Brenly Doing It His Way

Michael Brenly (STAFF PHOTO/PAM DAVIS)

PEORIA – Mask: check. Glove: check. Shin guards and chest protector: check. Peoria Chiefs catcher Michael Brenly completes his daily checklist, picking up his tools of ignorance and heads out to the field for another day of practice in the warm summer sun.

Ignorant, however, is a term Peoria Chiefs manager Marty Pevey stays far away from when describing the Cubs' 36th round draft pick of 2008.

"He's got a good baseball mind. You see a lot of kids from baseball families that come up and they don't have a good idea about baseball," Pevey said. "He's got a good idea about calling the game."

Pevey is referring to Michael being the son of former major league catcher Bob Brenly, who played most of his career with the San Francisco Giants from 1981-1989 before working with Fox as an analyst from 1996-2000 and then winning a World Series title in 2001 while managing the Arizona Diamondbacks. Bob is currently the color analyst for Chicago Cubs television broadcasts.

When his father was managing the Diamondbacks, Michael Brenly took advantage of every opportunity to get as close to the game as he could.

"I traveled all the time. I was at all seven games of the (2001) World Series," Michael said. "I always liked to watch the catchers and see what they do before the game. I liked to watch their preparation, especially with their pitchers."

Michael had the privilege of watching one of baseball's greatest pitchers prepare for games.

"One guy that was hard not to watch was Curt Schilling," Michael stated. "He had a notebook and he had videos. He had a very set game-plan on how to get everyone out at every at-bat."

Michael also receives advice from another creditable source: his father.

"He tries to let me be my own player, but he's a dad. Just because he does what he does doesn't mean he's not my dad," Michael said. "He offers me advice, but he's not a pushy dad."

Even though Michael has a big name to live up to, he has kept a level head and developed a hard working attitude that his manager is fond of.

"I love to watch him play because he is such a hard worker," Pevey stated. "He's one of those guy's that's not flashy that gets the job done every night and you see a lot of wins by his name when he catches."

The hard work Brenly has put in is beginning to pay off not only behind the plate (where he has thrown out 14 runners in 32 stolen bases attempts for a Midwest League leading 43 percent caught stealing percentage), but hitting at the plate as well.

After belting a two-run home run in the second inning of Friday's game against Beloit, Brenly extended his hitting streak to eight games. He is now batting .265 with two home runs and 16 RBI.

A season ago, Brenly batted .325 with one home run and 18 RBI at short season Class-A Boise, but got off to a slow start this season because of a concussion he suffered in Spring Training, which caused him to miss the first week of the regular season.

"It was just a foul tip off the mask. Just a fluke thing that happens all the time," Brenly commented.

He stepped right back behind the plate after the minor setback to work on the part of the game he takes most pride in: his defense.

"I take a lot of pride in my defense. I try and get better every game, whether it is passed balls or blocking balls in the dirt. Going out there and hitting a home run is cool, but when your pitcher goes out and one-hits a team and shuts them out, you feel like you helped with that," Brenly explained. "When you are on the same page as the pitcher on the mound, it's awesome. You call a pitch, he hits the spot. It's great."

And when situations may not be going so great for Brenly, he is able to take one of the biggest pieces of advice from his parents to put the game in perspective.

"If I'm struggling a little bit or frustrated with baseball, they will talk to me about something else and get my mind off of it," Brenly said. "They tell me to relax and have fun. It's just a game. Even though we're trying to get somewhere, it's still just a game. It's the same game we've been playing since we were young."

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