can you tell us about fatherhood?
Suter: He was born Oct. 26. He faked Erin and I out the whole last week and a half. He was a week late, but he's been perfectly happy; born eight pounds, five ounces. Liam Michael. He's a little ball of joy. You think you know what you're talking about when you say you love someone and you care about their happiness more than your own, and then you have a baby, and it becomes as literal as you've ever felt it. In that way it's broadened my horizons on what life is about.
Meanwhile, he's just sleeping, eating and pooping. [laughs]
MLB.com: You've been busy, too. Your social media followers saw that you hosted a pitching clinic before the holidays, and we're wondering how it went.
Suter: When I was back in the Minors, I gave some lessons and tutoring on the side. But I've really been wanting to get involved in the Urban Youth Academy for years now, and Curtis Granderson got me the contact that really helped me get in the door there. I try to get up there once every week or two to help out, and they said, 'Do you want to have your own clinic?' I thought that would be great.
I handled one of the sessions about the mental side of the game. It was more of a 'skull session' than anything. I had a lot of fun doing it. There was probably close to 100 kids there.
MLB.com: On to the holidays. What was Christmas like for the Suter family while you were growing up?
Suter: On Christmas Eve, we always go to my great uncle and great aunt's house in Cincinnati, and we sing Christmas carols and hang out. It's a fun tradition that gets everyone ready for Christmas morning and our gift exchange, and the big event: A ping-pong tournament. It's been going on since the early 1980s and my great uncle keeps all the stats of winners. It's a big deal. There's no trophy, you just know you go down in the record books.
MLB.com: Have you won?
Suter: I've won it quite a few times. I'm not trying to brag or anything, but I might be tied for the most titles with my grandma. Oh my gosh, she can play. Unfortunately, she has Alzheimer's, so I don't think she's going to make it this year. But she has a ping-pong table in her room, and my dad says she's better than ever before. She's incredible.
MLB.com: What is the best Christmas gift you've ever received?
Suter: The most elated I can remember getting off of a material gift is the Nintendo 64 my brother and I got back in the day. We wanted that so bad. We opened it and went crazy.
MLB.com: And what about the best gift you've ever given?
Suter: That's a really good question. The most expensive one I've given is my wife's engagement ring. I proposed on Dec. 24, so I gave her some scarves as a disguise present, then surprised her with a ring. If you count that as a Christmas gift, that might be it. It was absolutely the most meaningful thing I've given.
MLB.com: If you were buying a gift for a teammate, who would it be and what would you get him?
Suter: I would give Wade Miley a nice water bottle. He gets on me sometimes, like, 'Dude, get that water bottle out of here! Just use a cup!' I think that would be a really funny gift.
MLB.com: This probably requires an explanation. People who haven't seen you toting around a reusable water bottle might not know what you are talking about.
Suter: Hopefully I'm not the only player who does it. Single-use plastics and all the cups we go through during the games are so tough for landfills and on the environment. I try to avoid those when I can. I just use a refillable water bottle. I take it everywhere with me, in the clubhouse and out on the field and in the bullpen. It's always there.
I got involved in Milwaukee with the Urban Ecology Center on some of their hikes and with some of their programs. I fell in love with it. It stands for so many awesome things in terms of connecting adults and kids with nature. There's a lot of cool things that they do.
MLB.com: Favorite Christmas movie?
Suter: Elf. I keep on waiting for it to get old, but every year, I just crack up at that movie.
MLB.com: Favorite Christmas song?
Suter: "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," by the Barenaked Ladies. They did a really cool cover of it.
MLB.com: How about your least favorite Christmas song?
Suter: "I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas." I can't do that voice.
MLB.com: What are your New Year's resolutions?
Suter: I'm going to try to make some kind of donation or effort of time every day. Basically, try to make someone's day every day, even if it's just a nice deed.
From a baseball point of view, it's to come back stronger and better. I want to be a better pitcher overall. Be a better teammate. I'm trying to use experience as not a step back, but an opportunity.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.