MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Brewers pitchers and catchers report for spring training in less than three weeks! Sunday, fans had a chance to meet the team, as nearly 30 current Milwaukee Brewers players plus a host of alumni, Minor League prospects, coaches, and broadcasters took part in Brewers On Deck at the Frontier Airlines Center from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Sunday.
Brewers On Deck features a number of activities for the entire family. Autographs and photos from Brewers players and coaches, the always popular “Game Shows” featuring Brewers players and prospects, interactive games, question and answer sessions with players and staff, vendor booths with baseball memorabilia, the Brewers Community Foundation Treasure Hunt and many other activities were available.
After a division title, and a trip to the National League Championship series this past season, many Brewers fans were in high spirits Sunday, in anticipation of the new season. "The team this year, I have no doubt they're going to be as good as last year, especially because the central division has no real contenders, which is great for us," Andrew Schuld said.
Some talked Sunday about how the new players will contribute to the team. The Brewers recently signed outfielder Norichika Aoki to a two-year contract. Aoki is a three-time Japanese batting champion. "Aoki signing was nice. That was a good one, especially for a guy that can hit. Slapping the ball around is what we need," Justin Nuoffer said.
Others discussed the addition of first baseman Mat Gamel, after Prince Fielder signed a nine-year contract with the Detroit Tigers last week. "I'm glad Gamel is getting a fair shot now. He's been up and down for awhile. It's about time he gets in there, and healthy and ready to go," Schuld said.
Another newbie joining the Brewers roster this season is third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who comes to Milwaukee from the Chicago Cubs. "I didn't like him as a Cub, but now I can, so that's great!" one fan said. Bobby McNeill was first in line to get Ramirez's autograph Sunday, and says he sees big things happening with the new third baseman. "We needed a third baseman, and we got him, so we're going to go all the way this year!" McNeill said.
Overall, fans are hoping for another great season from the Brewers, even with Fielder gone, and Brewers slugger Ryan Braun facing a possible 50 game suspension after testing positive for a banned substance. The story may be Fielder and Braun, but for other fans, it's all about the new faces and all of the optimism and potential that they bring to the Brewers organization.