Macha tells himself to 'chill out'
Brewers manager moves on after tough spring game
PHOENIX -- On the bus ride back to Maryvale Baseball Park after an ugly loss to the Cubs on Thursday, Brewers skipper Ken Macha was hot. And it had nothing to do with the above-average temperatures in the Valley of the Sun.In the 7-4 loss, Macha figures his team spotted the Cubs 14 baserunners, 11 on walks and three more on defensive misplays, including two errors. And he was not thrilled with at least two baserunning plays, including one in the first inning that ended with J.J. Hardy out at the plate. So Macha stewed on that bus ride. By the cool of Friday morning, watching his team stretch before a game against the A's, he had settled himself.
"I needed to check myself," Macha said. "It was only the second Spring Training game. ... I got up this morning and said to myself, 'It's still February. Chill out a little bit.'"Macha was feeling better by Friday afternoon, when his team pinned down an 8-5 win over the A's. It was Macha's first win for his new team -- an exhibition win, but a win nonetheless -- and it came against his former team. "A little better than yesterday," Macha said on the field after the A's made their final out. "We only had one walk and a hit batsman. We had one error and only one baserunning mistake. So everything went down. That's an improvement." He had plenty of positives to point to. Starter Manny Parra and relievers Mark DiFelice and Omar Aguilar combined for five scoreless innings to start the game. Craig Counsell, with his new batting stance that has his hands dramatically lower than in past seasons, had two more hits and is batting .833 in the Cactus League. Corey Hart drove in another run, and shortstop Alcides Escobar woke a sleepy crowd in the eighth inning when he fielded a grounder up the middle, spun and fired a fastball to first base for the final out. But there still were nits to pick. Minor Leaguer Cutter Dykstra nearly missed his at-bat in the seventh inning because he wasn't sure of the batting order, though he redeemed himself by knocking an RBI double without any batting gloves. Brewers pitchers combined to surrender five A's runs over the final four innings, three charged to Chase Wright in the final two frames of what Macha characterized as a subpar outing. "The greatest virtue of a manager is patience," said bench coach Willie Randolph, who spent the last four seasons managing the Mets. "But still, no matter what date it is, you want players to play smart and fundamentally sound. "But, you know, whether it's Spring Training or not, there are certain things that [get managers upset] once in a while. There's nothing you can do about that. You just have to get that frustration out and get back the next day." Macha said he got the same advice about being patient from Chuck Tanner, the legendary former manager who was Macha's skipper in Pittsburgh in 1977-78. (Trivia time: Tanner began his Major League playing career with the Milwaukee Braves and hit a home run in his first career at-bat on April 12, 1955, marking the only Braves player to accomplish that feat in Milwaukee).
|"I needed to check myself. It was only the second Spring Training game. ... I got up this morning and said to myself, 'It's still February. Chill out a little bit."|
-- Brewers manager|
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.