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Brewers owner preaches patience in rebuilding plan

Milwaukee Brewers players run during a spring training baseball workout Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

PHOENIX (AP) -- The owner of the Milwaukee Brewers is preaching patience.

Mark Attanasio says he will be flexible when it comes to spending while the Brewers rebuild, but it all depends on how the team plays.

"This year I think will inform us as to where we are on the timeline," he said. "The team will tell us where we are and where we are going rather than me dictating it."

The team has money to spend. To that point, the owner notes spending of "upwards of $20 million" to improve food service at Miller Park.

The Brewers decided on a new course after the team collapsed at the end of the 2014 season then got off to a terrible start the next year.

"The performance of that team told us it was time to rebuild," said Attanasio, now in his 13th season as owner. "So, we just did an entire pivot. I think we did it in a very seamless way. We traded virtually player who had some value other than Ryan (Braun), really."

Last year marked the first full year for manager Craig Counsell and general manager David Stearns.

"For me, this year the opportunity is unmistakable," Attanasio said. "This is the youngest team we've ever had. By the way, I might mention we won 68 games with probably the oldest team we ever had a couple years ago. So, we are really going in the right direction.

"There are a group of guys there who are going to be part of this next push, part of the next playoff team. That's very exciting. They have to seize it."

During his remarks to the players, he told them not to mess up, doing so in more graphic language. He even had the message translated for Spanish-speaking players.

One constant is slugging outfielder Braun, who in May will mark his 10th year in the majors, all with the Brewers.

"It's just weird to look around the room and realize that nobody else has been here longer than a few years," he said upon arriving at camp.

Long gone are such familiar names as J.J. Hardy, Prince Fielder, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, Jonathan Lu-croy and Yovani Gallardo.

"It's exciting to see our farm system is ranked highly," Braun said. "I have no idea what that means. None of us know how the rankings will translate as guys get to the major league level and deal with adversity and deal with failure for the first time.

"But I think it's just exciting that there are at least 10 or 12 guys that the organization really believes in and they believe have an opportunity to be impact players. That's what we need. We're never going to be able to go get the top free agents every year."

Braun has four seasons left on his contract with the Brewers. He came off back surgery last year and says he has "no limitations" physically. Still, Counsell says Braun won't play much in spring training.

"It's the healthiest I can remember being at spring training, probably ever," Braun said "That's encouraging."

NOTES: The Brewers are discussing ways to upgrade their Maryvale facilities but also are looking at one other option in Arizona. "We do have to bring these to a conclusion at some point because now with the player development focus that we have we've got to have upgraded facilities," Attanasio said. .The owner spoke to the players Saturday morning, followed by general manager David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell. "We need to continue to raise our standards in what we expect," Counsell said. Even though the Brewers are rebuilding, Counsell said, he does not think it "fair to put limits on any of this." ... Counsell said the Brewers will be trying to steal bases in the spring. "Base-running in spring training is about exploring your limits," he said. "We have to give the players opportunities to do that. That's what spring is for."

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