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Yelich, Brinson see familiar faces in Milwaukee

Outfielders involved in January trade adjusting to new clubs
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- The trio of former Marlins teammates braved an April snowstorm to meet at Milwaukee's downtown Capital Grille. Wednesday's dinner was the first reunion of Christian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto and Justin Bour since the blockbuster trade that sent Yelich to the Brewers in January.

A few blocks away, Lewis Brinson looked out his hotel room window. Brinson, one of the Brewers prospects who went the other direction in that deal, had people to see, too. But he decided to wait a day.

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MILWAUKEE -- The trio of former Marlins teammates braved an April snowstorm to meet at Milwaukee's downtown Capital Grille. Wednesday's dinner was the first reunion of Christian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto and Justin Bour since the blockbuster trade that sent Yelich to the Brewers in January.

A few blocks away, Lewis Brinson looked out his hotel room window. Brinson, one of the Brewers prospects who went the other direction in that deal, had people to see, too. But he decided to wait a day.

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"I wasn't going nowhere last night," Brinson said with a laugh.

There were handshakes and hugs for both players on Thursday, when the Brewers and Marlins met under the dome at Miller Park for the start of a four-game series.

It's too early to analyze the trade, in part because the Marlins made the deal with the future in mind, and because this season has not begun the way Yelich nor Brinson would have liked. Brinson, who spent a season and a half as the Brewers' top prospect and made his Major League debut for Milwaukee last June, entered his homecoming in a 1-for-36 funk. Yelich has spent most of his first three weeks of his regular-season Brewers tenure on the disabled list with a right oblique injury.

• Marlins' Top 30 prospects

Yelich returned to Milwaukee's lineup on Wednesday against the Reds, boosting his early-season on-base percentage to .452 with a hit and a pair of walks while making a circus catch in his first start in center field for the Brewers. A day later, he spent time amid a gaggle of Marlins stretching on the field while Milwaukee finished batting practice.

"I'm obviously close with some of the guys over there," Yelich said. "We've been through some stuff. But I don't see it being any different or feeling any different during the games. It will be business as usual."

Video: Yelich discusses on his return to the Brewers' lineup

The Marlins are catching the Brewers on the back end of a spate of injuries. Yelich's oblique was the biggest setback so far, but Eric Thames (groin), Ryan Braun (back) and primary catcher Manny Pina have also missed games for a team that entered the series 26th in the Majors with 3.37 runs per game. Pina will miss the series, but Thames and Yelich are back and Braun is getting close, having taken batting practice on Thursday.

"It's been tough on us with injuries," Yelich said. "That's part of baseball season. It's going to happen. It just happened for us out of the gate. But I think we did a good job of being able to weather it and getting through it as best we could."

Brinson is also getting through it, and he took a big step forward on Thursday. After not starting either of the Marlins' games on Monday and Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, Brinson hit a pair of home runs to center field off Brewers starter Chase Anderson in his first two at-bats of the series opener.

Video: MIA@MIL: Statcast™ measures Brinson's first Marlins HR

"Obviously, I was over there last year, and now, I'm with a different team," Brinson said before the game. "Same mindset, kind of thing. Go out there, play hard, play my game. Get it going a little bit and help my team win.

"It's going to be good playing against some guys I played with last year, but at the same time, when you step between those lines, it's time to battle. I look forward to that."

Video: MIA@MIL: Lewis Brinson discusses his recent struggles

Even with Brinson's struggles, the Marlins are giving their top prospect every chance to succeed without being optioned to the Minors.

Last Friday, before the Marlins faced the Mets in Miami, Derek Jeter, the team's chief executive officer, watched batting practice from the field. Brinson spoke briefly with Jeter.

"Just keep swinging. It will come," Brinson said Jeter told him. "'There's a reason why you're up here' type of conversation. He has total confidence in me, and obviously, a great guy to talk to. Him being the figure he is, just to have him around, around the cage and speaking to us, and being very open about everything, it means a lot. His words are very encouraging. He told me to keep swinging."

While Brinson works on adjustments with Miami, Yelich is making them in snowy Milwaukee.

"It's been a little different from Miami or Southern California, where I grew up," Yelich said. "But it's been a fun and unique experience. People are saying it doesn't usually snow this much this time of year. Luckily, we have the dome."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins, Lewis Brinson, Christian Yelich