Lucroy to undergo surgery on fractured pinkie
Injury bug at Crew camp also hits Greinke, Gamel, Rogers
PHOENIX -- Starting catcher Jonathan Lucroy fractured the pinkie finger on his throwing hand Wednesday and will undergo surgery as the injury bug bit Brewers camp.Lucroy was hurt during blocking drills during the team's second full-squad workout and at first thought he simply jammed his right pinkie. But X-rays revealed the fracture, and after further examination Wednesday afternoon, it was determined that Lucroy will have surgery Thursday in Phoenix. Dr. Don Sheridan, a hand specialist who has performed a series of surgeries on second baseman Rickie Weeks, will insert a pin in Lucroy's finger. With Lucroy expected to miss four weeks, the team will draw on a pool of catching depth that includes 2010 holdover George Kottaras, newcomer Wil Nieves and non-roster invitee Mike Rivera, who served as Milwaukee's backup from 2006-09 and returned this year on a Minor League contract. General manager Doug Melvin said the team should be able to get by without adding to that group via trade or free agency. "We feel OK for now," Melvin said. "There's four weeks of Spring Training, so we'll have to wait and see the healing process. It doesn't appear that it should be more than 10 days into the season [before Lucroy is active]. ... "It's better that it happened now than five days before the season, and then he misses a month of the season."
2010 Spring Training - Milwaukee Brewers
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Whether Lucroy begins the year on the disabled list remains to be seen. If he does, he could remain at Maryvale Baseball Park to get at-bats in extended spring training.Because the injury is to Lucroy's throwing hand, Melvin believes that he might be able to continue catching pitchers during his rehabilitation, which is important for a young catcher on a team with a new manager, some new veteran pitchers and expectations to compete. Lucroy should also be able to remain in physical shape during his layoff. "We'll wait and see what the process is," Melvin said. "He'll have to get at-bats somehow." "Unfortunately," said assistant GM Gord Ash, the suddenly-busy head of the team's medical program, "these kinds of things happen in Spring Training." Here's a look at some other items on Ash's agenda Wednesday: Right-hander Zack Greinke's live batting-practice session was pushed back at least one day because of a bruised rib cage, but it's considered very minor, Ash said. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz said he expects Greinke to throw on Thursday instead. "I plan on him throwing then," Kranitz said. Neither Kranitz nor Ash said they knew how Greinke was hurt. "He's not concerned about it, so this falls into the category of precautionary," Ash said. "Because there is some flexibility in the throwing program right now, it doesn't make much difference whether he throws batting practice on Wednesday or on Thursday." Top pitching prospect Mark Rogers shut down his own live BP session after feeling tightness in his twice-surgically repaired right shoulder. It's something Rogers has been dealing with since the start of Spring Training. "In long toss I feel great, but letting it go, it's a little tight," Rogers said. "I don't want to push it now, and [the medical staff] said the same thing. Let's err on the side of caution and stay healthy as opposed to having a setback. "I did a little extra work [on Tuesday] and I think that's why it's a little tight today. [Structurally], it's all good, thank God. It's not anywhere around where the surgery was, and it's a totally different feeling. I can throw 80 percent, but when I let it go, it's just a little bit tight." Because of his series of injuries, this is the first Spring Training since 2006 that Rogers is not on a restricted throwing program. "I'm lucky here because they know my history and let me take my time," Rogers said. Those setbacks came a few hours after the Brewers announced third baseman Mat Gamel had strained a muscle along his right rib cage and would not participate in hitting drills for seven days. The news continued an unfortunate trend for one of the organization's top offensive prospects. Last year, Gamel might have made the Opening Day roster had he not suffered a minor tear to the "lat" muscle behind his right shoulder, an injury that ended up delaying the start of his Triple-A season. A year earlier, in 2009, Gamel missed time in camp with a sore throwing shoulder. He called his current injury a minor one and said he felt a tweak during batting practice on Tuesday. As for his knack for spending Spring Training in the training room, he was at a loss. "I don't know what's going on, bro," Gamel said Wednesday morning. "It's just ridiculous though. I mean, I don't know. It's just a spell of some bad luck." Bad luck at a particularly bad time, Gamel conceded. "It's killing me," he said. While he questions his spate of injuries, he doesn't question whether his offseason regimen has anything to do with it. Gamel spent the winter at home with his wife and two young children. "It's not a matter of not working out," he said. "This is the most I've worked out in the offseason, so it's definitely not that. It's not a lack of anything -- not a lack of stretching, not a lack of working out." This spring, the Brewers intend to use Gamel at a variety of positions and evaluate him for a spot on the bench. He's primarily a third baseman but is expected to also see action at first base and in the outfield corners. Gamel was able to take part in defensive drills Wednesday. "If it's bugging him, we'll back off the throwing," manager Ron Roenicke said "The intercostals and the obliques, both of them, you can't mess around. I know it's a small area and they are little fibers that tear, but they can last a long time." Gamel will be evaluated again on Thursday, and he won't be alone.