SHAW FINDS GROOVE WITH BREW­ERS

Trade from Red Sox gave ca­reer new life

The Signal - - MLB - Kevin Santo @Kev­in_M_Santo USA TO­DAY Sports

When Travis

WASH­ING­TON Shaw was first called up to the ma­jor leagues, his fa­ther’s mes­sage was sim­ple.

“There’s gonna be some ups and downs,” Shaw re­mem­bers his fa­ther say­ing. “You just got to get through it.”

Maybe fa­thers re­ally do know best — es­pe­cially when it’s Jeff Shaw, who spent 12 years in the big leagues as a re­liever. For his son, there were some ups but a lot more downs. And 2017 is ev­i­dence: Travis Shaw has got­ten through it and then some.

Right now, Shaw is thriv­ing as the Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers third base­man, one of the rea­sons the club thinks it can re­claim the Na­tional League Cen­tral lead de­spite the Chicago Cubs’ sec­ond­half re­vival. Shaw en­tered Fri­day bat­ting .299 and lead­ing the club with 103 hits, 24 home runs (tied for sixth in the NL) and 74 RBI (sixth in the NL).

But be­fore Shaw was hav­ing a sea­son bor­der­ing on All-Star cal­iber, he was a mem­ber of the Bos­ton Red Sox, drafted in the ninth round in 2011 out of Kent State. He was as much a part of the Red Sox youth move­ment as Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts. At least, he was sup­posed to be.

In­stead, the 2016 sea­son was a roller coaster that ended on a steep de­cline.

Shaw opened the sea­son on a high note, beat­ing out Pablo San­doval for the start­ing third-base job de­spite play­ing first base for just over four years in the mi­nors.

Then he posted a .274 bat­ting av­er­age with 48 RBI through the first week of July. But af­ter the Red Sox traded for Aaron Hill on July 8, seem­ingly ev­ery­thing changed.

Shaw closed the year bat­ting .184 in his fi­nal 47 games, and it be­came even harder to ig­nore what San­doval’s price tag had been in 2014 ($95 mil­lion over five years). And just like that, Shaw was traded to the Brew­ers in De­cem­ber.

“(I was) just try­ing to do a lit­tle bit too much,” Shaw said. “I got out of what I like to do at the plate, and I wasn’t play­ing ev­ery day. So when I got in there, I thought I needed to prove (some­thing), get two, three hits ev­ery night that I did play.

“That’s where ev­ery­thing kind of goes south . ... You try to do too much, and it just doesn’t work. I learned a lot those last few months of the sea­son, and it’s helped a lot this year.”

In ret­ro­spect, the move jump­started his ca­reer. He’s a reg­u­lar fix­ture in the Brew­ers lineup, faces left-han­ders more of­ten and his ex­pe­ri­ence with the Red Sox taught him not to “play GM.” But hind­sight is 20-20, and Shaw’s suc­cess doesn’t mean he didn’t feel like he left Bos­ton think­ing he wasn’t the man for the job.

“I thought I was bet­ter than what I showed to end the year last year,” Shaw said. “Com­ing up with all those guys — that young core that Bos­ton has right now — I was a part of that group in the mi­nor leagues, com­ing up at each level. It sucked leav­ing them, but at the same time, like I said, it’s a bet­ter op­por­tu­nity per­son­ally over here right now.”

Shaw might have left them, but he says he still talks to Betts, Bradley, Brock Holt, David Price and Deven Mar­rero al­most daily. Iron­i­cally enough, they sure could use their old friend’s help right now. And, sur­pris­ingly, a trade as seem­ingly in­signif­i­cant as Shaw’s has tied five ca­reers to­gether.

Hill was signed by the San Fran­cisco Gi­ants af­ter fin­ish­ing the 2016 sea­son in Bos­ton, only to be des­ig­nated for as­sign­ment at the end of June.

San­doval was on the dis­abled list for much of May with a right knee sprain. He played 32 games for the Red Sox this year, post­ing a .212 bat­ting av­er­age and 12 RBI be­fore be­ing des­ig­nated for as­sign­ment in mid-July as well.

With the chaos at the hot cor­ner, the Red Sox had no choice but to call up prized prospect Rafael Dev­ers from Class AAA Paw­tucket (R.I.) and thrust him im­me­di­ately into the fire of a di­vi­sional race.

And Tyler Thorn­burg — the right-han­der the Brew­ers traded for Shaw, Mauri­cio Dubon and Josh Pen­ning­ton — hasn’t pitched an in­ning this sea­son. He was placed on the 60-day DL in early May be­cause of a shoul­der im­pinge­ment.

As for Shaw, a new city sparked a fresh start, and he still re­mem­bers a sec­ond piece of ad­vice his fa­ther gave him af­ter his first year in the ma­jors.

“You’re gonna be bet­ter next year be­cause of what you went through this year,” Shaw re­calls his fa­ther say­ing.

Right again, Mr. Shaw.

GE­OFF BURKE, USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Third base­man Travis Shaw is bat­ting .299 with 24 homers and 74 RBI for the Brew­ers, who are bat­tling the Cubs for first place in the Na­tional League Cen­tral.

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