PHOENIX -- Hank needs a doggie sweater. The Cactus League's most famous canine is moving to a permanent home in Wisconsin.
After winning legions of fans since showing up at Maryvale Baseball Park along with Brewers pitchers and catchers, the stray pup will move north to Milwaukee on Sunday. He will travel on a Southwest Airlines Charter flight with Brewers sponsors, family members and executives, one of whom is adopting Hank and taking him home.
The Brewers have decided to keep the identity of Hank's new mom private, but his arrival at Mitchell International Airport will be a very public event. Dignitaries expected to be on hand include Milwaukee County executive Chris Abele and Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett.
"We want to thank all of those who have made the effort to give Hank the care he needed down here in Arizona, as the top priority has always been to put his health and happiness first," Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger said. "In addition to this being a captivating story, our goal has been to shed more light on the issue of stray and homeless pets, a problem that is not unique to just Arizona and Wisconsin."
To that end, Hank has appeared throughout the spring in a concourse booth at Maryvale Baseball Park, where fans lined up for an opportunity to snap a photo in exchange for a voluntary donation to the Humane Society. The club says Hank has helped raise thousands of dollars in his two weeks of appearances.
The Brewers say they received more than 1,000 offers to adopt Hank since he wandered into camp in rough shape on Feb. 17. A stadium employee took him to a veterinarian for basic care, and in the weeks that followed, Brewers and City of Phoenix staffers, including some players themselves, took turns caring for Hank overnight. He's been featured everywhere from MLB Network to People Magazine to USA Today. This week, Hank the Dog T-shirts went on sale in the team shop.
He's the hit of the Cactus League.
"Don't care if it's silly," D-backs pitcher Brandon McCarthy Tweeted on Friday. "It's a dog and baseball. I like both of those things. Hank the dog is awesome."
Don't care if it's silly. It's a dog and baseball. I like both of those things. Hank the dog is awesome.- Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) March 14, 2014
Now he's set to make new friends up north.
"We are so grateful for the amazing care he has received, and for the way the players and the Brewers organization have used Hank's story to highlight the needs of homeless animals like him," said Wisconsin Humane Society President and CEO Anne Reed. "More than 10,000 animals were adopted from the Wisconsin Humane Society in 2013 and it is that incredible support which makes Southeastern Wisconsin such a kind and compassionate place for animals like Hank."
Brewers, Davis waiting on bat to heat up
PHOENIX -- The Brewers hope one good swing can snap Khris Davis out of his spring slump.
Davis came off the bench in the 10th innings on Friday and ripped a double into the left-field corner, sparking the decisive rally in a 9-8 win over the D-backs at Maryvale Baseball Park. It was his team-leading 32nd at-bat in the Cactus League, and one manager Ron Roenicke hopes will send Davis on a more positive path toward the regular season.
"I'm not saying it will," Roenicke said. "But it can."
Earlier in the day, Roenicke said he had discussed with Davis various ways to help the second-year outfielder get on track. With his rally-starting double, Davis boosted his batting average to .219 (7-for-32) with two extra-base hits, three RBIs, nine strikeouts and zero walks.
"He's still doing a good job in the outfield, so we're going to try to get him more at-bats and see if we can get him locked in," Roenicke said. "We've talked about a couple of things, but I don't see him [pressing]. I don't think we're at the point where I'm going to worry that much. If we're a week from now or more and he's not swinging it, then we need to try to get him going."
Roenicke is still formulating a plan for those extra at-bats, some of which could come in Minor League camp, where the rules are relaxed and Davis could lead off every inning.
After going 0-for-4 with a strikeout on Thursday against the Padres, Davis is batting .194 (6-for-31) with one extra-base hit (a home run), three RBIs, nine strikeouts and zero walks.
