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Brewers agree to terms with infielder Counsell

Brewers agree to terms with infielder Counsell

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MILWAUKEE -- Craig Counsell will play another season with his hometown team.

The versatile, 40-year-old infielder agreed to a one-year contract with the Brewers on Monday, with only some final details to be worked out before the team made its official announcement. It's a happy ending for both sides. Counsell grew up in nearby Whitefish Bay, Wis., and rooted for the Brewers while his dad worked in the team's front office. The Brewers wanted Counsell back because he's a pesky bench bat and can play every infield position -- particularly shortstop, where the Brewers plan to start newly acquired Yuniesky Betancourt.

FoxSports.com was first to report that the sides had reached terms, but both the Brewers and Counsell's agent, Barry Meister, remained tight-lipped about the figures after that report surfaced. Counsell earned a $2.1 million base salary in 2010.

"We're still a young club, and he brings you that veteran presence, that experience, to your ballclub," Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin said. "Plus, the ability to play all three infield positions. He's a pretty tough out as a pinch-hitter. He's always available. I think he's been a good influence on some of our players. He's got a quiet leadership about him."

Counsell batted .250 in '10 with a .344 on-base percentage. He was 13-for-39 (.333) as a pinch-hitter with a .422 on-base mark -- and appeared at second base, third base and shortstop for the fifth consecutive season.

The upcoming season will be Counsell's fifth straight year in a Brewers uniform and sixth overall. Melvin first acquired Counsell in a trade with the D-backs before the 2004 season, when Counsell was the team's starting shortstop. He departed via free agency, but returned in '07 on a two-year deal. He then signed one-year contracts for '09 and '10.

Counsell was born in South Bend, Ind., but grew up in Whitefish Bay, a suburb just north of Milwaukee. He was a boyhood regular at County Stadium -- where his dad worked in the Brewers' community relations department -- and got to know stars like Robin Yount and Paul Molitor.

Those players would end up in the Hall of Fame, but won only one World Series ring between them (Molitor, with the 1993 Blue Jays). Counsell had two championship rings by the time he was 31 years old. He scored the winning run in Game 7 of the '97 World Series, and was at first base in Game 7 of the 2001 Series when Luis Gonzalez delivered the winning single.

Melvin discussed Counsell after introducing right-hander Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee media on Monday -- and together those moves could represent the end of the Brewers' major offseason dealing.

If the Brewers do make any more additions, it will probably be in the bullpen, according to Melvin. He called free-agent right-hander Carl Pavano's agent, Tom O'Connell, over the weekend to say the Brewers were out of the running in wake of the Greinke trade.

The Brewers, Nationals, Twins and at least one other team have been in talks with Pavano this winter.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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