Stray dog becomes Brewers’ best friend

Players for the Milwaukee Brewers take turns putting up Hank for the night while the team is at spring training in Arizona. (Photo credit: Cheryl Evans/The Arizona Republic)

Like many Major League Baseball teams, the Milwaukee Brewers are busy at spring training down in Arizona, prepping for what is sure to be an exciting season.

But while the team regulars are certainly performing well in the pre-season, it’s an unexpected walk-on player who’s really making a splash.

Last Monday, in the middle of practice drills, a fluffy white-and-grey dog — possibly a Bichon Frise or Poodle mix — wandered into Phoenix’s Maryvale Baseball Park. One week, a vet’s visit, and several much-needed baths later and the little dog has befriended the Brewers coaches, players, staff, and fans.

Guys on the team have named the dog Hank, for baseball hall of famer and longtime Brewer Hank Aaron. Hank spends his days hanging out at the training complex, visiting his new best friends in the dugout, before joining his teammates at night to relax. The players, including pitcher Yovani Gallardo, have been taking turns taking him for the night.

“Yeah, he’s making a pretty big impact, which I’ve got to say is pretty cool,” Gallardo tells the Associated Press. “It’s getting a lot of attention, for sure. I think he likes it, too.”

Hank isn’t the first stray that’s shown up at training camp, but he is quickly becoming a permanent fixture on the team roster. (Attempts to find the dog’s owner have been unsuccessful.)

“A lot of times we do see some strays around here most of the time we try to get them and they run away because they’re nervous. This guy ran right to our folks here,” Milwaukee Brewers Vice President of Communications Tyler Barnes tells WQOW of Hank. “And he is becoming official, I think. Camp mascot of 2014.”

Hank has only been around camp for a week, but already he’s become part of the team.

“For having short legs, he kept up really well,” Gallardo tells AZCentral.com. “The guys love him. A lot have already bonded with him.”

“He’s so relaxed. His personality goes so well with the rest of the team,” Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy says of Hank. “He’s very loose, very friendly. It’s great having him around.”

Brewers fans seem intent on keeping Hank around for many years to come; on Twitter, the hashtag #ballparkpup is still trending, and the team has even made Hank his own Twitter handle, @BrewersHank.

“Hello Twitterverse!” he tweeted Saturday. “I’ve learned to not not poop in the clubhouse, now it’s time to learn the ins and outs of twitter.”

Then, later that afternoon, “First full-squad workout today. Can’t wait to see what owner Mark A has to say to all of us. Hoping he brings me a new squeaker.”

Sources: AZCentral.com, WQOW, Associated Press