After 16 years in the major leagues and retiring after the 2011 season, Craig Counsell is back in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform. After the team’s worst start in club history, Counsell was hired in May to replace Ron Roenicke, who was fired 25 games into the 2015 season.
Counsell sees things beginning to turn around this season. He cites the consistency of the bullpen as the greatest strength for the team at this point. With weaknesses exposed in offense and starting pitching, 2015 looks to be a rebuilding year.
"We knew we didn't have depth this year," says Counsell. "So when we have had injuries, they have really stung us in terms of the drop off in production."
With baseball's grueling schedule, Counsell says games sometimes fill the role practices would in a sport like football. Counsell tries to find new ways to get through to the players and motivate them to be the best versions of themselves. He stresses the importance of concentration over practice.
"It's not as much about intelligence as it is about concentration," says Counsell. "To me, it's always been more about concentration, and who can take their concentration and apply it to the physical activity on the field."
Craig Counsell’s playing career started and ended in Milwaukee. It started when he was a kid, and his dad worked for the Brewers.
"I spent as much time as I could (at County Stadium).. I loved being here," Counsell says. "I loved being able to come down to the clubhouse. It was a real treat for me when (my dad) had to talk to the players or had business down here. I would follow him down (to the clubhouse) and soak up everything I could."
Counsell played ball at Whitefish Bay High School before going on to Notre Dame and then a major league career with five teams.
He says his time spent with his dad at County Stadium helped him when he got to the big leagues because he knew what to expect and how to act.
When looking back at his baseball career, Counsell says, "I was in the right spot at the right time often - part of it is fortune and part of it is you work hard to create those situations...You look back on it and you are thankful."
He says he plans on sticking around Milwaukee for a while, having signed a three year contract with the Brewers.
Counsell lives in Whitefish Bay with his wife and four young children.
“I think Milwaukee is a great place to grow up. It’s an easy place to be a kid,” Counsell says. “You walk everywhere or ride your bike everywhere, you don’t lock your doors, you come home when it’s dark kind of place. It’s still like that.”