6 Milwaukee Brewers On a team desperate for leadership, a fit and willing vet, Royce Clayton, fills the void

March 31, 2003

On Jan. 16, 2001, shortstop Royce Clayton was standing by himself
at a reception following the World Sports Awards in London. He
was honored to have presented an award, but now Clayton was bored
stiff, sipping from a glass of soda. A woman approached him and
started asking personal questions before she suddenly backed off.
"Oh, I'm so sorry!" she said, pointing behind him. "Is this your
wife?"

Clayton turned and saw British track star Samantha Davies, whom
he had never met. "No," said Clayton, smiling. "She's not my
wife. Not yet."

Though that moment won't be as memorable to Brewers fans as Robin
Yount's 3,000th hit or Juan Nieves's no-hitter, it could be key
to the start of a turnaround in Milwaukee, which is coming off
its worst record in franchise history (56--106). Clayton and
Davies wed 11 months later, resulting in one joyous--"I'm the
happiest man in the world," he says--and phenomenally fit major
leaguer.

By marrying Davies, who ran the 200 meters and the 4¥100 relay
for England at the 2000 Olympic Games, Clayton not only got a
wife but also a personal trainer. He spent last winter working
out with her three days a week, running a grueling regimen of
sprints. Like most of his peers, Clayton had usually spent his
off-season lifting weights. No more. "Track is a whole body
workout," he says. "When Samantha and I train together, I train
as if I were a track and field competitor. It's the most intense
thing I've ever done." So, does his wife run rings around him?
"Of course she does," says Clayton. "She's a freakin' Olympian."

New manager Ned Yost is counting on Clayton, who was signed as a
free agent after two seasons with the Chicago White Sox, to
provide stability to the infield and help tutor the team's new
third baseman, former Atlanta Braves utilityman Wes Helms. Last
year's shortstop, Jose Hernandez, earned an All-Star Game
invitation largely because of his 13 first-half home runs, but
his dour demeanor brought little to a club that spent all but
eight days in the division cellar. When former manager Jerry
Royster benched Hernandez for the last few games of the season to
keep him from breaking the single-season strikeout record (he was
one short of the mark of 189, set by Bobby Bonds in 1970),
Hernandez did not protest. Many Brewers were appalled by
Hernandez's attitude, and when he signed with the Colorado
Rockies as a free agent in the off-season, nobody in the
Milwaukee clubhouse needed consoling.

Though the Brewers don't have enough pitching or firepower to
compete in the loaded Central Division, Clayton, a 12-year
veteran with a .258 career batting average, is determined to
become a leader and keep the team's attitude positive. Throughout
spring training Clayton offered Helms pointers on such things as
positioning and pitchers' tendencies. "Royce is someone you have
to respect," the 26-year-old Helms says of Clayton, who has
played in the postseason three times, with the Cardinals and the
Rangers. "He has a track record as a winner."

Helms, who had been stuck behind Chipper Jones and Vinny Castilla
on the Braves' depth chart, also has a track record of success.
While he has only 444 major league at bats, Helms was a member of
four NL East champions. During the spring, Helms spent many
afternoons with his new manager, taking extra cuts in the batting
cage and evaluating a swing that produces lots of line drives but
not much power. Nobody in Milwaukee believes that Helms will
become the next Scott Rolen or Troy Glaus, but if things go well,
Brewers management believes Helms can hit 30 to 40 doubles
playing in Miller Park.

"He's one of the hardest workers I've ever been around," says
Yost, who was an Atlanta coach from 1991 through 2002. "Wes has a
burning desire to get better." When he is not on the field, Helms
can often be found in a corner of the clubhouse, leafing through
pages upon pages of motivational text. His favorite book is Dan
Millman's The Inner Athlete, and the quote he often cites comes
from former Pirates star Willie Stargell: "Pain is temporary,
pride is forever."

Though the Brewers' pain seems forever--the team has not made the
playoffs in 21 years--Helms and Clayton hope to at least instill
some pride. --J.P.

COLOR PHOTO: RONALD C. MODRA STEADY HAND At 33, the capable Clayton is being counted on to stabilize the infield and tutor the young players.
COLOR PHOTO: JED JACOBSOHN/GETTY IMAGES SEXSON

IN FACT

Last season centerfielder Alex Sanchez was the first Brewer to
receive a vote for Rookie of the Year since righthander Jeff
D'Amico, in 1996.

ENEMY LINES
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Brewers

THIS TEAM may have the worst talent in the majors.... Royce
Clayton is a nice man, but he would not start on a good team.
Third baseman Wes Helms does nothing especially well; he'll hit
15 to 20 homers, maybe bat .270. Eric Young is the worst
defensive second baseman in the league.... Richie Sexson has
great power. Pitchers think they can bust him inside, but try it
and he'll kill the ball.... If Alex Sanchez learns how to run the
bases, he'll steal because he has awesome speed. He starts for a
lot of teams. I used to love Geoff Jenkins, but he can't stay
healthy, and his long swing isn't doing him any favors. You have
to wonder whether Jeffrey Hammonds is done.... Ben Sheets reminds
me of Roger Clemens. He's got three plus pitches, and he's
intense. On 20 other teams he's a 20game winner. With Milwaukee
he'll win 14 or 15. Glendon Rusch is savvy, but he needs to be
surrounded by hard throwers so that his stuff looks slower. Todd
Ritchie is an ordinary No. 4 starter.... Mike DeJean's best asset
is his deceptive delivery; in a perfect world he's a setup guy.
Luis Vizcaino has a rubber arm. He can pitch every day.

THE LINEUP
projected roster with 2002 statistics

BATTING ORDER

CF Sanchez
2B Young
1B Sexson
LF Jenkins
RF Hammonds
3B Helms
C Perez
SS Clayton

ALEX SANCHEZ

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

L 74 .289 1 33 37

ERIC YOUNG

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

R 118 .280 3 28 31

RICHIE SEXSON

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

R 57 .279 29 102 0

GEOFF JENKINS

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

L-R 195 .243 10 29 1

JEFFREY HAMMONDS

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

R 197 .257 9 41 4

WES HELMS [#]

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

R 222 .243 6 22 1

EDDIE PEREZ [#]

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

R 349 .214 0 4 0

ROYCE CLAYTON [#]

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

R 294 .251 7 35 5

BENCH

KEITH GINTER*

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

R 309 .264 12 54 3

JOHN VANDER WAL [#]

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

L 288 .260 6 20 1

ROTATION

PITCHER PVR W L IPS WHIP ERA

RH Ben Sheets 64 11 16 6.4 1.42 4.15
LH Glendon Rusch 175 10 16 6.2 1.44 4.70
RH Todd Ritchie [#] 270 5 15 5.7 1.71 6.06
LH Wayne Franklin 184 2 1 6.0 1.38 2.63
RH Matt Kinney [#] 245 2 7 5.3 1.68 4.64

BULLPEN

PITCHER PVR W L S WHIP ERA

RH Mike DeJean 54 1 5 27 1.40 3.12
RH Luis Vizcaino 210 5 3 5 1.05 2.99
RH Curtis Leskanic** 239 2 6 17 1.36 3.63

[#] New acquisition
(R) Rookie
B-T: Bats-throws
IPS: Innings pitched per start
WHIP: Walks plus hits per inning pitched
*Triple A stats
**2001 stats
PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 157)

2002 RECORD

56--106
sixth in NL Central

MANAGER

Ned Yost
first season with Milwaukee

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)