MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- About a month into Spring Training and practice and the Brewers have their routine set and are ready to play meaningful games -- and that includes relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler. While his journey in the big leagues has plenty of potholes, he's hoping to build off of last season's success.
#52 for the Brewers is right out there with Ryan Braun and Matt Garza, but Brandon Kintzler is not Mr. Bonus Baby, surefire Major Leaguer.
"Yeah, sometimes you have to pinch yourself and like, I'm actually here. With all the injuries I've had, it's helped a lot to where I can prepare to go 70 games," Kintzler said.
Milwaukee is counting on Kintzler to be a workhorse setup reliever this season, and it's not like he's going to turn down the chance. He was originally a 40th round draft choice, who was released by the Padres in 2006 after having shoulder surgery. He put his career back online with the independent Winnipeg Goldeneyes before coming to the Brewers organization and ultimately, the big leagues in 2010.
In 2011 -- boom -- a triceps injury, and he was back on the sidelines.
In 2012, it was an elbow problem.
Perseverance is part of the package for Kintzler, who is finally healthy.
"Going into this year, Spring Training is a little different. I can get ready for the season and do what I need to do instead of being stressed out with every outing and every bullpen, so it's definitely a different perspective, but I'm really up for the challenge," Kintzler said.
Spring Training is all about baseball and all about staying mellow. The weather conditions, the laid-back atmosphere -- you might think that doesn't fit for Kintzler -- a Las Vegas guy, but he says he's not really the Las Vegas guy he once was.
"When you grow up there, I did a lot when I was young, don't get me wrong, but when you grow up there, and now at this point -- I don't even want or need to go to the strip. The only time I go to the strip is say some teammate is coming to town -- I'll go hang out with him, but I've got a casino next to my house really, but the only time I go in there is to go to a movie theater or something," Kintzler said.
Kintzler has found a way to stay at the table in his baseball career, and given the up and down ride he's had, he's not about to gamble his opportunity away now.
Opening Day is March 31st. The Brewers are set to take on the Atlanta Braves at Miller Park.