Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 8/4/12
With a bullpen that had recorded the most losses and blown saves in the major leagues, the Milwaukee Brewers fired bullpen coach Stan Kyles on July 30 and replaced him on an interim basis with minor league pitching coordinator Lee Tunnell. Tunnell, who has been in that role for four seasons, is charged with restoring confidence in a unit that is probably the biggest reason the Brewers have gone from National League Central champions in 2011 to out of the playoff picture in 2012. Less than a week into his new job, he sat down with FOX Sports Wisconsin's Telly Hughes before Saturday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Tunnell has a unique point of view because he has worked with so many of Milwaukee's pitchers when they were minor leaguers. His eye for developing players and boosting their confidence may be just what a beleaguered group needs.FSW: Can you give us a little perspective on the pitching talent coming through the pipes for the Brewers? TUNNELL: One of the privileges of being a coordinator is you get to see the system top to bottom. We have eight pitching coaches who are doing a solid job and getting systems in place, so as scouting goes through its process and gets talent into the system it's really fun to see those kind of guys develop.FSW: We talked about it when you first got here that some of these guys you've already seen before and you know. You can speak to the resurrection of a lot of careers, including John Axford, who was in high-A ball and next thing you know he's the closer for the Brewers. TUNNELL: As a player, your team is obvious: it's your teammates. In coaching, the guys on your team are your team, but the other coaches you work with are really your team. That's what happened with John in 2009 in Brevard County. (Then-Brevard County pitching coach) Fred Dabney and I had worked together with Texas and we got to talking about something that was a possibility with Ax. He knew him and I didn't at the time. That was my first month in the system. So I asked Fred, "What do you think about this?" He said, you know what, he's the kind of guy who you present that to him and he does it, he'll take it into the game tonight. And the rest is kind of history. It's a good team of coaches we have in player development.FSW: You told me you've been in baseball for 32 years, and when you've been around that long there's a lot of little quirks and things you pick up. But how do you know how long to hold on to a guy when you know he has potential but he hasn't lived up to it? What are the signs you look for to stick with a guy? TUNNELL: Contractually, free agency on the minor league side kind of takes care of some of that for you, but we never give up on guys. It's not player development's side to sign guys. As long as they're signed and are with us, we never give up on a guy. That really is the heart of all the coaches and managers in player development -- they really do a good job of looking at the individual player. I can't tell you how much off the field guys spend time thinking about their players. What can I do to get this guy Everybody is chasing the dream. That's part of the fun of coaching. Not only helping to produce guys to contribute toward a contender at the major league level but helping the individual player not only mature but to chase their dream.
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