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For Brewers’ Willy Adames, Mike Brosseau, a heartfelt return to Rays’ stadium

“I have a special place in my heart for this team and for this city,” Adames said of Tampa Bay.
Milwaukee Brewers and former Rays shortstop Willy Adames, left, jokes with Tampa Bay third baseman Yandy Diaz before Tuesday's game at Tropicana Field.
Milwaukee Brewers and former Rays shortstop Willy Adames, left, jokes with Tampa Bay third baseman Yandy Diaz before Tuesday's game at Tropicana Field. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Jun. 29|Updated Jun. 29

ST. PETERSBURG — Their first steps were familiar, then things got weird.

Willy Adames and Mike Brosseau walked in to Tropicana Field as visitors with the Brewers Tuesday much as they did for years as members of the Rays, talking their way through the home player entrance on the first-base side.

They popped in to the home clubhouse and said some hellos. Then, reality hit, as neither had ever been to the visiting clubhouse at the other end of the walkway.

Related: Called the 'Pied Piper' in Rays minor-league system, Willy Adames grew up into a leader

“It was a little weird,” Adames said. “I didn’t even know how to get into the visitors’ clubhouse. I had to go through the Rays’ workout room.”

But once they got acclimated, both — traded last year to Milwaukee in separate deals — said it felt good to be back at the Trop.

“It’s really cool, really cool to be back,” Brosseau said. “This is all I knew before coming over to Milwaukee. So it’s really good to see some old friendly faces, some characters that they just don’t change. It’s a really special group over there. Had some really cool memories.”

Adames went to the stadium early so he could talk with manager Kevin Cash, baseball operations president Erik Neander and other team officials.

“It feels great to be back, see the familiar faces, say ‘hi’ to the boys, the coaching staff, the people that work here in the stadium,” Adames said. “It’s been a great day. It’s been an amazing day. So I’m enjoying every part of it.”

Rather than specific memories, Adames preferred to reflect fondly on his entire Rays experience.

“The way that they develop the guys here, the way that they show you how to play baseball, obviously that winning mentality that they have here is something that I’m always going to remember,” he said. “All those memories, those good memories that I have playing here, they’re always going to be here, in my chest. I have a special place in my heart for this team and for this city.”

Milwaukee Brewers and former Rays third baseman Mike Brosseau speaks to reporters Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
Milwaukee Brewers and former Rays third baseman Mike Brosseau speaks to reporters Tuesday at Tropicana Field. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
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Brosseau, who had a clear signature moment with his go-ahead homer off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman late in Game 5 of the 2020 American League Division Series, took a similar view.

“There’s so many (memories) just with the Rays in general,” he said. “On a daily basis, just the clubhouse vibes. We had a lot of really good teams, a lot of good games, obviously, going to the (2020) World Series and multiple postseason appearances. I can’t speak enough about that group over there. Very, very highly respected on my end.”

The Rays reciprocated their feelings, showing a short video after the second inning thanking Adames, Brosseau and former longtime minor- and major-league coach Ozzie Timmons, who left for Milwaukee in November.

So did several Tampa Bay players and coaches, who made sure to go out before batting practice to talk with their ex-mates. As did the fans, who gave Adames a nice ovation before his first-inning at-bat, a single to left, on a 1-for-3 night. Brosseau did not play.

“They were part of a pretty special period for us,” Cash said. “I think the COVID circumstances brought everybody closer together. So it’ll always be good memories, and they played such huge roles throughout that.”

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