'Explore your weaknesses:' Brewers' Hiura focused on defense headed into 2020

MILWAUKEE -- With great success generally comes great humility. The Brewers are seeing that with one of their rising stars who, before spring training was canceled, came in with a mission.

Keston Hiura made his Major League debut in 2019. He had no problems, really, at the plate, hitting very well. But, he did struggle at times with his defense at second base.

(Getty Images)

"Defensively, we learned we have a lot of work to do," said Brewers Manager Craig Counsell.

For Hiura, that began immediately after arriving at camp.

Keston Hiura

"Everyone comes in here knowing that they need to work on everything. There's always stuff to improve on," Hiura said. "Obviously, you're going to explore your weaknesses a little bit more than your strengths and give more attention to that."

For some players, that might be a big hurdle. For Hiura, it's a small bump on the road to success.

"I think it's a big thing I want to work on. I think it all starts with me and my attitude going into it," said Hiura.

By the time he was in Phoenix, Hiura had cleared his mind by taking time off from baseball following the 2019 season.

"Spent a lot of time just talking with family and seeing friends. Just do stuff you can do away from the baseball field and kind of decompress," he said. "Start reflecting and you know, seeing what I need to get done for the next season."

By the time the holidays rolled around, he was back to the baseball side of things. The mental break allowed him to focus on the key areas of his game that needed improvement.

"Just got to work on the footwork, the arm strength, consistency. Be able to work on all that kind of stuff, you know, more routinely," said Hiura. "I think that's a big emphasis for me and for the organization as well."

Craig Counsell

"It's just a lack of repetitions and just doing it. Because of injuries, he just hasn't been able to do it. And at times we're still cautious because we want him on the field to play in games," Counsell said.

While the responsibility is his to get better, Hiura does have a big support system in the organization: "We have a lot of good veteran presence around this locker room. Being able to learn from them, pick their brains, see what their philosophy is and how they go about defensive work."

One tool Hiura has available to him at all times is his manager, Counsell, who played 14 big-league seasons in the infield.

"We talk about it all the time," Hiura said. "He's going to be a big part of me learning how to get around the infield. He's done a tremendous job of getting on the same page doing what I need to do in order to do that."

One thing is for sure, as long as he's healthy, Hiura is going to be in the lineup.