MONTREAL – When Christian Yelich put together his first big professional season in 2011 at age 19 with the Greensboro A Class in the agricultural system of Miami, he had a 34-year-old manager wishing to name Andy Haines.

"I wanted to get to the big leagues; he wanted to reach the most important championships," said Yelich, the most valuable player in charge of the Milwaukee Brewers National League. "So, we were looking for the dream together.

"I learned a lot from him. I hope he learned something from me. He has known me since I was a kid, trying to figure it out. I've known him since he was a young manager, trying to figure it out. We didn't know it would end that way .

"It's nice to look back now, eight years later."

Yelich, the Brewers' first champion batsman, enjoyed working again this spring with Haines, named Milwaukee coach in November. What he particularly likes is that Haines didn't hesitate to offer advice, even after Yelich had one of the best seasons in franchise history in 2018.

"I expect him to hold me responsible and continue to push," said Yelich, who played two more seasons in the minors for Haines before making the major leagues. "This is what he should do. The thing about Andy is that he really cares, really. He has always cared for his players.

"You can see him now, even as a striking coach. He has invested. He wants the best for everyone."

It would be easy for Haines to follow the familiar "if not broken, don't fix" philosophy with Yelich. But he really believes that Yelich can improve.

"It was special, just to be around him every day," said Haines, hired by the Brewers after a season as an assistant to the Chicago Cubs. "To go back into the trenches every day with him, I didn't take it for granted. Hearing him talk and see the process of maturation, just as he speaks, how he knows himself well, he really knows what to look for.


NL MVP Christian Yelich on his preseason preparation
Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"Christian knows he has a couple of things like touch that he needs every day. He's very diligent. He's very self-conscious this way. I'm becoming the eyes and ears that we hope he can bounce. But he's one of those guys who is really brutally honest with himself if he feels that things are not going well, even if the results are good in BP.

"Can you tell me if it's something out, and we're going to talk about it and watch it."

If it sounds like Haines knows Yelich better, it's because he does. The background of the years in the Marlins system does not hurt, but Haines also had an excellent appearance – painful as an opponent – on the field of Yelich, while he was on the bench last season in Chicago. It was an insane final month (1,313 OPS) by the outfield area player who pushed the Brewers to a torrid conclusion to the left, allowing them to overtake the Cubs and force success with the series n. 163.

Haines also knows that Yelich is forced to prove that the experts who say they are ahead of a major regression in 2019 is wrong, as if someone could repeat the season he had had last year. He rarely lost a shot in performance in Arizona, beating .474 in 15 games with five doubles, four at home, nine run runs, .487 base percentage and .921 slugging percentage.

"The main thing I saw up close with Christian is that, coming out of the year he has, he's really hungry," Haines said. "He is really aware of what people are saying and thinking." Regression is like the worst word in English for him.

"People who believed in him during his career know that his personality characteristics are very strong. He is really mature; he cares about the right things. Once he becomes that elite, it is more difficult to press the needle in the right direction. But he is the guy who will do it. It is not a way to say that it was only the beginning for him.

"It's human nature as a player, and as a coach, being scared and shy, even talking about it. But the bottom line is the goal is continuous improvement, in all of us, in everything we do. I think Christian is in this state of mind. "

Yelich was anxious to establish a hitter-coach relationship with Haines, in contrast to the player-manager relationship they had in the Marlins system. He has already seen Haines' ability to identify even the slightest flaw in Yelich's approach during a game or batting practice.

"Every batter has the keys," said Yelich. "They have things they want to monitor, and they have certain control points in their swing that sometimes get away by chance, during the year. You forget about them.

"It's nice to have that little reminder, when you go into the cage and say: & # 39; I don't feel well. And he says & # 39; Do this and this, of which you spoke. & # 39; Work on it through that aspect ".

Although Yelich and Haines turned back, the Brewer star saw the new coach hit hard like any other batsman in the club, not to mention the dozen people who didn't make the cut for the opening roster day. Haines is really interested in making every player better, even those with years of success in the majors such as Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas.

"He's a great person," said Yelich. "A great human, big baseball mind. I really don't see the time to spend the season with him."