With the Ryan Braun circus out of the way, it was business as usual at Maryvale Baseball Park, where the Milwaukee Brewers took part in the first full-team workout of spring training.As has been his custom since taking ownership of the franchise in 2005, Brewers principal owner and chairman Mark Attanasio addressed the players and coaching staff, as did general manager Doug Melvin and field manager Ron Roenicke.As the team took to the practice field, Attanasio talked about the support his franchise has recieved in Milwaukee, where more than one million tickets have already been sold for the 2012 season."We just have enormous support," Attanasio said. "We have a city of 500,000 to 600,000 people and we had over three million people come out. ... And so, last year, we had more fans than the Red Sox, Cubs, the Rangers, the Mets, the Dodgers. That's just huge support from the community of Milwaukee for this ballclub. And so it all starts there."Those fans were rewarded last season with a franchise-record 96 victories, the team's first division title in 29 years and a trip to the league championship series. Attanasio thinks that kind of fan support is a great selling point for free agents like Aramis Ramirez, who signed a three-year deal with the Brewers during the off-season."I think one of the things we've been able to do, to recruit players, is to show them that it's a great place to play baseball, and it's a great place to live in the summer," Attanasio said. "And it's a community that loves this team. We're a baseball town."The Brewers, even with Braun back in the lineup for the entire season, aren't assured a clear path to another divisional championship. The defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinsals lost slugging first baseman Albert Pujols in free agency but still return Lance Berkman, Matt Holiday and starting pitchers Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. The Cincinnati Reds are also much-improved heading into the season and will likely factor in the Central Division race.Entering his eighth season as owner, Attanasio knows to take nothing for granted."I know just how hard it is to win. And, when I first bought the team I didn't understand. And now I do understand. So I'm very respectful of the other teams in our division. There's a lot of teams that have gotten better in the National League this year. Guys don't stand pat. The Cincinnati Reds owner didn't say, 'Oh, the Cardinals and the Brewers, they're gonna be good again; we're not gonna get better.' They went and got a lot better."And other teams in the National League did, too -- like the Marlins, for example."We've got an enormously talented roster. Any number of guys have been All-Stars on our team.
One of the things I heard today that I hadn't understood was that, for the last 6 years, the only 3 teams that have had 3 or more all-stars every year for 6 years is the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox and the Milwaukee Brewers.
So we have a very talented club, and I'm excited to get going."
Reporting from this story provided by Brewers video interviews. Follow Andrew Wagner on Twitter.