Hunter Renfroe quite comfortable in first camp with Brewers
PHOENIX (AP) — Hunter Renfroe grabbed a chair near his locker in Milwaukee’s clubhouse. Stopping periodically to finish his breakfast, he chatted with Christian Yelich, Corbin Burnes and a few more of his teammates as they joined the crowd at his table.
Yup, Renfroe looks quite comfortable in his first spring training with the Brewers after he was acquired in a Dec. 1 trade with the Boston Red Sox. It helps that Renfroe was already very familiar with several of his new teammates long before the deal was completed.
“I was expecting to go back to Boston. I really was,” Renfroe said Thursday. “I enjoyed my time there. Obviously Alex Cora was incredible to play for, and learned a lot from him that I can move forward in my career and take with me.
“But yeah, I was little bit surprised when it happened, but once I heard that hey, you were traded to the Brewers, I was like ‘Great, that’s where I wanted to be.’”
Milwaukee is happy to have Renfroe, too. The reigning NL Central champions are counting on the 30-year-old Mississippi native to help replace the production that departed when Avisaíl García left for the Marlins and Eduardo Escobar went to the Mets in free agency.
Renfroe, who broke into the majors with San Diego in 2016, hit .259 with 31 homers and a career-high 96 RBIs in his lone season with Boston, helping the Red Sox get to the AL Championship Series. He also had a career-high 16 outfield assists, tied for the major league lead.
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said Renfroe has fit right in, and he marveled at the slugger’s power.
“He could win a home run derby. I mean, it’s easy for him to do it,” Counsell said. “He doesn’t have to put a lot of effort into it and it can go a long way.”
The Brewers acquired Renfroe from the Red Sox for outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and minor league infielders David Hamilton and Alex Binelas.
The move reunited Renfroe with right-hander Brandon Woodruff, a former teammate at Mississippi State. Renfroe also played with Luis Urías, Eric Lauer, Luis Perdomo, Jace Peterson while he was in San Diego’s organization, and he also was teammates with Willy Adames and Mike Brosseau when he played for Tampa Bay during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Woodruff also is a Mississippi native who likes the outdoors — another reason why Renfroe is a natural match for Milwaukee.
“I hope we can find a place for sure to try to do some, getting outdoors, fishing, stuff like that,” Renfroe said.
Renfroe has spent much of his career in right field, but he has been working some at first base during spring training. He played five innings at the position during Wednesday’s 4-2 exhibition loss to San Diego.
Milwaukee has Rowdy Tellez at first after he was acquired in a July trade with Toronto.
“They asked me because I played a little bit of first base with the Rays,” Renfroe said. “Just kind of giving some options. Just kind of a last resort type of deal, if Rowdy’s hurt or something and we may need a righty bat in there.”
While Renfroe could provide another option for Counsell at first, third base could be an issue for the Brewers at the start of the season.
Urías’ recovery from a quad injury is “going slower than expected,” Counsell said, and he will have to play some minor league rehab games before returning to the team.
The 24-year-old Urías set career highs with a .249 batting average, 23 homers and 75 RBIs in 150 games last year.
“Opening day, that’s out. I think that frankly the first homestand is probably very questionable,” Counsell said. “I think we’re hopeful it’ll be somewhere on the second road trip. That’s probably where we’re trending to.”
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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