Last year, he was not expected to compete for the Opening Day roster but won a job anyway, hitting .262 and leading the team with six home runs and 16 RBIs in spring games. When Ryan Braun was suspended in July, Davis took advantage by hitting .294 with 11 home runs and 27 RBIs in his final 41 games. The Brewers thought enough of Davis that they traded Norichika Aoki over the winter and moved Braun to right field for 2014.
Roenicke insisted he is not concerned.
"We've got three guys [Davis, Logan Schafer and Caleb Gindl] that we're happy with, and if one's hot, they'll just play," Roenicke said. "We're hoping [he shows] what he can do offensively and the power that he brings, but the other guys, we like.
"Schafer is playing really well, and 'Schaf' is a really good Major League player. If he's out there every day, we're good."
Schafer struggled in a bench role last season but entered Friday batting .346 this spring. He is also a superior defender.
"His lines are always really true to the ball," Roenicke said. "He turns his back right away when the ball is hit and he's already in a dead sprint. So he can really play the outfield."
Shortstop Jean Segura has also asked for increased playing time, Roenicke said. Segura skipped winter ball for the first time in his career and is hitting a solid .313 through Friday's game, though 10 of his 11 hits are singles.
Hall of Famer Yount arrives at Crew's camp
PHOENIX -- A Kevin Mattison look-alike arrived in Brewers camp on Friday. He goes by the name of Robin Yount.
One is a non-roster outfielder in Milwaukee's camp and the other is the best player in franchise history and a Hall of Famer. The mustachioed Mattison met his doppelganger when Yount reported for his annual weeklong stint as a camp instructor at Maryvale Baseball Park.
"That name has been thrown at me a couple of times, that that's who I look like," said Mattison, who was returned to Minor League camp on Friday afternoon . "Then I get Rollie Fingers when I wax [the mustache] up."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke had never met Yount before taking the Brewers' helm in 2011. The new manager quickly took a liking to the franchise icon.
"It took me one day to figure out this is an awesome guy," Roenicke said.
Yount won American League MVP Awards as both a shortstop and a center fielder, so he brings versatility to the job. During his camp stints, he mostly works alongside Garth Iorg with Brewers infielders, according to Roenicke.
"We love having him here," Roenicke said. "We like having all the [former players] coming down, but Robin is a little different. A couple of years ago, he spent the whole spring with us, and we like the teaching part of it with him. He gets really involved with what we do. That's why I try to get him here as much as he can. He's a Hall of Famer, but he's [also] a great guy and he really likes to teach."
Two of Yount's former teammates -- Jim Gantner and Gorman Thomas -- are also making appearances this weekend.
• Reliever Francisco Rodriguez limped around the clubhouse and remained sidelined on Friday, still recovering from his barefoot step on a cactus earlier this week. He showed reporters the bottom of his left foot, which is dotted with black specks where spines are still buried.
"I don't know exactly what we're going to do," Roenicke said. "[On Thursday], when he got out to long toss, it didn't feel good on his landing foot. Hopefully [on Saturday] or the next day, we'll see where we are."
• Jason Shawger is the Brewers' "manager of equipment inventory," and it turns out he is also quite good at equipment alterations. He created a cap for Roenicke that includes a fabric flap to protect the back of Roenicke's neck from the blazing Arizona sun. During Spring Training, managers and coaches sit on folding chairs on the field, where they get a better view than is offered in the dugout.
"You feel it just sizzling," Roenicke said. "I had my son and my wife out looking for these [protective flaps], and nobody could find anything."
• The Brewers cut seven players from big league camp and added one following Friday's extra-inning win over Arizona. The team optioned pitchers Michael Fiers and Hiram Burgos and first baseman/outfielder Sean Halton to Triple-A Nashville and returned non-roster pitcher Dustin Molleken, catcher Matt Pagnozzi, utility man Eugenio Velez and outfielder Mattison to Minor League camp.
Pagnozzi was sent down so he could continue working regularly with the pitchers pegged for Triple-A Nashville. To replace him, the team added catcher Lucas May to big league camp.