Eight Brewers experience first Opening Day
MILWAUKEE -- Catcher Jonathan Lucroy has fond memories of last April 6, his first Major League Opening Day. Eight of his teammates were set for the same experience on Monday, when the Brewers opened their 45th season as a franchise against the Rockies at Miller Park.
"Last year was my first Opening Day, because I was hurt the year before that, and it's an amazing experience," Lucroy said. "It's something you'll never forget. It's an honor to put on your uniform and go out there to the foul line for the first time."
The Brewers' Opening Day rookies were starting shortstop Jean Segura, pitchers Mike Fiers, Alfredo Figaro, Jim Henderson and Wily Peralta, catcher Martin Maldonado and outfielders Khris Davis and Logan Schafer. Last year, the Brewers had five players experience their first big league opener: Lucroy, first baseman Mat Gamel, outfielder Norichika Aoki and relievers Tim Dillard and Marco Estrada.
"I didn't know there was eight," manager Ron Roenicke said Monday morning. "I think it can be good, because if we've got a team that we think is very competitive, so if there's eight young guys here, it's telling me that those eight are pretty good. They're people we think very highly of."
Following tradition, Brewers principal owner Mark Attansio's father, Joseph, sang the national anthem. The ceremonial first pitch was delivered by James Beckum, a former Negro Leagues player who founded the Beckum-Stapleton Little League on Milwaukee's near north side in 1964 and has been a fixture in the community.
The famous racing sausages even delivered a ceremonial "first bratwurst," running a relay from the Klement's plant on Chase Ave. to Miller Park.
Roenicke gathered the team at 10 a.m. CT for its final morning meeting, a daily rite of spring that began way back on Feb. 15 when the full squad practiced for the first time. Going forward, they will only meet regularly on the first day of a road trip.
"No matter how many times you do this thing, Opening Day is a little different than all the rest," Roenicke said. "Usually it's because of all of the work you put in to get to this point."