'Ozzie, Bross and Willy': Old Rays back at The Trop

June 29th, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG -- They used the same entrance to Tropicana Field and needed directions to the visiting clubhouse. But when the Brewers arrived Tuesday to begin a two-game series against the Rays, shortstop and infielder felt right at home.

After hugging nearly every player, staff member, groundskeeper and broadcaster, the ex-Rays acknowledged that it was an emotional return -- which isn't surprising when you consider the memories they helped to create.

Adames, traded to the Brewers for pitchers and , shed tears on May 21, 2021. It was difficult to leave, but Adames suspected the time would come as the Rays prepared for the arrival of phenom Wander Franco.

More than one year later, Adames, the Rays' shortstop from 2018-21, said the trade has proven to be “amazing.’’

“Obviously, it was a tough day when I left,’’ Adames said. “But it has been good for my career. It was a little difficult getting the news. But they have treated me so well in Milwaukee.

“I will always remember the way [the Rays] developed the guys here, and the winning mentality they have here. All those memories are going to be right here [tapping his chest]."

Brosseau, meanwhile, was shipped to the Brewers last November in an offseason deal. Brosseau began as an undrafted fill-in Minor Leaguer, but found his way to the big leagues as a utility infielder. Brosseau had a moment for the ages during the 2020 American League Division Series, when his eighth-inning home run off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman sent the Rays to the ALCS (and ultimately to the World Series).

“It’s really cool to be back,’’ Brosseau said. “This is all I knew before. It’s great to see some old friendly faces and the characters who never change. I’ve had this date circled on my calendar."

Brosseau is from the Chicago area, and the trade brought him closer to his family.

“It was kind of a whirlwind getting traded, but my family was excited about me being closer to home," he said. "It was a great opportunity, but it’s tough to walk away from a place like the Rays. The clubhouse vibes are so great. We had good teams, good games, multiple postseason appearances. I have all the respect in the world for the Rays’ organization.’’

Tuesday’s game also marked the return of Brewers hitting coach Ozzie Timmons, the Rays’ former first-base coach, and pitcher , who was a 2015 AL All-Star with the Rays.

“Ozzie, Bross and Willy … were part of a pretty special period for us,’’ Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “I think the COVID circumstances [of 2020] brought everybody closer together, so it will always be good memories. They played such huge roles throughout that.’’

Brewers manager Craig Counsell said Adames and Brosseau have played valuable roles. Adames, particularly, made an impact last season as the Brewers won the NL Central.

“Last year, it was incredible what Willy did, almost singlehandedly changing the momentum of our team, and quickly,’’ Counsell said. “He loves the game and loves to compete. I don’t know why you wouldn’t like Willy. It turned out to be a productive trade for both teams.

“Mike is as advertised, really good against left-handed pitching. Much like Willy, he loves to play. I know it has to be special for them to be back.’’

Through the sheer force of their personalities, not to mention their accomplishments, Adames and Brosseau will always be beloved in Tampa Bay. Adames, though, made his priorities clear.

“I want to win some games here,’’ Adames said with a laugh. “I love them [Rays], but I want to win some games.’’