Notes: Negro Leagues tribute; Burnes to start

August 16th, 2020

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers joined Major League Baseball’s Sunday celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues, as players from all 30 clubs wore uniform patches marking the founding of an institution that changed the face of the sport.

“For anybody involved in baseball, a must thing to do when you travel to Kansas City is visit the [Negro Leagues Baseball Museum]. Once you experience that, you understand that celebrating the Negro Leagues and this anniversary is an absolute must,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “It's a very important part of baseball history. It was a great and unique game that really helped us create this game.

“It's cool that Major League Baseball and the Players Association have gotten together to celebrate this because it's not just a footnote in history -- it’s a central part of the history of the game of baseball.”

In February, MLB and the MLB Players Association made a joint donation of $1 million to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to help raise awareness of the impact that the Negro Leagues and its players had on the sport and society. The donation helped support the development of digital content for two exhibits to celebrate the connection between the Negro Leagues and Spanish-speaking countries around the world, and to chronicle the pioneering players from all leagues who broke color barriers in baseball, including Jackie Robinson.

To mark the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro National League, MLB.com launched a section dedicated to that history at MLB.com/negroleagues.

“The history of the Negro Leagues is something that should never be counted out,” Brewers reliever Brent Suter said. “It was a stained time in our history when African Americans weren’t allowed to play in MLB, but the quality of baseball and the quality of people they had in those leagues was just legendary. I’ve been fortunate enough to talk with some people who played in the Negro Leagues, and the stories they have to tell, and taking you back to that time, it’s incredible. The history of this game is in big part due to the Negro Leagues. I love that this day is being celebrated.”

Related

Burnes rejoins rotation
After making his last three appearances in relief as the second half of a tandem with left-hander Brett Anderson, Brewers righty will rejoin the starting rotation on Tuesday at Minnesota.

Burnes is taking the spot that opened when the Brewers optioned left-hander Eric Lauer to the alternate training site following a pair of poor starts. Burnes opened the season in the rotation, allowing a run on two hits with six strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings at the Cubs in the Brewers’ second game, then he shifted to the bullpen when Anderson and Lauer returned from the 10-day injured list.

“You know, it’s going to be just another outing for me,” Burnes said. “I’ve gone multiple innings every outing I’ve been out there, so the thing for this one is now it’s going to be a little more of a set routine, a little more consistency. I was already on the five-day routine. Now I know I’m going in for the first inning.”

Overall, Burnes has a 3.38 ERA and 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings in his first four appearances spanning 16 innings.

He’ll be followed in the three-game series against the Twins by Anderson on Wednesday and Brandon Woodruff on Sunday.

“He's handled a great -- mentally, physically,” said Suter, who has bounced between starting and relief work himself. “I mean, his arm just works. He can warm up quick in the bullpen when he's out there, and then when starting, he has a really good routine going. Mentally, he's a very strong mental kid. Really good to see him adjusting on the fly like he has been.”

Seeking change
Count Suter among the Brewers' pitchers who have tried their hand at adopting Devin Williams’ devastating changeup, which has quickly soared to the top of the nastiest offerings on the team. Besides using consistent arm speed, the secret to any good changeup, Williams said his difference-maker is the way he is able to pronate his wrist when releasing the baseball.

Suter and others are working on it. Sometimes, he and Williams use a trailing tool from CleanFuego, a disc-like ball that resembles a hockey puck with rounded edges, which helps pitchers develop the proper spin on pitchers like curveballs and changeups.

“He just has this hockey-puck spin every time, and I've got this wobbler that's not any good,” Suter said. “But I'm still working with him. He's been great. He's been so helpful with everything. If I could get half as good as his changeup one day ... because his is nasty.”

It’s a tricky pitch to learn.

“It's been one of those pitches this year where I feel like I have it and then it goes away,” Suter said. “Watching him, how he just turns it over and trying to replicate it, it's so against what my body wants to do naturally, which is kind of cut it [the opposite] way. He just -- it's almost like a screwball, how much it spins the other way.”

Garcia added to player pool
The Brewers have added infielder Eduardo Garcia -- their No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- to the 60-man player pool and assigned him to the alternate training site in Appleton, Wis. Garcia signed with the Brewers for $1.1 million in 2018 and played last year in the Dominican Summer League.

Given his young age (18) and inexperience, Garcia is extremely unlikely to play in the Major Leagues this year. But the Brewers and other teams included some young prospects in their player pools for a couple of reasons; to avoid losing an entire year of development due to the coronavirus pandemic, and to position teams to consider trades, since only players in 60-man player pools can be traded in 2020. This year’s Trade Deadline is Aug. 31.