MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers are more than one-fifth of the way through the regular season, and their best batting average belongs not to Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder but to Jonathan Lucroy, the second-year catcher who didn't take a single swing in a Spring Training "A" game because of a fractured finger.
Good luck trying to get him to acknowledge it, even after matching his career-high with three hits on Tuesday night.
"I got three hits. Great, grand, wonderful. Who cares?" said Lucroy, who was smarting from his own baserunning error in the second inning and starter Shaun Marcum's letdown in the seventh. "We still have things we need to work on. There's things, defensively, I need to work on to help our staff get better."
Lucroy will probably not be the next Johnny Bench, but he's not exactly the next defense-only Brewers catcher, either. He batted .298, with a .379 on-base percentage, in parts of five Minor League seasons after Milwaukee drafted him in the third round in 2007.
Last year, promoted abruptly because the Brewers faced a catching emergency, Lucroy batted .253, with four home runs, in 75 games while learning an entirely new pitching staff. He was not pleased with that offensive output.
"I've been working hard in the cage before the games by myself, just trying to get back to where I used to be a few years ago," he said. "I'm literally just trying to work on hitting the ball hard. Being an eight-hole hitter, that's what an eight-hole hitter is just trying to do, get on base, have the pitcher get him over and the leadoff hitter get him in."
Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee has been impressed. He just expressed his praise in a roundabout way.
"Catchers, they've got something wrong with them," said McGehee, a former catcher himself. "I did it for a while back there, and I was smart enough to get out of there. You're getting beat up, and if you don't have something wrong with you, it's probably not a smart place to play.
"What makes him so valuable to us is he does such a good job behind the plate, and he can swing the bat. We get the best of both worlds from him."
Fielder hits milestone 200th home run
MILWAUKEE -- Prince Fielder clapped his hands when the baseball reached the seats -- partly because he'd just tied the game with a two-run home run and partly because he'd just become the 15th-youngest player in Major League history to reach the 200-homer plateau.
Fielder's blast was a two-run shot in the fifth inning of what devolved into a 13-6 Brewers loss to the Padres on Wednesday. It made Fielder the fifth player to hit 200 home runs in a Brewers uniform.
"At the time, I was excited because it tied the game up," Fielder said. "Now, it's cool from an individual standpoint, but we lost."
The Padres rallied for eight runs in the eighth inning, muting Fielder's enthusiasm.
The same fan who caught Geoff Jenkins' 200th home run in 2007 caught Fielder's milestone baseball. After Fielder spoke with reporters, he was to meet the fan and trade an autographed bat for the ball.
Fielder needs one more home run to tie Cecil Cooper for fourth-most in Brewers history. Hall of Famer Robin Yount is the franchise's all-time leader with 251 homers. Jenkins is second with 212, followed by Gorman Thomas at 208 and Cooper at 201.
Braun exits with bruised ankle
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers All-Star outfielder Ryan Braun left Wednesday's loss after six innings with a bruised left ankle, but club officials do not consider the injury serious.
Braun was hurt when he crashed into the out-of-town scoreboard along the left-field fence, while trying to catch Padres shortstop Jason Bartlett's double. The Brewers scored in the bottom of the same inning for a 6-5 lead and had a chance to add on after loading the bases, but Braun flew out on the first pitch.
"Brauny was hurting, and I think he saw the at-bat that we needed from him and tried to get through that," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "If he had to go back out there, then he would have. But he wasn't right."
The Brewers are off on Thursday before resuming play on Friday night against the Pirates. Braun has been the team's starting left fielder and three-hole hitter for all 37 games this season.
Kotsay makes first start in center for Brewers
MILWAUKEE -- Mark Kotsay manned center field for the Brewers for the first time on Wednesday. It marked only his fifth start there since 2008, when he started 98 games in center for the Braves and Red Sox.
Manager Ron Roenicke had been mulling a center field start for Kotsay for some time. The Brewers' regular back-up to Carlos Gomez is Nyjer Morgan, but he's on the disabled list with a fractured finger. Roenicke is happier with the other back-up, switch-hitter Brandon Boggs, coming off the bench.
"[Kotsay] will do OK," Roenicke said. "This is an easier park to play center as far as coverage. Like I said before, he is a very good outfielder. He knows he doesn't have the foot speed that he used to have, but he's fine."
Uecker to get 'Real Sports' treatment
MILWAUKEE -- The Emmy Award-winning HBO show "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" will profile Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker in a new episode on Tuesday night.
"Real Sports" cameras followed the 76-year-old for much of the Brewers' last homestand, and correspondent Bernard Goldberg interviewed Uecker at his Milwaukee home. The show will air at 9 p.m. CT on Tuesday on HBO, and will be available on HBO On Demand from May 23-June 13.
Uecker is in his 41st season calling Brewers games, and is back in good health after a trying 2010 that included two major heart surgeries. Just last week, he was presented the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association's Hall of Fame award in Atlanta.
The Brewers Community Foundation has a new wrinkle for its annual 5K Famous Racing Sausages Run/Walk. Fans can sign up at www.Brewers.com/5kFundraising to raise funds and qualify for prizes -- from a $10 concessions voucher to use of a Miller Park suite. Fans can also simply register for this year's July 30 race at Brewers.com. ... The Brewers announced that left-hander Zach Braddock, on the 15-day disabled list with a sleep disorder, will begin a rehabilitation assignment with Class A Wisconsin on Thursday. Braddock is eligible for reinstatement by the Brewers beginning May 16. ... An MRI scan of reliever Brandon Kintzler's sore right triceps revealed no structural damage, manager Ron Roenicke said. The Brewers will decide on Friday morning whether to place Kintzler on the disabled list and summon bullpen help.