Things sure have changed for the Brewers since McGehee left. He departed in the offseason along with Prince Fielder, Mark Kotsay and LaTroy Hawkins, all strong clubhouse presences. Craig Counsell retired.
He has stayed in touch via text message with a number of players who did return, including Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks, and was asked whether, injuries aside, he has a sense of why Milwaukee has struggled this season.
"I'm sure it had some sort of effect, but I haven't really delved into reasons why, and how much things have changed or anything like that," McGehee said. "It's kind of shocking, in a way, for a 96-win club to have that much turnover. I don't think you see that very often."
The Brewers traded McGehee for reliever Jose Veras in a swap of arbitration-eligible players, and McGehee's homecoming actually began Thursday, when the Pirates arrived in Milwaukee on their off-day. His wife, Sarah, and their two children are on the trip, and the McGehees are hoping to reunite with some of the healthcare workers who were so kind to their son Mack over the years. Mack has cerebral palsy and is doing great, McGehee said.
"We got in [Thursday] on the off-day, and I kind of had to take a little step back," McGehee said. "It was pretty nice coming back and seeing faces that were pretty familiar for a few years. A lot of people stopped by and said hello."
McGehee batted .104 in May and was not in the Pirates' lineup for Friday's series opener. He's hoping the Pirates can take a step forward similar to the one McGehee saw in Milwaukee.
"Even though I got to the team a little late in the process when I was with Milwaukee, I think there's a lot of similarities between where we're at here in Pittsburgh and where Milwaukee was, even the year prior to me being there. We've got some guys here who are kind of right at that next step, the next wave of superstars."