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Brewers’ Chourio maintaining his composure while dealing with expectations early in his rookie year

 The Associated Press  |    Apr 2nd, 2024 8:52pm EDT

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jackson Chourio is showing poise beyond his years while showcasing why the Milwaukee Brewers invested so much in him before he reached the major leagues.

His latest example occurred Tuesday during the 20-year-old’s first at-bat in front of the home crowd at American Family Field. Chourio stepped to the plate in the third inning of a scoreless game with the bases loaded and one out.

It was the type of situation that might have tempted a typical rookie to do too much. Chourio singled to right to put the Brewers ahead for good in a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

“The mentality is it’s just another game,” Chourio said through an interpreter. “You’ve got to take one game at a time and continue to give the best version of myself.”

Chourio has done just that. He’s batting .375 (6 for 16) through four games and has showcased the attributes that enabled him to soar up the minor league system as a teenager.

That’s why the Brewers signed him to an $82 million, eight-year contract when he had played only six games above Double-A.

“He’s a big-time performer,” Milwaulee manager Pat Murphy said.

That big contract has brought attention to Chourio even as he plays in baseball’s smallest market. He showed his ability to thrive in the spotlight when the Brewers headed to New York and opened the season with a three-game sweep of the Mets.

Chourio at 20 years, 18 days became the fifth-youngest player to hit leadoff in his MLB debut, trailing only a quartet of 19-year-old: Bobby Doerr in 1937, Billy Consolo in 1954, and Bob Kennedy and Sibby Sisti in 1940. Doerr was the only one of them to be making his debut.

“Honestly, I felt comfortable from my first day, being in New York,” Chourio said. “It was kind of good to get that one out of the way. I felt comfortable, confident. Now it’s just time to go out there, play fun, play hard and just have a good time.”

Chourio went 1 for 3 with a walk and an RBI in his debut. He had two hits in each of his next two games. Then he went 1 for 4 with the RBI single against the Twins.

He’s done all this while adapting to playing right field after working at center for most of his minor league career.

“I think it’s been like what I thought it was going to be – a dream,” Chourio said. “We’ve really got to enjoy it the most I can.”

Chourio’s teammates are impressed with the way he has responded to the scrutiny.

“He’s come up with a lot of hype and a lot of expectations,” outfielder Christian Yelich said. “That’s not always easy to deal with as a young player. But I thought he did great in New York. It’s huge to just get those first couple of games out of the way and get them under your belt and just settle back in.

“After today, you kind of get back in a regular-season routine and you don’t have the introductions and all of the pageantry that comes around with opening day and home openers. For him, it’s going to be probably nice to just settle in and play baseball.”

Chourio says his everyone in the clubhouse has helped him acclimate and singled out shortstop Willy Adames for being particularly helpful.

He understands slump will occur and adjustments will be needed.

“An area of my game that I continuously want to work on and improve on is my recognition of the strike zone,” Chourio said. “Obviously, the umpires here at the big league level are a little bit better. It’s a little bit smaller zone because it’s much more accurate, so that definitely helps out. Day by day, just want to keep doing it.”

When he inevitably hits a roadblock, Chourio just has to follow the advice Yelich has offered.

“I’ve said since spring training we just need him to be Jackson,” Yelich said. “Whatever that is, just be yourself. Play your game and don’t really worry about the hype or having to be a certain type of player. Just play and let everything take care of itself.”


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

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The Associated Press