MILWAUKEE -- As expected, Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy took batting practice Saturday for the first time since he fractured his right hand in late May.Manager Ron Roenicke not only got a chance to see Lucroy hit, he was the one throwing the pitches, and the second-year manager liked what he saw. "He swung really well," Roenicke said of Lucroy. "It looked like just before he was hurt. The ball came off hot. He squared off almost everything I threw." Roenicke said he was actually surprised at how confidently Lucroy swung, considering his work with the bat had been limited to soft toss and hitting off a tee for nearly two months. Before the injury, Lucroy was among the Major League leaders in batting with runners in scoring position, and his 30 RBIs -- along with a .345 batting average -- placed him right behind left fielder Ryan Braun for the team lead. On Friday, Lucroy said he wants to be playing again by July 20. Roenicke said that seems like a realistic time for Lucroy to begin a Minor League rehab assignment after watching him swing on Saturday. And although nothing is set, Roenicke said he's optimistic Lucroy will be playing for the Brewers sooner rather than later. "He's got to get through [team physician Dr. William Raasch] and I think they do another X-ray to make sure the bone's healed up," Roenicke said. "But it is good news."
Ishikawa in lineup at first base, Hart to right field
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke shuffled his lineup Saturday, batting first baseman Travis Ishikawa in the two-hole for the first time in his career and giving Corey Hart his first start in right field in more than a month.Roenicke said the moves were not an indication of any permanent switches; he simply wants to put his team in what he believes is the best position to win each game. "Matchups again," Roenicke said. "Were trying to do what we can for that pitcher that night and what we need to do against him to win." On Saturday, "that pitcher" was Pirates right-hander Kevin Correia, who entered the day with a 5.04 ERA in 17 career appearances against the Brewers. Tailoring his lineup for a specific pitcher left Roenicke with some tough decisions, including benching Friday night's hero Cody Ransom to get Cesar Izturis -- who entered Saturday batting 6-for-10 against Correia -- in at shortstop. But after emphasizing the significance of the first nine games of the second half of the season, Roenicke said he has to pull out all the stops. "I know right now is a real important time," he said. "So I'm really concentrating on winning every game we can right now." For Hart, he made his first start in right field since June 10, when he switched to playing first base every day. He has not committed an error in 40 appearances at first this season, and Roenicke was confident he would be able to transition back to right as easily as he transitioned to the infield. Hart, who said he keeps his arm in shape by throwing on a regular basis, felt the same way. "It will be fun to get back out there," Hart said. "Just for a day, at least." Filling in at first base on Saturday, Ishikawa said batting second for the first time in his career wasn't going to drastically change his approach, if at all. He knew he would be expected to move runners over and get on base in front of National League home run leader Ryan Braun, but he said those are things he tries to do all the time. That's because, much like his manager, Ishikawa said it's time to do whatever it takes to win. "I think you should be focused on that no matter where you hit in the lineup," he said. "Just doing the little things. I think those things contribute to team wins no matter where you hit in the lineup."
After an up-and-down first half of the season, the Brewers bullpen started the second half off on the right foot Friday, surrendering one earned run in three hits in four innings of work."I expect them to have a good second half, and we need them to," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We need to close out games when we get leads. Last night was good. ... I thought they threw the ball well." With three home runs on Friday, the Brewers entered Saturday leading the National League in home runs with 104 -- one ahead of the Rockies.
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.