PHOENIX -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell said "we've already had a good conversation" with Keon Broxton, the wall-climbing, free-swinging center fielder coming off a 20-homer, 20-stolen base season whose role was clouded by the winter additions of outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich."We just acquired two really good baseball players,"
PHOENIX -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell said "we've already had a good conversation" with Keon Broxton, the wall-climbing, free-swinging center fielder coming off a 20-homer, 20-stolen base season whose role was clouded by the winter additions of outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich.
"We just acquired two really good baseball players," Counsell said. "There's no questioning these guys as far as what they've accomplished and where they're at in their careers. I think from Keon's perspective, you're not happy about it and it doesn't make you feel great, but then you've kind of got a decision to make: How do I approach that?
"Keon is still at a place in his career where he knows improvements have to be made. He's also accomplished a lot, and he's come a long way in the last three years. So it's a little bit of the lens you put on it. As a player, you decide what lenses you put on it.
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"Frankly, I think he's in a good place with it. He understands it. These are really high-caliber players. They do make his road tougher, there's no question. But now it's how you move forward from there. It's happened."
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Broxton's 2017 season was one of extremes. There were lows; Broxton's 37.8 percent strikeout rate was worst in the Majors for a player with more than 155 plate appearances, and he was demoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs in July. But Broxton also made a series of gravity-defying catches in center field while becoming the eighth different 20/20 player in Brewers history. Ryan Braun tops that group with four such seasons.
Broxton was one of nine 20/20 players in MLB, and it's a good list. The others were Jose Altuve, Michael Trout, Mookie Betts, Tommy Pham, Brett Gardner, Elvis Andrus, Andrew Benintendi and William Myers.
Broxton's role this season is dependent on whether the Brewers reach Opening Day with all of the outfielders currently on the team. Besides Cain and Yelich, who will start the bulk of games, that group includes Domingo Santana, Braun and Brett Phillips. Notably, Broxton and Phillips each have at least one Minor League option remaining.
Saying the right things
Also impacted by the Brewers' outfield additions Jesus Aguilar, who is coming off a productive season but finds his playing time in question because Braun is expected to see some time at first base this season. Aguilar shared the position with Eric Thames last year and produced 112 weighted runs created plus in 311 plate appearances. <p<> He said he would do whatever he could to help Braun re-acclimate to the infield. </p<>
"It's about being a good guy all around," Aguilar said. "It's not only me, it's everyone being a good teammate, even if it's just, 'Come on, baby.' That's what we've got to do."
On second glance
Remember that rehab schedue Jimmy Nelson discussed Thursday? The one that Nelson said he hadn't examined in detail but that mapped out a path to his first game back with the Brewers?
Well, after taking a closer look, Nelson called over a reporter on Saturday morning and said it in fact only details his schedule through March 6, at which time all parties involved will evaluate his progress before moving forward. Despite that correction, the spirit of his comments still hold true; Nelson is thinking week to week in his comeback from shoulder surgery instead of looking ahead to a date on the calendar.
With Jonathan Villar's arrival Saturday, Brewers camp was just missing Orlando Arcia and Braun. Position players don't formally report until Monday, and the first full-squad workout is the next day.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.