"I had a 20-year career get in the way," said the versatile infielder, who spent 16 of those years in the big leagues, the last five with his hometown Brewers.
The 41-year-old Counsell took his first steps toward realizing his goal when he announced his retirement and joined the Milwaukee front office as a special assistant to general manager Doug Melvin.
"I'm excited for this opportunity," said Counsell, who will take part in player evaluations in both the majors and minors while learning all facets of front office work.
"It's hard to make the decision (to retire), but in a lot of ways it was easy to make the decision. I'm excited that I don't have to get any hits anymore. That was a challenge at the end."
Counsell referred to his tough 2011 season, when he batted .178 (28-for-157) and went 45 consecutive at-bats without a hit during one stretch. That doesn't obscure a productive career in which he served as a regular or semi-regular for five big league clubs at second base, shortstop and third. He batted .255/.342/.344 in 1,624 games.
Counsell counts playing for two World Series champions—the 1997 Marlins and 2001 Diamondbacks—as career highlights. He scored the winning run in Game Seven of the '97 Series against the Indians.
"It's more than I could have hoped for," he said. "The things that happened, I don't even know if they were in my dreams. It's been a pretty good run."
Counsell follows in the footsteps of his father John, who worked in the Brewers front office from 1979-87 in community relations.
"If he works in the front office as hard as he did as a player to maximize his ability in his career, we're going to have an all-star member in the front office," Melvin said.
• Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki signed a two-year deal that guarantees him $2.25 million and contains a club option for 2014. Milwaukee posted the winning $2.5 million bid to negotiate with Aoki.
• The Brewers promoted pitching coach Fred Dabney from high Class A Brevard County to Triple-A Nashville, replacing Chris Bosio, who left to become pitching coach for the Cubs.