Brewers trio finds slice of home on the road

June 3rd, 2023

This story was excerpted from Adam McCalvy’s Brewers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CINCINNATI -- This is a road trip down memory lane for three Brewers hitters. 

homered on Friday night in his return to Cincinnati, where he played college baseball for the Bearcats while was just getting established in the big leagues. And before this stop, the Brewers were in Toronto, where ’s good memories begin with his good looks. 

“I had hair when I played here last,” Tellez joked.

For Winker, the Brewers-Reds series is a tad bittersweet. He’s happy in Milwaukee after a tough 2022 season in Seattle, but he landed on the injured list earlier this week with a cervical strain. He underwent surgery last fall to replace a damaged disc in his neck.

Winker said he still has a number of "boxes to check” before he plays again. He has a .546 OPS through 127 plate appearances and is still seeking his first Brewers home run. 

“I wish I was playing,” Winker told a group of Cincinnati reporters in the dugout Friday afternoon. "It feels cool to be back. It’s a good place. I’ve said it before and will say it a million times: This city holds a special place in my heart. It always will. It’s cool to be back. I don’t really remember going into the visiting clubhouse as a Red. Experiencing this for the first time is pretty cool.”

He added, “Every time I come to Cincinnati, I smile. I’ll never have any ill feelings toward this city. It treated me too well. It gave me a beautiful daughter. Why am I going to be upset coming back?” 

Wiemer sounded strikingly similar while talking about his return to Cincinnati. He played at the University of Cincinnati from 2018-20 before the Brewers made him their fourth-round Draft pick in ‘20. He had a group of friends at Friday’s extra-inning win over the Reds. 

“I love this place,” Wiemer said. “I’ve been looking forward to this for a couple of weeks now.” 

How did he grow in this city?

“I would say I grew way more as a person here, not that I didn’t grow as a ballplayer,” Wiemer said. “Just getting out of the house, living on your own with buddies. The experience I had here, there’s nothing I would trade for it. I would do it again 100 times.”

Then there’s Tellez, who had his priorities set in his first return to Toronto since 2019.

“I went to my favorite steakhouse already,” Tellez said with a grin from the visitors’ dugout at Rogers Centre ahead of the Brewers’ series opener against the Blue Jays on Tuesday. “It's a special moment to be back. A lot of memories are here. I was just a young kid when I came up here, so this is super, super special.”

Tellez, who was selected by the Blue Jays in the 30th round of the 2013 MLB Draft, was traded to the Brewers in July '21. He hadn’t been in his former home ballpark in four years, though, since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Blue Jays to move to Buffalo in '20. By the time the club could play its home games north of the border again, Tellez was in Milwaukee.

The first baseman spent over six years in the Blue Jays’ Minor League system and three and a half seasons with the big league club. That was enough time to build some long-lasting relationships, and Tellez still keeps in touch with several of his former teammates. Last year, he officiated the wedding of catcher Danny Jansen.

“I do stay in touch with these guys; they were a big part of my life,” said Tellez. “We've spent so much time together all those years. So it's emotional to be back here.”

Tellez has found plenty of good memories in Milwaukee, too. The left-handed hitter has hit 54 homers with 143 RBIs since joining the Brewers, far surpassing his numbers with the Blue Jays, where he had to split time at first base with All-Star slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

He didn’t get a hit in his old ballpark until his last at-bat of the series, but it was worth the wait. Tellez launched a hanging slider off former teammate Jordan Romano, which Kevin Kiermaier bobbled in right-center field as the slugger reached safely with a triple in the ninth inning of Thursday's finale.

It was an emotional week, but Tellez was grateful to take questions from the visitors’ dugout.

“Both sides are happy,” he said. “It’s just nice to be back here.”