Nelson looks forward to holidays, 2016 season

Nelson looks forward to holidays, 2016 season

The 2015 baseball season ended in disappointment for Brewers right-hander Jimmy Nelson, who was shut down as a precaution after taking a 108-mph line drive off the right side of his head on Sept. 17 at Miller Park. Nelson escaped injury, but with the Brewers long out of contention and already embarked upon a rebuilding project, the team wasn't taking any chances.

But life has been good since then for the 26-year-old, who has become a dog owner and a husband-to-be since he last found himself in the public eye. Before heading home for the holidays, Nelson chatted with MLB.com about his Christmas memories and his hopes for the year ahead.

MLB.com: What was Christmas like in the Nelson home?
Nelson: It was pretty simple, pretty laid back and traditional. I would probably wake up early and wake up my parents, eat breakfast and open presents. It's funny how it changed -- it was probably all over pretty early when I was young because I was waking up so early. Then, as I got older, I always wanted to sleep in.

Do you have any single strongest Christmas memory?
There was no crazy traditions in my family, but as I got older, we started going to a movie after we finished opening presents. I like that, because I like movies a lot and there are always good movies out around Christmastime.

I remember one specific Christmas when I was significantly younger, before baseball got so big for us, that we rented this lodge at Disney. There was a cool campground with a bunch of cabins on it, and a ferry that would take you right over to Disney World's front gate. It was an all-inclusive deal, and as a kid, that was so neat.

Anything new for Christmas this year?
I got engaged at Thanksgiving. My family is excited because it will be the first time they've seen us since we got engaged. We spent Thanksgiving with Melissa's family, and then we do Christmas with my family in Florida, so this will be my first time seeing my family since the baseball season ended.

How did you pop the question?
I kept it simple. We were at Thanksgiving and her whole family was there: her sister and brother-in-law and her parents and grandparents. It was pretty relaxed. I said grace before we had dinner, and I kind of worked it in at the end. It worked out well. I was glad that all her family was able to be there.

You must have been pretty confident in her answer to do it right there at the dinner table.
Oh, yeah. We've been together for two and a half years now, and it's something we've talked about quite a few times, so I wasn't too nervous. It's not like it was questionable.

What's on Melissa's Christmas list?
We've pretty much exchanged everything already. There was the ring, obviously, and then I bought her a Jeep Grand Cherokee about a week ago because it will help with all the moving around we've been doing. We got a puppy, an Alaskan Klee Kai, like a miniature Husky, so we've been doing all of his training the past few months. That's been a lot of fun.

What's the best gift you've ever received?
Probably a PlayStation or something like that. Growing up, I always got the standard socks and underwear, plus one or two really good, cool gifts. I'm sure my favorite was some kind of PlayStation or Xbox or something like that.

And the best gift you've given?
It's hard to beat the ring or the car.

Favorite holiday movie?
Probably the "Home Alone" series. Growing up, I always loved those. I was about his age when those movies were coming out, so I found them pretty entertaining.

Favorite holiday song?
I don't know. Honestly, I don't listen to much holiday music unless I'm trying to fall asleep or something. I guess it's just the repetitiveness of it; you hear the same songs over and over.

What's your baseball wish for 2016?
My first thought is that it's going to be a crazy year, just because there's so many unknowns out there. I'm excited, obviously. We have a lot of new guys -- not only players, but staff members. It will be a lot of fun to meet the new guys and get some new input from coaches. We're going to have a lot of young guys getting a lot of experience, and that can only [make] you better.

For myself, I feel like I've been up there for a couple of years now, getting more comfortable with the environment and the routine and everything. It's fun to see new guys come up and get in their groove and produce. I left last season with a bad taste in [my] mouth because of the way it ended. My main goal every year remains the same, because you can't make goals off statistics in this crazy game.

My goal is to stay healthy for the entire year and make every one of my starts. The second goal would be to keep us in every game, give us a chance to win every game. Then, to improve on last season. I felt like there was a month, month and a half, two months, maybe, where I hit my stride and was throwing the way I expect. Now, instead of doing it for two months, I want to do that for the majority of the season.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.