Counsell surprises Crew with families on Zoom

MLB Network to celebrate Uecker on Tuesday; Burnes impressing at camp

July 6th, 2020

MILWAUKEE -- Brock Holt called it a “cool surprise” on Saturday when Craig Counsell invited players’ families to attend the Brewers’ first formal workout of Summer Camp.

Virtually, of course.

Counsell enlisted the help of several players’ wives in setting up a Zoom session on Miller Park’s giant video board. There was a technical glitch or two with the audio, but the gesture was what mattered to players like Holt, who’d expressed in a social media post last week the mixed emotions he felt leaving his pregnant wife, Lakyn, and their young son to attempt a 60-game season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our scoreboard people did a great job in just putting together the call and kind of the technical part of it,” Counsell said. “The purpose of the call was to really highlight not only are we as a team connected, all of our families are part of this as well, and more than ever before, we are all making sacrifices together, right? Everybody on that scoreboard is part of this group right now, and we’re going to ask them to make sacrifices as well.

“Then, for the players, it was just a great visual for them to understand this is why our sacrifices with our modified behavior around each other, modified behavior away from the field, is so important. It’s critical to maintain it. I just thought it was a way to reinforce that point and also a way for the families to understand they’re a huge part of helping us get through this as well.”

The gesture hit the mark, said pitcher Brent Suter.

“I saw a few guys tearing up -- I teared up a little bit,” Suter said. "That was a great move by Counsell, and the wives did a great job keeping it under wraps. It was such a cool, touching moment. It kind of reinforced why we're here and doing all these things to keep each other safe, because it's about our families as well. It meant a lot to a lot of guys and it reinforced the connection between everyone in the organization.”

Mr. Baseball gets his day
Tuesday amounts to Bob Uecker Day on MLB Network, leading up to the next installment of the new series “The Sounds of Baseball” at 6 p.m. CT. MLB Network’s Bob Costas and Tom Verducci will look back at some of the greatest moments and calls from Uecker’s legendary career, including rarely-seen footage of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's RBI record on May 1, 1975, and the more familiar image of Robin Yount recording his 3,000th career hit on Sept. 9, 1992. The one-hour program also features Costas and Verducci sharing anecdotes, personal stories and their thoughts on the impact Uecker has had on the game and generations of fans.

That program culminates a daylong celebration of Uecker, who told that he intends to be in the booth for 2020 home games in what will be his 50th season calling games for his hometown team. MLB Network’s coverage begins at 8 a.m. CT with the documentary Mr. Baseball, Bob Uecker and continues with some of his national broadcast work: Game 6 of the 1995 World Series between the Braves and Indians at 9 a.m. CT. Then comes a memorable Brewers broadcast at 12 p.m. CT from July 11, 2014, against the Cardinals, when Uecker joined Costas in the booth.

The Uecker broadcasts were originally scheduled for Monday, but they were pushed a day to accommodate MLB’s schedule announcement.

“I’ve stayed in touch with Uke pretty often throughout the last few months. We all love him,” said Ryan Braun. “He represents everything that’s good about our game, our city, our team. He’s just such a special human and I do think that for fans, being able to hear his voice on a daily basis will be one sense of normalcy in an otherwise drastically different season. So we’re excited for the fact that he’ll have an opportunity to be here.”

Burnes picks back up
One of the most impressive Brewers pitchers in Spring Training was Corbin Burnes, who spent the offseason honing both his arsenal and his mental skills in the wake of an 8.82 ERA in 32 big league games last season. A question at Summer Camp is how players like Burnes, who were in a good spot, were impacted by the three-month pause due to the coronavirus pandemic. His first live batting practice was scheduled for Monday.

“I was kind of fortunate enough to be in Arizona, so I had the access to the complex facility,” Burnes said. “Outside of maybe a week or two shut down with all the cleaning, there was about a group of about 10 of us that were able to get in there pretty much every day. We were able to work out, play catch. The last couple months we were actually throwing to live hitters and regular [bullpen sessions], so it made it not quite as difficult. Definitely, when you're not getting game action it's tough to stay sharp, but we were doing what we couldn't there with live hitters and regular workouts to try to maintain what we could.”

Burnes said the experience was a good preview of some of the protocols now in place at Miller Park. Players were subject to daily temperature checks, and workouts were scheduled in an effort to encourage social distancing.

Last call
• “The first two days, the most exciting guy to see throw was Corey Knebel,” said Counsell, referring to the former All-Star reliever coming back from Tommy John surgery. “He threw the first day of camp and it was just great to see him out there on the mound. It was a good day for him. Everything went great and he recovered great [Sunday].”

• The Brewers have more live batting-practice sessions scheduled Monday and Tuesday before staging their first situational scrimmage on Wednesday. Those “games” will be a controlled combination of practice and game action.