HELENA — The Helena Brewers, for one last time, are back.
The majority of the Brewers roster arrived in Helena on Monday, going through two workouts this week before taking to the field for an exhibition against the Helena Senators on Wednesday evening.
With a sense of finality, the Brewers are taking the field this season with a heightened sense of purpose and responsibility.
Brewers manager Nestor Corredor said as much during a media availability on Wednesday ahead of the exhibition.
Corredor, who arrived after coaching down in Arizona with most of the 2018 Brewers, spoke to his players about paying the city back for hosting the Brewers since the turn of the millennium, and prior.
“That’s a big responsibility,” Corredor said. “We talk about it. We’ve been here for 18 years. I started my career as a catcher here in 2004. It’s very emotional. It started for me and I’m going to be the last guy managing the Helena Brewers. Hopefully we can finish strong with a good record and hopefully the championship stays home.”
Corredor, who caught and pitched in Helena in the 2000s, felt this year’s Brewers had a chance to do something special.
“(This) last season we need to try to pay the city back for all they offer,” Corredor said. “They put in for the last 15, 18 years hosting the team and providing enough quality effort to make this happen, especially in the first year for most of the guys.”
As opposed to years past, Corredor felt confident heading into Friday’s Opening Day game in Great Falls. The manager felt relief having a full roster in tow, a luxury he had not been afforded the year prior.
The MLB Draft had slowed the arrival of several key players last season. While the Brewers may likely see a few more players settle in, Corredor likes what he’s currently equipped with.
Corredor feels his young team’s ambition will carry it early this season.
“I think the key for this group that — 17, 18, 19 years old, is they listen,” Corredor said. “Everybody is exciting. Most of our guys are in their first year as a pro, so they’re super excited about it. I think we got a really special group compared to the last couple of years.”
While last year’s team had its share of power hitters, Corredor said this team figures to be a speedy baserunning crew.
Fans will recognize a few names from last year’s team. The Brewers return four players from the 2017 campaign: shortstop Antonio Pinero, infielder Chad McClanahan and pitchers Roberto Delgado and Jenri Montas.
Wednesday, however, was for a special exhibition, giving the Senators a chance to take the field with the Brewers.
Senators pitchers threw against their own hitters to their own catchers, but were backed by the Brewers defense. And vice versa for the Brewers.
As the Brewers prepare to begin their season, and the Senators took a quick hiatus, Wednesday’s exhibition made for a fun setting for clubs.
24 hours later, and the games matter more.