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Despite hype, Brewers stress it’s just one of 162 games

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Mike Johnson
April 6, 2010
— With a tired and knowing grin creeping across his face, Milwaukee Brewers utility man Craig Counsell begrudgingly acknowledged that the real work begins now.

Because contrary to popular belief, the baseball season is 161 games long. There’s Opening Day, and then there’s the rest.


So now that the Brewers’ 5-3 Opening Day loss to the Colorado Rockies at Miller Park on a beautiful Monday afternoon has passed, the 13th-year veteran Counsell knows it’s time for it to feel like the daily grind of baseball season again, not like the NFL-type atmosphere Opening Day brings with its fanfare and ramped-up media presence.


“It’s always a fun day, so I think you enjoy Opening Day, no matter what,” Counsell said after the game. “To be honest with you, when it’s over, now the 161 more (are) what’s ahead of you.”


Indeed, there’s a lot of baseball left, and the inevitable overanalyzes of Opening Day will soon pass.


“Sometimes Opening Day is a little over-hyped,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said before the game in what can be characterized as an understatement by anyone who’s actually experienced the hype of Opening Day.


And if there’s ever an Opening Day to shrug your shoulders about and move on, it’s probably Monday’s strange affair at Miller Park.


Who’d figure that 15-year veteran right fielder Jim Edmonds, the left-handed hitter brought aboard to help the Brewers deal with right-handed pitching, would strike out twice with runners on first and third against Colorado right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez before putting together two much better at-bats later in the game against left-handers?


Edmonds also committed a base-running gaffe to get doubled-off second base in the bottom of the sixth inning. He admitted that Opening Day is even nerve-wracking for him and felt he settled in as the game went along.


“It’s good to get it over with. That’s for sure,” Edmonds said. “That first day is a little nerve-wracking at first, but it went pretty smooth.”


The Brewers’ nerves showed in the field, as well, when catcher Greg Zaun couldn’t locate a wild pitch from Yovani Gallardo in the top of the second and Brad Hawpe scored from second base. In the fourth, an error by third baseman Casey McGehee and two walks led to the Rockies scoring a run without a hit.


“Let’s get the opening-day jitters out of there,” Macha said after the game. “If they knew how many cameras were in here (in the media room) right now on me, they’d probably know I was nervous, too.”


Macha definitely felt nerves played a role in the Brewers scoring just three runs off of 12 hits. He said Milwaukee should have had more patient at-bats when Jimenez’ pitch count was rising.


“I think Opening Day, there’s just a lot of adrenaline, a lot of emotions,” conceded left fielder Ryan Braun, who drove in a pair of runs. “It’s kind of nice to get it out of the way.”


Perhaps reserving the right to be most nervous was Gallardo, the 24-year-old making his first career Opening Day start. He had to deal with at least a runner on base in all but one of his seven innings, but in spite of taking the loss was admirable in his efficiency by navigating through those seven innings in 109 pitches.


“It’s just good to get it under my belt,” Gallardo said. “It’s one of those things, I’m kind of sure every guy in that clubhouse, from both sides of the teams, they were nervous.


“It’s Opening Day. Who’s not gonna be nervous?”


So shake out the nerves, because now it’s time to really begin the season.



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