Lucroy brings different skills to position
Rookie catcher has success at throwing out baserunners
MILWAUKEE -- He hasn't been named the No. 1 catcher for the Brewers just yet, but rookie Jonathan Lucroy is certainly going to get a chance to earn the spot.
Lucroy, who was called up May 21 in place of injured starter Gregg Zaun, started his third straight game behind the plate for the Brewers on Saturday. With three starts on the homestand, Lucroy has doubled his career total.
Lucroy brings to the table something the Brewers haven't had all season: a catcher who can consistently throw runners out. In seven games -- one of which he entered late as a pinch hitter -- Lucroy has thrown out two of five runners attempting to steal.
"We're trying to address the stolen bases," manager Ken Macha said, referring to his decision to start Lucroy. "He's certainly done a nice job so far with that."
Although throwing out baserunners is just part of his job as a catcher, Lucroy admits it's one aspect in which he really strives for success.
"I take a lot of pride in doing that; I fully enjoy throwing people out," Lucroy said. "I do my best every day to be perfect in that regard, because that's one part of the game I feel like I can control.
"You really can't control a lot of parts of the game, so I feel like I can really contribute a lot by throwing runners out and keeping guys off base the best I can."
With George Kottaras 0-for-7 on the homestand and 3-for-25 with just three walks this month, Lucroy is getting his chance to show what he can bring to the table.
Since he has joined the big league club, Lucroy has been the hardest worker in the clubhouse, Macha said, routinely arriving at the ballpark six or seven hours before the first pitch.
But as with every other position, it all boils down to results for Macha.
"Everybody gets an opportunity," Macha said. "It's up to production. So, get some hits, throw out some runners, catch a winner, that's all part of the formula."
Weeks gets standing ovation for 500th hit
MILWAUKEE -- With a fifth-inning double in the Brewers' 4-3 loss to the Rangers on Saturday, Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks recorded the 500th hit of his career.
After the double, Brewers fans gave Weeks a standing ovation. He was then picked off attempting to steal third.
Before the game, the milestone was the furthest thing from Weeks' mind.
"Honestly, that's the first I've even known about it," Weeks said when asked about what it would mean to reach 500 hits. "I'm not real big on milestones like that."
Still, Weeks, who is in his seventh season of his big league career, said he would be happy to get hit No. 500.
"It's just one of those things that when it comes I'll, of course, appreciate it," Weeks said, "but for the most part it's just one of those things that, when it comes, it comes."
Weeks scored the Brewers' first run in the eighth after recording his 501st hit, also a double. Hit No. 502 was a single to drive in a run in the ninth.
Wherever Hart bats, success has followed
MILWAUKEE -- You don't see too many guys leading the league in home runs batting second, but that's what Corey Hart continued to do for the Brewers on Saturday.
Hart, whose 17 home runs were a National League best entering Saturday, also ranked third in the Majors behind the Blue Jays' Jose Bautista and the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, who had belted 18 homers apiece.
With Hart swinging a hot bat over the last month, manager Ken Macha moved him to the No. 2 spot on Friday. Hart proceeded to go 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs.
"I kind of liked it last night," Macha said of the move. "The guy's swinging the bat. He's on base a bunch. I want those guys to get on base for Prince [Fielder] and [Ryan Braun]."
Macha likes the power potential of Hart batting between leadoff hitter Rickie Weeks and Fielder.
If Weeks gets on base in front of Hart, it gives the Brewers the chance for a quick two runs before recording an out. Regardless of his spot in the lineup, Hart continues to hit home runs, totaling 14 since May 15.
"He's a special hitter. He's got some tools that not everybody has," third baseman Casey McGehee said of Hart. "For him to be doing it as consistent as he is right now, is pretty impressive to watch.
"It just extends it so far. He's hitting second, and that worked. He's been hitting sixth, and that's been working. So when he's going good, it makes a huge difference."
Macha enjoying new luxuries with bullpen
MILWAUKEE -- After using just two pitchers Friday, manager Ken Macha had seven of his eight relievers available Saturday against the Rangers. It's a luxury Macha hasn't been able to enjoy too many times this season.
After releasing Jeff Suppan, designating Claudio Vargas for assignment, and placing Todd Coffey and LaTroy Hawkins on the disabled list, the Brewers' bullpen looks a lot different than it did to open the season.
The bullpen now consists of Chris Capuano, Kameron Loe, Zach Braddock, John Axford, Chris Smith, David Riske, Carlos Villanueva and Trevor Hoffman. Of those eight, the last two are the only remaining members from the Opening Day roster.
"We're starting to lengthen out the bullpen," Macha said.
For much of the season, Macha's bullpen troubles consisted of pitchers not performing when called upon and a lack of pitchers available each day to begin with.
Macha was cautious not to get overconfident about his bullpen now.
"One game can put a wrench in that," Macha said. "The game in Minnesota where [Dave] Bush only got one out, that fired a wrench into it. Or it's like that Pirate game where we played  innings. That started us on the downside there a little bit. Then you're really struggling to see who's available."
Now, Macha's got a different problem to deal with, albeit one he's happy to have. Two of his newest relievers, Capuano and Riske, have just one appearance between the two of them on the homestand.
"It's to the point where some of the guys need work," Macha said. "I'd like to get Cappy in the game, get him a couple innings. But that's the value of the starter going seven innings."
With a crowd of at least 32,600 on Saturday, the Brewers will reach the 1 million mark in attendance in their 29th home game. The team reached 1 million in the 27th home game last season on its way to 3,037,451. ... Friday night marked just the fifth time in franchise history that the Brewers had home runs from their starters in the second, third, fourth and fifth positions in the batting order. The last time was against the Giants on April 14, 2001, when the Brew Crew had homers from Tyler Houston, Geoff Jenkins, Richie Sexson and Jeromy Burnitz. ... With four home runs Friday night, the Brewers passed the Reds for first place in the National League with 76 home runs. The Reds entered Saturday second with 74, and the D-backs were third with 72.
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.