MILWAUKEE (AP) – Hall of Famer Robin Yount is returning to Milwaukee as the bench coach for the Brewers, 12 years after he left the only team he played for.

“Brewer again,” he said Friday as he slipped on his No. 19 jersey. “I’m very excited to be back in Milwaukee, where I knew I would always come back eventually.”

Yount, 50, sets nearly every offense record in Brewers history in a 20-year career that ended in 1993.

He had been reluctant to return to the organization while raising his family in Scottsdale, Ariz. But Yount’s youngest child, Jenna, is to finish high school in May, and he’s close friends with manager Ned Yost and newly hired third-base coach Dale Sveum.

“If I didn’t respect these guys like I do and believe in the way they approach the game of baseball, then I wouldn’t have had any interest,” Yount said. “We have a lot of the same beliefs in the way the game should be played.”

Sveum said he and Yost lobbied for Yount’s return.

“In the long run, because of the atmosphere and what’s going on here, it made it so appealing to him that he could finally have an impact with the young players,” Sveum said.

Yount, the first Brewer elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame, returned to baseball as first-base coach with Arizona in 2002 and was bench coach for in 2004 until manager Bob Brenly was hired that July.

“I told Ned, Are you sure you want me as your bench coach? I only lasted about three months as a bench coach in Arizona and I got the manager fired,”‘ Yount said. “The biggest difference is when Ned gets kicked out of the game, then I’m in charge.

“Did Ned get kicked out much? I hope he gets kicked out a few times,” Yount quipped.

The Brewers, in their first season under the ownership of Los Angeles investor Mark Attanasio, finished 81-81, their first non-losing season since 1992.

“That’s just the first step in getting to where you can compete for a division title, and that’s what interests me,” Yount said. “We’ve got some good talented young players here. … Hopefully, through my 20 years of experience, I can speed up their learning curve a little bit.”

Attanasio said that negotiations on a contract extension with general manager Doug Melvin are close to complete. Melvin’s has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Boston Red Sox opening.

“I’m delighted we have a general manager that would be in demand,” Attanasio said. “I love that they want to get our general manager, if it’s true. But we’re going to keep Doug with us.”

Yount, a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee, made his major league debut as an 18-year-old shortstop in 1974. He’ll get to work with J.J. Hardy, whom Yount knows through Yount’s son, Dustin. Hardy hit .308 with eight homers after the All-Star break.

“It’s really cool to have him now in the big leagues and being able to work with him, that’s another attraction,” Yount said.

The AL MVP in 1982, Young led the Brewers to the AL pennant before a seven-game loss in the World Series to St. Louis, which overcame a 3-2 deficit. Yount hit .414 in the Series.

Yount won the AL MVP again in 1989, but the Brewers haven’t reached the playoffs since 1982. He played in 2,856 games, batting .285 with 251 homers and 1,406 RBIs. He is tops in club history in games, homers, RBIs, at-bats, hits, runs, doubles and triples.

“This city and the people have been as good as I could ever imagine, and then some,” Yount said. “It’s always been that way.”

AP-ES-11-04-05 1708EST

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