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Brewers’ Manager Craig Counsell’s message to the team: ‘The word for me has been connection’

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Over the course of eight months and around 190 games, baseball teams become like a family -- like it or not. The Milwaukee Brewers' family is at the beginning of this year's journey, and Craig Counsell is their leader.

Craig Counsell

Counsell he has the guys buying into his program. A big reason for that is his daily message.

Zach Davies

"They're really important because it gets a message across to everybody, and getting everybody to believe in the same central idea," said Zach Davies, Brewers' pitcher.

The messages begin when Counsell walks into the clubhouse around 9:30 a.m. during spring training.

"Counsell just likes to, well before game start, he just likes to point out what we're going to be doing today," said Cory Knebel, Brewers' pitcher.

Corey Knebel

Craig Counsell

But there is normally more to it than just assignments, which piques the interest of Davies.

Craig Counsell

"When you have teams that stray away from a central goal, a central idea, that's when things start to take a turn. When guys are bought into one belief, you go into the year, like our team; we had a lot of fun last year and I know that's just going to carry over to this year," Davies said.

Craig Counsell

Like last season, Counsell tries to keep his daily messages simple, the same way he keeps his overall message on point.

"The core of the message never changes for me. It's never going to change. The word for me has been 'connection,'" said Counsell.

It's clear the team is connected both on the field and maybe more importantly, off of it.

Brent Suter

"We've got a lot of characters and a lot of character too, which is even a more important thing," said Brent Suter, Brewers' pitcher. "Where we've got a bunch of guys with great personalities, who like to be themselves, but we also have a lot of guys who pick each other up. There's a lot of love in that room. So, it's the best of both worlds."

Christian Yelich

Another reason they're connected throughout the organization is because of Counsell's personality, something even the new players -- like Christian Yelich -- are seeing.

"He seems like a very approachable manager, somebody who's in it with you. I'm definitely looking forward to playing for him," said Christian Yelich, Brewers' outfielder.

Yovani Gallardo understands him on a much better level as he's played with him and this spring for him.

"I've always respected him as a player and you know, now as a manager. It's one of those things definitely you could see back when he was playing -- he could manage a team at one point, whenever he wanted to. It shows. It shows the kind of person that he is. You know, he expects things to be done the right way and the proper way," Gallardo said.

Matt Albers

And he has a perspective that speaks to Matt Albers in a unique way.

"It's always great to have a guy who is a former player. He's been through it. He knows what it takes. He's kind of been there. He's been around the game for a long time and he's a local Milwaukee guy, so kind of all that. Can be able to talk about the city, the fans, that kind of thing. Also, his being a player, just all of that just combines for a really good thing," said Mall Albers, Brewers' pitcher.

"The players have taken ownership of it and it's become important to them. It's a reason for some of the good things we've got going today," said Counsell.

Craig Counsell

Those daily messages all go back to his overall message: staying connected. It's what happened last year when they were just a game away from reaching the playoffs.