Brewers trio buys 7,500 tickets for home finale

Pina may not return from thumb sprain in regular season

Brewers trio buys 7,500 tickets for home finale

MILWAUKEE -- A trio of Brewers players are saying thanks to the fans by footing the bill for 7,500 tickets to the team's home finale against the Reds.

Ryan Braun, Corey Knebel and Hernan Perez are purchasing 2,500 tickets apiece for Thursday's 3:10 p.m. CT game at Miller Park. They will be distributed to fans on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 9 a.m. CT on Wednesday at brewers.com/players.

There will be a four-ticket limit and a $3 processing fee per order. Tickets will be delivered electronically at approximately 9 a.m. CT on Thursday.

  "We've seen over two-and-a-half-million people come through the gates this year, and we want every one of them to know that their voices have been heard," Braun said in a statement. "We're fighting hard to extend the fun here through October, and we know that this last home series will be a great environment for players and fans alike."

Despite playing in the league's smallest media market, the Brewers entered Monday ranked 10th of the 30 Major League teams with an average home attendance of 31,582. The team has already topped 2.3 million for the 12th straight season and will surpass 2.5 million fans for the ninth time in 10 seasons.

Counsell on anthem protests

All of the Brewers players and coaches on the field for the national anthem Tuesday stood with their caps over their hearts. But while the topic of taking a knee in protest had yet to be raised in the clubhouse, manager Craig Counsell said he would support any player who opted to exercise his right of free expression.

"It hasn't reached over to baseball quite as much but at some point, it will," Counsell said. "I'm certainly alright with a stance that anyone wants to take here. That's my position on it.

"These are difficult issues. Protests are uncomfortable for everybody. That's why they're called protests. It's a topic that requires dialogue for our country. If anything, it's going to encourage further dialogue which we need to have."

Little progress for Pina

Brewers catcher Manny Pina remained sidelined Tuesday by a sprained left thumb, which he sustained on a tag of the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo on Friday night. Pina might not have enough time to return by the end of the regular season.

"We're trying," Counsell said. "He's trying some different things. I'd say there's some small progress but not as much as we need. … We're hoping we can play for a while [into the postseason] and that brings him back into the mix."

Hiura back to full strength

Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan reported a milestone from the fall instructional league in Phoenix. In a game against White Sox prospects on Monday, Brewers 2017 first-round Draft pick Keston Hiura converted his first putout at second base.

Hiura, who began his pro career as a designated hitter because of a preexisting right elbow injury, did play some second base for Class A Wisconsin before a hamstring injury ended his regular season prematurely, but he never had a chance to throw out a runner until Monday, when Hiura also turned a pair of 6-4-3 double plays.

"One of our staff members made a gesture to try to get the ball," Flanagan said with a laugh.

Flanagan also said that two pitching prospects on the injury comeback trail, left-hander Nathan Kirby (Tommy John surgery) and right-hander Phil Bickford (broken throwing hand) were pitching in the instructional league. Only Bickford, however, has faced outside competition.

"Bickford threw an inning [Monday] against the White Sox. He's still looking at the hand occasionally," Flanagan said. "I think he's still trying to get in the comfort zone where he's feeling good."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.