Christian Yelich and Lewis Brinson felt their bits of nostalgia in different ways this week.
For Brinson, it was being back at Miller Park and in Milwaukee — the city where he made his major-league debut.
For Yelich, it was going to dinner with former Miami Marlins’ teammates J.T. Realmuto and Justin Bour the night before the game like old times.
The former and current Marlins’ outfielders, swapped for each other in late January as part of Miami’s trade with the Brewers that continued their offseason roster reshaping, faced each other for the first time on Thursday.
“It’s been great,” Yelich said. “I was really close to a lot of the guys on the team. A few of them that are left are still over there so we still kept in touch in the offseason. It was good to see them and catch up over some dinner.”
Brinson said: “It’s good to come back, even though it was only for maybe 20 games. I created a lot of good relationships over there. Obviously, Milwaukee is a great place to play. The fan base is awesome. The city is awesome. You've got this roof protecting us from the cold. It's good to come back.”
Yelich, who in a preseason interview with ESPN lamented not getting the opportunity see the Marlins become a potential playoff team with a star outfield consisting of him, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna, finds himself on a contender these days in Milwaukee.
Despite missing 12 games due to an oblique injury, Yelich is off to a good start with his new squad, hitting .393 with a home run and five RBI entering Thursday and making highlight-reel catches in the outfield.
Brinson is one of the key pieces the Marlins are counting on in their efforts to build for the future.
It’s been a struggle for him so far, however.
Brinson, 23, entered Thursday’s game hoping the return to Milwaukee would help him break out of a 1-for-36 slump that prompted the Marlins to give him the past two games and three days off to work on his mechanics. Brinson hit his first home run as a Marlin in his first at-bat in the third inning.
“I’m just trying to make the adjustments that I needed to, just small things,” Brinson said. “I thank [Marlins manager Don] Mattingly for giving me time kind of get my thoughts together and get my game back together. I got good rest and good adjustment time.”
Yelich, who was one of the players who reportedly asked to be traded once the Marlins began dealing players in the offseason, said Thursday he hasn’t really followed the Marlins closely, just some of the players that he built strong relationships with over his eight years in their organization.
“Just certain guys, J.T. [Realmuto], JB [Justin Bour], Miggy [Miguel Rojas], and I talked to [Martin] Prado the other day so yeah, as much as I can obviously,” Yelich said. “It’s tough because we have other stuff going on but I follow those guys and really just everybody you play with throughout the league.”
The Marlins will get a look soon at 22-year-old pitching prospect Merandy Gonzalez, who they acquired last season when they traded then-closer A.J. Ramos to the Mets.
The Marlins recalled Gonzalez, the Marlins’ No. 15 prospect according to MLBPipeline, from Double-A Jacksonville where he made two starts (10 innings) and went 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA while striking out seven and issuing four walks.
Mattingly said long relief will be Gonzalez’s role initially, but he could be an option to make a spot start if necessary.
The Marlins made room on their roster by placing reliever Chris O’Grady (6.43 ERA in seven innings) on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to Tuesday with a left shoulder strain.
Mattingly said the issue for a few days, but it flared up again after his outing Monday in New York in which he allowed a run on two hits in 1 1/3 innings.
Friday: Miami Marlins RHP Trevor Richards (0-1, 4.70 ERA) vs. Milwaukee Brewers RHP Jhoulys Chacin (0-1, 5.60), 8:10 p.m., Miller Park.
Saturday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (0-3, 5.57) vs. Brewers LHP Brent Suter (1-2, 4.87), 7:10 p.m., Miller Park.