Nelson raring to get started as Brewers report

Righty's return to action after missing 2018 one of key narratives as Crew arrives for camp

February 13th, 2019

PHOENIX -- Brewers pitchers and catchers formally reported for Spring Training on Wednesday. Is there anyone more eager than to see 2019 off and running?

All eyes will be on Nelson this spring as he aims to get back on a Major League mound. His last big league pitch was in September 2017, the day the right-hander suffered a major shoulder injury diving back to first base at Wrigley Field. The ensuing rehab forced him to sit out the Brewers' run to the National League Championship Series last year, which would have been painful for anyone, but was especially so for the always-in-motion Nelson.

While the Brewers at large try to repeat last season's success and take one more step to the World Series, Nelson is aiming to join the fun. Tuesday offered something of a head start, when Nelson threw his first bullpen session in a full uniform at American Family Fields of Phoenix. It was a 45-pitch effort with no setbacks. Afterward, his catcher, , gave a hug.

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Nelson took a philosophical approach.

"Our plans don't really matter," he said.

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"Every person that has a plan for how they want things to go, it doesn't matter," he said. "You just have to keep taking care of your business day by day. I heard a quote that was really cool from Eric Thomas, the motivational guy: 'The dream is not your business. The process is.'

"If you focus on the process, the dream will take care of itself. That's what I've been trying to do, and I feel confident with where I'm at and the work that I've put in. I know there's nothing else I could have done, so I have no regrets about it."

He stops and smiles, because he happens to be wearing a gray T-shirt with the sleeves cut off that says, "No regrets" in yellow script.

"I have a lot different perspective on a lot of things," Nelson said. "I've been through a lot, on and off the field."

He shared the off-the-field matter late last month, when Nelson posted on Instagram about the complications of his wife Melissa's pregnancy with twins. She received treatment for twin to twin transfusion syndrome, a condition that causes decreased blood and nutrient flow to one of the twins. The Nelsons were told that it carries at 95 percent mortality rate if left untreated.

There is a chance of further treatments ahead, and the babies remain at risk. Melissa Nelson is home in Houston, where she has received tremendous care so far, Nelson said.

Nelson receives daily updates via calls and texts, and he will spend the spring trying to find a work-life balance. With so much at stake in both places, it will be a challenge, Nelson acknowledged.

"When I'm at the field, I try to leave my home stuff at home. Just like when I'm at home, I try to leave my field stuff at the field," he said. "I know everybody cares and is asking about it, but it can be tough sometimes when you just want to come here and play baseball. There's still some stuff that's up in the air. We're not through the woods yet. Still stressful and anxious."

The Brewers expected 100 percent attendance from pitchers and catchers, and likewise on Monday when position players formally report to camp, said president of baseball operations David Stearns, who knew of no travel or work visa issues for players.

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The Brewers' first full-squad workout at their renovated spring home is Tuesday. Their first Cactus League game is Feb. 23 at the Cubs. The Brewers' first home game is Feb. 26 against the Padres.

Only one player will be significantly limited by a medical matter: left-hander , who is in the very early stages of a throwing program following Tommy John surgery last July 31. Another notable player coming back from injury, infield prospect , has no restrictions in camp. He had surgery early last season to repair a torn left ACL.

"I don't anticipate anyone being 'unable,'" Stearns said. "As far as limited, look, we are going to be cautious with Jimmy. Jimmy probably doesn't want to hear that. He's going to push this as fast as he can. But we're going to make sure [he progresses at the right pace]."

While the offseason might have felt long to players like Nelson and Dubon mounting comebacks, it was shortened for others by the Brewers' deep run into the postseason.

"You don't mind that at all," said reliever . "I did plenty of vacations. You make the best you can with the time that you have with your family. It came kind of quick, but we're ready to go."