MILWAUKEE -- Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy could be cleared for hitting before the end of this week, and has a tentative -- very tentative, he cautioned -- date in mind for returning to the Major League lineup.That date is July 20, when the Brewers begin a three-game series at Cincinnati. But the timetable remains very flexible, and Lucroy has multiple hurdles to clear before his name appears in a Milwaukee lineup. Lucroy is expected to undergo another X-ray this week of the right hand he fractured in late May, and must be fully healed before medical officials let him pick up a bat. Lucroy would then have to progress from a tee to soft toss to regular batting practice before a Minor League rehabilitation assignment. Only after all of those steps would the Brewers consider activating him from the DL. "My hand strength is feeling pretty good," Lucroy said. "Hopefully we can continue to get stronger. We're over the hump now; we just have to wait." Lucroy had been a bona fide All-Star Game candidate and the Brewers' No. 2 run producer before he was injured, trailing just Ryan Braun in RBIs. Martin Maldonado and George Kottaras have shared catching duties since Lucroy went down. The Brewers will have to make a decision on their catching corps when Lucroy is healthy, but that call is still weeks away.
Not an All-Star, Greinke doesn't feel snubbed
MILWAUKEE -- Zack Greinke would have loved to make the All-Star team, especially considering the game is at his old stomping grounds in Kansas City. Greinke said he's still holding out hope of making the team in the event the National League needs a replacement.But Greinke, who is 9-2 with a 3.08 ERA even after allowing five runs in six innings against the Marlins on Monday night, does not consider himself an All-Star snub. "I thought depending on how many relievers made it, [I would have a chance]," Greinke said. "There's so many good starters this year -- there's half a dozen that have done just as well as the guys that made it, so I can't really complain. The starters this year, it's got to be the best in the last 20 years, I don't know. Maybe the last 30 years. It's pretty amazing." He added: "You can't please everyone." NL manager Tony La Russa has found that out, though considering this is his sixth All-Star Game, he knew it already. Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto is so upset about missing the cut, his agent Bryce Dixson suggested he may file a grievance through the Major League Baseball Players Association. They were upset that La Russa cited as a reason for the "snub" Cueto's start on the Sunday before the All-Star Game -- an assignment that previously would have disqualified him, but no longer does according to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Greinke said he sympathizes with La Russa's tough task. "I wanted to make the team, but it's not an easy job picking," Greinke said. "Cueto has pitched great. There's other guys who have pitched great, too. You can't make everybody happy. No matter who [La Russa] picks, there's going to be good arguments." Greinke added, "It's kind of like the BCS stuff," referring to college football's much-debated and recently remodeled system of picking a national champion. Asked whether he was holding out hope of being a replacement, Greinke said, "I hope so. Still, there's other guys who deserve it, too."
Catcher Maldonado's secret weapon: the bunt
MILWAUKEE -- Since being called up to Milwaukee in late May after an injury to Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado has happily done whatever has been asked of him.And he's even done some things nobody really expected. Maldonado registered his third bunt hit of the season on Monday night -- an impressive feat for a 6-foot-1, 225-pound catcher who will never blow anyone away with his speed on the basepaths. Other big leaguers with three bunt singles include speedsters like Angels rookie Mike Trout, Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler and the Marlins' Jose Reyes. On May 30, his second game of the year, Maldonado also successfully executed one of Milwaukee's Major League-leading eight squeeze plays, proving you don't have to be little to play small ball. "It shows what a guy can do if he just thinks about the game, looks around at the defense, thinks about what the team needs at the time and how he can help the team get on base," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Everybody on our team should be looking and saying, 'How in the world can this guy get bunt base hits?' It should rub off on them. Sometimes it doesn't, and it baffles me, but it's a great example of what you can do to help us win." When Maldonado came to Milwaukee from Triple-A Nashville, Roenicke knew he was getting a quality defensive catcher with a strong arm. The 25-year-old has proven that to be true this season by catching four runners stealing, while not allowing a single passed ball. Maldonado has also been able to complement his work behind the plate with production in the batters box. In exactly 100 plate appearances entering Tuesday's game against Miami, Maldonado owned a .267 batting average with 16 RBIs and five home runs. Roenicke said he's been generally pleased with Maldonado's at-bats, his defense -- and of course, the bunts. "He's doing a nice job," Roenicke said. "He's getting used to the pitchers more. Still going to be a ways, I think, until he gets the other teams we're playing and can lock in on their lineups and how to get guys out. But he learns pretty fast. He's always asking questions. I think he's going to be pretty good."
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported Tuesday that the Brewers were scouting Double-A Frisco, lending further credence to the Rangers as a potential match should the Brewers decide to trade right-hander Zack Greinke. The Braves are another potential Greinke suitor. Right-hander Shaun Marcum is still experiencing some discomfort in his right elbow and may not be ready to rejoin the rotation immediately after the All-Star break, as the Brewers had hoped. Roenicke said club officials had yet to discuss whether Marcum would need a Minor League rehabilitation assignment, saying, "We haven't got that far yet."
Norichika Aoki's successful squeeze bunt on Monday was the Brewers' eighth this season, twice as many, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, as any other team. The Reds have four, as many as Aoki himself.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.