Pressure eases for Cubs' remaining Brenly

MESA, Ariz. -- At 26, Chicago Cubs catcher Michael Brenly is still a year younger than his famous father was when he was a rookie in the major leagues.

Michael Brenly has bounced around the Cubs minor leagues trying to find his way in the game, all the while his dad, who played nine major league seasons as a catcher after breaking in at age 27, was starring as Cubs game analyst on television.

"I think there was a certain amount of pressure there whether he generated it himself or got it from fans," Bob Brenly said from spring training this week where he was watching his son run through drills. "With that last name it's kind of hard to hide."

Michael was drafted twice by the Cubs, in 2005 out of high school, and again in 2008 out of college. His dad was working for the Cubs the entire time his son has been in the organization -- until now. Bob Brenly left the Cubs to be the color analyst with the Arizona Diamondbacks so he won't be as close to counsel his son, who is expected to start the season in Double-A Tennessee, where he played last year.

"It was a weird situation," Michael said. "I think we both liked being around each other. I liked listening to him with the Cubs, but it would have been tough with him upstairs. I'm happy he gets to work at home here in Arizona."

Michael's progress has been slow, spending four seasons in Single-A ball before making the jump to Double-A last year. He hit .227 and .206, respectively, the past two seasons, numbers that aren't going to get him another promotion, but Michael is hoping a change in his lifestyle will.

"My first year down in the Florida State League I enjoyed some food I shouldn't be eating too much of and my wife got the call from the Cubs. She's been helping me a lot," he said.

Michael dropped over 20 pounds and is hoping that makes a difference in his overall game.

"It was a tough process, but in the long run I think it will help me," he said of losing the weight. "This is my second Cubs camp so I feel more comfortable. Just doing what I can to get up to Chicago and help the team win."

Michael's been working with new assistant hitting coach Rob Deer and though his dad says he was always "an on-base guy" growing up, his size (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) says otherwise.

"He's at a stage now, and working with Rob, he'll be able to unleash his power," Bob said.

Michael added: "I'm still trying to figure out what kind of hitter I am. Just trying to hit the ball hard."

Bob hasn't given Michael much more advice than to work hard and every so often he reminds him of his own career.

"I keep telling him I was a 27-year-old rookie in the big leagues. You don't have to wait that long," Bob said.