Johnson tries to keep his message to Brewers simple
PHOENIX (AP) New Milwaukee Brewers pitching coach Derek Johnson wants to keep his message simple.
''We have more information that we've ever had before, and it's trying to filter that information into something that's made sense on the field, something that is individualized to each guy,'' Johnson said. ''That may be more important than anything else we do.''
Johnson spent 11 years as Vanderbilt's pitching coach, molding young stars such as David Price and Sonny Gray. He was the Chicago Cubs' minor league pitching coordinator for the past three seasons.
Brewers reliever Will Smith, a 26-year-old left-hander competing with Jeremy Jeffress for the closer's job, said Johnson emphasizes the mental side of pitching.
''There's so much stuff that can go wrong, in your delivery, or whatever,'' said Smith, who was 7-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 appearances for Milwaukee last season. ''From a reliever standpoint, he's been awesome: clearing everything out, being the best you can be for your inning.''
In addition to 32-year-old Matt Garza, the Brewers' starting rotation could include Wily Peralta (26), Jimmy Nelson (26), Taylor Jungmann (26) and Zach Davies (23). Chase Anderson (28), acquired from Arizona in January, is another possibility.
''People don't realize how much talent our pitching staff has,'' said Peralta, a 17-game winner for the Brewers in 2014. ''We are young, but I think we are going to be good this year.''
Nelson pitched for Alabama against Vanderbilt and said he has had an easy transition to the new coach.
''He's got a pretty good feel for the way I like to throw and the way I go after it,'' Nelson said. ''It's nice to have a knowledgeable guy like that, and for us to learn him and him to learn us.''
Manager Craig Counsell announced Monday that Jungmann would start an exhibition game on Wednesday against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Brewers play split-squad games on Thursday, with Anderson scheduled to start at home against the Chicago Cubs and Davies pitching against the San Francisco Giants on the road.