Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Yelich Talks about Ozuna, Slow Starts, and Cardinals Interest

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Yelich Talks about Ozuna, Slow Starts, and Cardinals Interest

Article excerpt

MILWAUKEE - As the second batter of the game approached the plate in the top of the first inning Tuesday, his gray uniform confirming he was a part of the road team, the public address announcer at Miller Park introduced him as "Christian Yelich," the Brewers' right fielder.

Months later, the idea he'd be a Cardinal must still persist.

Yelich, the No. 2 hitter for first-place Milwaukee, was one of three Miami outfielders the Cardinals targeted this past winter as the desired addition to their lineup, and they acquired his teammate, Marcell Ozuna. Two members of the Marlins diaspora, Yelich and Ozuna, have kept in touch, talked at length Tuesday, and are now featured hitters for two National League Central rivals. Yelich's .310 average and three runs Monday have paced Milwaukee's rise while Ozuna's struggles and grope for power have been a part of the Cardinals' mercurial offense. Yelich doesn't expect Ozuna's search to last long.

"I know it's still early and it's an adjustment period. He'll be fine," Yelich said Tuesday in the Brewers' clubhouse. "It comes in waves. And, honestly, when the guy gets hot I don't see anyone hotter. He goes on stretches where he lights the world on fire."

Yelich, 26, has played on a team with Ozuna since Class A, when he was a teenager. He, Giancarlo Stanton and Ozuna had been the nucleus of the Marlins' lineup for most of the past five years, and he described Tuesday how they grew up together and pushed each other, and how last year two of them made breakthroughs together. Stanton hit 59 home runs and won the National League MVP. He and Yelich would often talk about Ozuna's potential – and then saw it go pyrotechnic last summer.

Ozuna drove in 124 runs, slugged .548 and hit 30 homers.

"We always talked about that because, really, he could do it all," Yelich said. "If you took Stanton out, if Stanton was in the American League last year, Ozuna was right there. He's in the conversation for MVP. It was really fun to be a part of that offense. I thought we were really deep, and to go through the ups and downs together and then see those guys make the adjustments -- and really elevate their games. …

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