Yelich: 'Everybody is in a unique situation'

July 5th, 2020

MILWAUKEE -- was as consistent as they come during his first two years in a Brewers uniform, but you can throw that out when thinking about the 60-game regular season that lies ahead. At least that’s his view on the matter of what to expect in 2020.

“I think this year is unique in the aspect of you just don’t know what you’re going to get from anybody,” Yelich said. “You’re going to see really good players have really bad years. It’s going to happen. Not only position-player-wise, but pitcher-wise. You don’t have that large sample size for everything to even out, so if you get off to a tough start or a bad start, you’re really behind the 8-ball.

“Not only as a player, but if your team gets off to a bad start, if you take that 1-10 start or 2-10, you’re in a tough position because you don’t have the extended period of time to make that up. During a normal season, you’re going to go the 2-10 or 2-8 or 1-9. It’s going to happen. But if it happens this season right off the bat, it’s going to be tough to make up that ground.

“Players, teams, everybody is in a unique situation. It’s going to lend itself to an exciting season and something that players, fans, everybody in the game hasn't really seen.”

The Brewers like what they see when looking at Yelich’s small sample in Milwaukee. In 2018, after coming over in a trade with Miami, he slashed .298/.373/.473 with seven homers through his first 60 games. He did most of his damage in the second half that season on the way to winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award, then returned in '19 and got off to a torrid start, tying a Major League record with a home run in each of the team’s first four games and slashing .313/.425/.719 with 22 home runs through the team's first 60 games (53 for him).

Yelich, who signed a new nine-year contract with the Brewers less than a week before Spring Training was suspended, got back to work for the start of Year 3 on Saturday with the first of Milwaukee’s two-a-day workouts. He took part in the late session on each of the first two days, and he arrived home at 9:30 p.m. CT on Saturday happy to feel that satisfying brand of fatigue a ballplayer feels after a night at the field.

While some players have wrestled with the decision to play in 2020, Yelich said his was an easy call.

“I'm in a different situation than a lot of guys,” he said. “I don't live with family members and I'm not considered ‘high-risk’ myself; I'm not an individual with special health conditions. For me, my outlook is you're going to have guys with different outlooks on this virus. Some will be worried, some aren't, but you have to be respectful of everyone's views and you have to take it upon yourself to take all the precautions, be a good teammate and do the best to your ability. At the end of the day, it's still an unknown; you could do everything right and still come down with the virus and you could miss up to a month. A big part of this season is going to be dealing with the unpredictable, the unknown. We get tested so much -- every other day -- so you could lose one of your guys for an extended period of time.”

Of those who have elected not to participate, Yelich said, “If someone chose not to play on our team, I would definitely support them. I support the guys throughout the league who already have made a decision and chose not to play. I do not think they’re going to be the last ones.”

Here's another unknown: With no fans in the stands, at least to begin the season, where will players look for energy?

“I think it’s going to be through your teammates,” Yelich said. “Every team is in the same boat. We’re all going to need to do that, and the players that are great at self-motivating each other and themselves are going to be the ones who have success.

“Everyone’s talking about a 60-game season as it being a sprint, but I don’t necessarily agree with that. I don’t think it’s a sprint. If you do think about 60 games, it’s almost the second half of the season in a regular year. It’s definitely not a sprint. I think I could classify two weeks as a sprint, maybe even a month. There’s going to be a lengthy period of time when you have to get yourself up, and there will be that middle period of time when you’ve just got to find a way and not make excuses. The teams that are going to be able to do that are the ones that will be successful.”

Yelich returned to work with a more familiar look after sporting a rather serious mustache for much of the shutdown. He recently retired the look.

"I came off the beach one day and took a shower, looked in the mirror, saw it, and you know, 'It's time. Shave it,’” he said. “That's exactly how it went down. Just that quick."